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Career Resources - Preparing for an Interview

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Preparing for Interviews

Interviewing is one of the most popular career topics on the Web. But no career advisor can tell you exactly what to say during an interview. Interviews are just too up-close and personal for that, and there are too many types. About the best career advisors can do, is give you some idea of the typical questions to expect. While there are many canned interview questions, there are few canned answers. The rest is up to you.

To put you somewhat at ease, many interviewers really don't know how to interview effectively. Frontline interviewers are typically managers and supervisors who have never been trained in the techniques. They're a little nervous too, just like you. Some don't even prepare in advance. This makes it easier for you to take control of the interview, if you have prepared.

You might also interview with one or more of your future coworkers. Regardless of the questions they ask, what most really want to know is how well you'll fit into the team, if you'll cause them more work instead of less, and if they should feel threatened by you. When answering, be eager enough to show that you are a good team player and will pull your load, but not so eager as to appear to be a back-stabbing ladder climber!

While it's important to impress managers, supervisors and coworkers, you may have to impress the company HR representatives as well. HR reps are trained to ask very specific and personal questions, like what salary you expect. They might ask you about your impressions of the company and the people who interviewed you. They might also ask if you have other offers. If so, chances are good that they are willing to compete for you. But if you say that you have other offers, be prepared to back it up with the who, what and when, because they might ask. The HR reps are also the people who will conduct or arrange reference checks. They may have the final say.

Always research a company before you interview, and remember that attire, body language and manners count, big time. Try to avoid common mistakes. You may think that much of this is common sense, but crazy stuff really happens!

Remember, it's a two-way street. It's the employer's chance to judge you, but it's also very much your chance to judge the employer. In fact, if you handle yourself well and ask the right questions, you'll put the interviewer in the position of selling the company to you. If this happens, you're probably doing well.

Be prepared to attend a second interview at the same company; maybe even a third or fourth. If you're called back for more interviews, it means that they're interested in you. But, it doesn't mean you're a shoo-in. Most likely, they are narrowing the competition, so keep up the good work.

After interviewing, immediately send a thank you letter to each of your interviewers. It's professional and may be the deciding factor in your favor.