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Interviewing Tips

Ace the Interview

The interview is an important early step in helping you land the right job. So, here are a few pointers and commonly asked questions to help you ace your interview.

Preparation Tips

It probably goes without saying that you should be neat and well-groomed for any interview, with pressed clothes and polished shoes. To avoid any last minute pitfalls, organize your attire at least the night before, map out a transportation route, plan for parking, and bring in an extra copy of your resume.

Interview Q & A's

When you get to the interview, shake hands firmly, be confident and show enthusiasm. Have a sense of humor, but don't be a comedian. Consider the questions before jumping into an answer and avoid being long-winded. Use the interviewer's name during the interview and look the person in the eye. Here are possible questions or requests for information you might be asked, so you can practice your answers.

Tell me about yourself. Be prepared to talk about yourself succinctly. Describe your professional career up to that point, highlighting your strengths from each job and explaining how those skills will serve you in the position for which you are interviewing.

Describe your strengths and weaknesses. The interviewer wants to see how self-aware you are. Highlight a few strengths that best suit this position. Try to objectively consider one weakness you've had, and how you have overcome it in past positions.

What do you do in your current position and why are you leaving? Never be negative about past employers. Explain what you do currently and how you've grown in the position. It's a good idea to rehearse a reasoned response about why you are leaving. It's not a good idea to bring up low pay or a bad boss. It is fair to mention a corporate shift such as a buyout, impending layoffs, or a change in company direction.

What have you accomplished at your current place of employment? This is an excellent chance to show off your work ethic, prove your ability to take the initiative, and highlight your skills and enthusiasm. Prepare a detailed anecdote from your current job that illustrates how you can shine.

Why do you want to work here? This is where research about this company can come in handy. Show the interviewer that you know what this company does and explain why you're passionate about working in that field. This is not the place to mention salaries, benefits or career advancement.

What qualifications do you have that make you feel you are suited for this position? Pick a few qualifications from this job description and what you have learned so far from the interview and explain why you are suited to those areas. If this position is a step up from your current job, explain how your experience has made you ready to handle more advanced tasks and responsibilities.

Where do you think you will be in five years? Try not to be too forward thinking. Even if you think you'll someday be managing this department, or this company, you don't want to come across as unrealistic or arrogant. Instead, consider the natural and gradual progression of where you'd hope to advance from this position.

Are you a team player, or do you work best by yourself? In most companies, you're expected to work well with others. The right answer is "team player," and you can explain how you've succeeded in the past in working on group projects. But don't highlight your social skills too much. Companies also want someone who can get down to business and work self-sufficiently without too much oversight.

How do you handle difficult situations or a difficult boss? Avoid negative comments about past work experiences. Instead just try to be creative and diplomatic and come up with a solution that plays on your skills as a strong worker to overcome difficulties.

What do you do in your spare time? You can mention here any extracurricular activities or professional organizations that are related to this position. But you can also judiciously mention any interesting hobbies or sports. However, you don't want to sound too busy with personal interests to get down to business. Intuition can also help. If it sounds like this company, or this interviewer, is very sports-minded, you can highlight some athletic attributes of your own, as long as they are true