Last Updated Mar 24, 2010 7:30 PM EDT
Unless you're independently wealthy or a committed freelancer, you might want to check out these four tips designed to help you seal the deal and get an offer at the end of the interview.
These 4 tips to acing an interview come courtesy of Wisebread. If you've been through enough interviews, most of these might strike you as second nature. If you're still learning your way around the interview loop, though, some of these tips might prove invaluable.
1. Be unique. I recommend some caution here. Yes, it's important to stand out from the crowd. You want to give your interviewers a reason to remember you (in a good way). Some dude recently made his resume out of Google Maps, for example. But it's a fine line. Don't go too far -- a resume that's just plain weird will earn you a spot in the trash. On my last successful interview, I discussed something relevant -- my writing background -- but worked in a story about an encounter with a famous rock star. The interviewers enjoyed the tale. I didn't get the job only because I could tell a personal story about Bob Mould, but I certainly made my interview memorable, which helped separate me from the pack.
2. Emphasize your awesomeness. Let me be clear about something here -- Wisebread suggests "honing your b.s. skills." I disagree. Sure, Wiseberead recommends staying on the truthy side of the truth/fiction fenceline, but even so, any advice that recommends b.s.'ing your way through life is seriously flawed. I've recommended many times that you emphasize your accomplishments, not your responsibilities, and it definitely applies here as well. Tell folks what you actually did, and you'll rise above the crowd of mouth breathers who can't articulate how their previous duties actually contributed to the business goals and success of the company they worked for.
3. Never say "can't." Employers are looking for people with positive, can-do attitudes. Try to avoid directly saying "no, I have no idea how to do that." Isn't there some analog, some similar tool or process you can compare it to? Surely there's some way to spin a question about some skill you don't have into talking about how you expertly can do something not entirely unlike this thing. Another example from my interview experiences: XML? Can barely spell it. But I have done an awful lot of HTML in my life. That's what I emphasized, and then suggested I could ramp up to XML pretty easily.
4. Look them in the eye. Be confident, be assertive, and push through your nervousness and insecurity to meet their gaze. Smile, laugh, pay attention when they're talking, and push yourself to return their eye contact when you answer questions. That sort of thing can take practice, but as someone who has sat on the hiring side of the table, I can confirm that energetic, animated, enthusiastic candidates get higher marks than visibly nervous, subdued, apparent introverts.
Photo by Alex France