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Interview Success Formula

by Jill Leviticus

Your ability to convince an employer that you are the right person for the job is the key to a successful job interview. Positive interviews follow the same basic formula, regardless of the type of business or industry. Understanding the elements of successful interviews will help you develop an effective interviewing strategy.

Make a Good Impression

It might seem obvious, but it’s important to make a positive impression from the moment you walk through the employer’s door. Wear clean, pressed clothing and spend some extra time on your hair and appearance. Greet everyone with a smile -- from the parking attendant to the receptionist. The employer just might ask for these employees’ opinions, and you won’t want to ruin your chances by being rude or condescending to anyone. Let the interviewer know you care about the position by arriving 10 to 15 minutes early. If you can’t make it to the interview on time, the interviewer might question your ability to arrive for work on time.

Be Prepared

Research the company and position. Even if you’ve been working in a similar job for years, don’t assume that you don’t need to prepare in this way. Although the interviewer will ask you about your responsibilities, your responses won’t be limited to providing a list of your duties. He might ask you to give an example of how you handled a difficult situation or how you successfully managed a group project. Anticipate these kinds of questions and prepare answers in advance. If you don’t, you might stumble over your answer or ramble on without saying anything of substance.

Stand Out

Your fellow job applicants will also be researching the company and rehearsing their answers. If you want to make a strong impression, you’ll need to find a way to stand out. The HelpGuide website suggests developing a compelling story by thinking about turning points that shaped you and memorable “Aha!” moments. During the interview, choose stories that relate to the job and that illustrate your ability to adapt to changing priorities, stay calm in a crisis, or learn from your mistakes. While it might be tempting to make up a story or embellish it to make it more dramatic, keep in mind that you’ll make the best impression if you are sincere and honest.

Follow Up

Ask everyone you meet during your interview for an e-mail address or business card. After the interview, send each an e-mail or letter that expresses your thanks for their time, highlights your qualifications and affirms your interest in the position. The Colorado State University Extension notes that you also might want to elaborate on an issue that you didn’t feel that you addressed effectively during the interview. When you compile your list, be sure to include employees you’ve only spoken to for a few minutes, such as the office assistant. She might play a more substantial role in the selection process than you realize.

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