Ten Ways to Ace an Interview

You can make a conscious effort to impress an interviewer to make sure that she remembers you, even after you've shaken hands and said goodbye.

  1. Be prepared. Being prepared for a job interview entails more than just knowing what questions you are likely to be asked. Preparedness calls for bringing along an extra copy of your resume and carrying some reading materials in the event that you have to wait a little while before meeting with someone.

  2. Dress appropriately. You don't want the interviewer to see you as “the guy in the T-shirt.” Interviewers notice these things, and are not likely to hire anyone who arrives on the scene in less than conservative business attire. Unless you're donning your old prom dress, you can never be too overdressed for a job interview.

  3. Be confident. Getting a call to come in and interview for a company is like a nod of approval from an interviewer. Even if you think you may be completely underqualified for a position, the interviewer sees something different. Always remember that the company that calls you believes you are capable of performing the job at hand; it's important for you to believe the same thing. Projecting an air of confidence—without sounding cocky or conceited—is one of the easiest ways to get an interviewer to remember you. Talk about your skills and experience with pride and—above all—let the interviewer know that you think you could do a good job.

  4. Make eye contact. One of the easiest ways to project confidence is to be attentive and maintain direct eye contact with an interviewer throughout your meeting. Always look this person directly in the eye to assure him that you are both on the same page. If you are interviewing with more than one person, make eye contact with the person asking you the question. When answering a question in front of two or more people, move from person to person, but make sure to establish eye contact with each person long enough so that you don't seem shifty.

  5. Show your enthusiasm. Even more frustrating to an interviewer than a candidate who lacks confidence is a candidate who lacks enthusiasm. When the interviewer discusses the different aspects of the job you'd be taking on, show how willing and excited you are to take on these new tasks. Even if the interviewer discusses your having to perform a skill that you are not familiar with, show her how eager you are to learn. As when showing confidence, there is a line you have to walk when showing enthusiasm. Be sure to seem excited but not obsequious or insincere.

  6. Know the position. Whatever the position you're applying for, you should know something about it. Reread the job description a few times to get an idea of the type of person the company is looking for. Research similar opportunities and learn more about the kind of person that makes a perfect match for this type of job. Talk to friends or people you know in the same job—or in the industry—to learn about the tasks involved. Know what you are getting yourself into before you go into the job interview; prepare answers to the questions you are likely to be asked relating to this job. Don't go to an interview until you can rattle off a few of the tasks you think you'll be asked to perform.

  7. Know the industry. You should also know about the industry to which you're applying, as well as whether the position can be found in many industries. For example, human resources professionals can jump from industry to industry throughout their career, as they are a needed department in almost every organization. Find out as much as you can about the industry and show the interviewer that you are well equipped to deal with the day-to-day duties of the job at hand and that you have a strong knowledge of the industry as a whole.

  8. Know the company. More important than knowing the industry, and just as important (if not more so) as knowing the job, is knowing a little something about the company to which you are applying. If the interviewer does not come out directly with a statement such as, “Tell me everything you know about this company,” he is likely to ask a few questions that will test your knowledge of the company. He may hint at company issues to see whether you pick up on these allusions. More impressive than a candidate who has the skills to do the job well is a candidate who has the skills to do the job well and has a strong knowledge of the company. The Internet provides the ability to amass a wide array of information about virtually any company you might interview with. There is no excuse for not taking the time to do your background research before the interview.

  9. Practice. The only way to gauge your readiness for an interview is to practice. Whether you sit in front of a mirror or role-play with a friend, practicing your answers to likely questions is the key to projecting a calm and confident exterior during the interview.

  10. Follow up. You've shown an interest in the company before, so why stop once the interview ends? After the interview, be sure to follow up with a quick note or a short but friendly phone call to the person with whom you spoke. A follow-up will help keep your name at the forefront of the interviewer's mind. It is permissible to send a thank-you note by e-mail, and you can also follow up with more formal mailed correspondence.

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