Being prepared for an interview is one of the most important aspects of the job hunt. If for no other reason than not wasting time, you should take the interviewing process seriously. You have spent time andenergy on the job hunt and the HR side has spent time and money setting this interview up. Taking steps to ensure a smooth interview is just another bullet in your skills arsenal, it will increase your confidence, and most importantly, increase your chances at landing the job.

 

Appearance

Before you send out that resume, be sure to clean up your social media profiles, update your LinkedIn, and when in doubt, set to private. In cleaning up your social media profiles, take down any inappropriate pictures or language. When updating your LinkedIn profile, add any skills, certifications or experience that you've gained in the last 6 months. Keep in mind that whatever we put out on the internet leaves a footprint, it can be shared and accessed by anyone.

It is becoming more and more common for hiring managers to ask to view your social media accounts. If you've taken steps toward making them professional or private, this is nothing to worry about, but the last thing you want to do is rush home from an interview and take down those bachelorette pictures from last summer. If a hiring manager asks for passwords to any of your accounts, you should know that you are well within your rights (and common sense) to deny them access.

Present yourself wisely and dress the part. Today we have access to just about any company that we wish to explore. Tools like GlassDoor, branded company websites, and their social media presence can give you an insider's look at their company culture. Get a sense of who the company is and what they're looking for in employees. For instance, you'll dress differently for a media start-up interview than you would for a corporate position. No matter the type of position you're interviewing for, here is a great guide for dressing the part.

 

Above all, be comfortable and be yourself. Don't wear something that will preoccupy you during the interview. Fidgeting and fixing are annoying and cause distraction. The interview is about your skills and your attitude, don't make it about your bra strap or falling socks.

 

Answers

Be ready for the tricky questions that you know are coming. They are pretty much all going to start with, “Tell me a little about yourself”. For the love of HR please don't start with, “Uuuhhh”. From the interviewer's perspective, if you weren't prepared for this question, you didn't prepare at all for this interview. They aren't looking for your hobbies, your favorite restaurant, or how often you spend time with your family. Keep every answer focused on your skills, knowledge and experiences that relate to the position for which you are interviewing.

Other questions that can lead to blank stares or bad answers are:

-What is your greatest weakness?

-Tell us about a time when you didn't get along with a supervisior or co-worker.

-Why did you leave your last position?

-Why did you apply here?

-What do you know about this organization?

These are commonly asked questions for which you should have quick, clear and confident answers. Every one of these questions can be turned into a way to highlight your skills and work experience.

 

Attitude

Keep in mind that attitude often trumps aptitude. Any hiring manager that has done their research, knows the difference between hiring for skill set and hiring for attitude and fit. According to Dan Schawbel in a Forbes article, of 20,000 new hires, 46% of them failed within 18 months. But even more surprising than the failure rate, was that when new hires failed, 89% of the time it was for attitudinal reasons and only 11% of the time for a lack of skill. There is nothing more costly and detrimental to an HR department than a bad hire, and they know this. At the risk of sounding cheesy, smiles are free, use them!

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Comment by Linda Ferrante on June 11, 2013 at 3:01pm

I absolutely hate the statement, 'Tell me about yourself' in an interview, and I'm a recruiter!!  The biggest reason I don't like it is that we expect candidates to have an answer prepared for it, but we've already put our prejudiced spin in place!  We expect a certain type of response (whether or not we admit it to ourselves, we are expecting something 'specific') and when we don't get it, the candidate falls into the 'not prepared for the interview' category.  

What if we changed it up a little bit and asked something like, 'So, tell me a little bit about what attracted you to this job'.  Give the candidate a place to start and don't leave them flapping in the wind.  Any time I hear about a recruiter talking about how candidates are 'unprepared' for the interview, I have to remind them that recruiting is THEIR job, job searching isn't a job for our candidates.  We say they should treat their job search as a job, but in reality, I'd rather have someone stumble over the inane questions that really lead us nowhere.  

For the record, I'm a behavioral recruiter so behaviors are extremely important in our process.  We analyze behaviors and determine level of manageability within the client company.  The 'tricky' questions are only helpful if you have a company who's culture promotes changing quickly and you're looking for how someone thinks on their feet.  Even so, it's not the best method to determine one's viability in the position.  I don't like 'trick' questions, nor do I like putting candidates on the spot.  It makes for a very ineffectual interview.

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