Last Updated Mar 1, 2011 1:23 PM EST
What follows, in no specific order, is a tried-and-true list of job interview tips. And by all means, if something else has worked even better for you, please sign in below and share it in the comments section.
1. Ask them upfront why they wouldn't hire you.
The interview is coming to a close, but make sure you stick your landing, says Roberta Chinksy Matuson, President of Human Resource Solutions and author of Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around. "Always end the conversation with the following question: 'Is there anything about my background that gives you concern?'" says Matuson. Now you've bought yourself a bonus round to derail any doubts.
2. Prepare sound bites.
Successes and skills need to be displayed clearly. "A sound bite is succinct and direct, catchy and easy to remember. An example is 'I've designed logos for three Fortune 500 companies,' or 'My efficiency plan decreased product-delivery times by 15 percent without costing the company one cent,'" says Charles Purdy, senior editor and career expert at Monster.com. Implant these one-liners in your brain, and you won't be grasping for words.
3. Ask for homework.
Until you're hired, you're an unknown to your potential employer. You sound great, but can you perform? Erase that question by asking for a trial assignment, suggests Sara Sutton Fell, CEO and founder of FlexJobs. "Ask whether there's any job-related task that you could do for them that would allow you to showcase your qualifications and maybe even save them a little time," says Sutton Fell. Do a good job, and you'll be getting paid to do the same work soon enough.
4. Mirror your interviewer.
You might feel like you're in the hot seat, but if you can match your interviewer's speed of speech and mannerisms, you'll both feel more like you're old friends and less like you're in an NCIS interrogation room, says Ken Sundheim, CEO and Founder of KAS Placement, a New York City-based staffing agency. Not sure how you're doing? "If you're following their tone, speed and breathing correctly, validate your pacing technique by taking a sip of water - the interviewer will take a drink as well," says Sundheim.
5. Be a stalker (within limits).
I hope you're already Googling the person who will interview you, and reading about the company - but you need to feel it out further. "Dig deep by using tools like Klout and Pipl," says public relations executive Meryl Weinsaft Cooper co-author of Be Your Own Best Publicist: How to Use PR Techniques to Get Hired, Noticed and Rewarded at Work. "Lurk around LinkedIn. Do some investigations by interviewing people who work there, or those who have left, to get the skinny on the culture and crowd."
6. Record a pre-interview practice.
Ever wish you could tell how you sound in an interview? Find out, suggests Marlene Caroselli, Ed.D., author of The Critical Thinking Toolkit: Spark Your Team's Creativity with 35 Problem Solving Activities: "A week ahead of the interview, record your reply to expected questions. Play the tape back and analyze your responses. Would you hire you?" If the answer is no, press rewind and try again.
7. Lean in for the kill.
OK, we're exaggerating slightly. But you do want to lean slightly forward so your interviewer can tell you're game. "Slouching or leaning back may send the wrong signals. When you sit down for a formal interview, lean forward to show interest and active listening," says Kathryn Minshew, co-founder and editor-in-chief of PYP Media, an online career consulting tool for women.
8. Use the word "we."
Look, I trust you when you tell me you're a team player - but during an interview, you can come across as a total narcissist by using only the word "I," says Kimberly Schneiderman, job search consultant and owner of City Career Services. She suggests talking about what your last team created, and only then describing your particular role. An example: "At ABC Company, the New Projects Team, of which I am a member, created a new app that would identify bakeries by location for our users. My role on the team was to identify bakeries within a specific radius of New York City and categorize them by specialty."
9. Bring props.
Think of an interview as show and tell, suggests Jenni Luke, national executive director of Step Up Women's Network. "Bring a 'brag book' of career accomplishments which demonstrates the quality of your work. [Or] if you see great work that a competitor is doing, bring that to the interview and critique it," says Luke. This will clearly show what you can do and how you think. Bonus: Having a prop can also calm jittery nerves.
Do you have any no-fail interview tips you'd like to add to this list? Please sign in below and share. For more career advice, follow @MWOnTheJob on Twitter.
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