Acing the Interview: A Guide to Landing the Job of Your Dreams!

So you got a call-back. After days of waiting anxiously by the phone, the company you submitted your resume to called and said it would like to set up a job interview. Let the heavens rejoice as you dance around the apartment you can barely afford, but thanks to the sweet little lady downstairs in the leasing office, you've been able to slip checks in two weeks late and not get caught.

But not so fast. You've got work to do. Sure the resume you labored over for months got you noticed, but that's only half the battle. You still have to close the deal by acing the interview process, and beating out even tougher competition. But have no fear. With some job interview preparation, and by following these job interview tips, you can win over your prospective employer.

  1. Preparation is key. You wouldn't show up for a test without studying, now would you? In the case of a job interview, you would to prepare yourself for every possible scenario, every possible question, and of course, how you will respond to them. If you can, find out what types of job interviews the company typically conducts, and find out who will be giving the interview. Typically, companies use an interview process filled with multiple stages to weed out applicants, which if this is the case, you'll want to be on top of your game each step of the way.
  2. First you'll want to prepare for the types of job interview questions and answers. Some will be standard questions that you should have a fairly easy time answering, such as, "Tell me a little bit about yourself," or, "What made you decide to get into this field?" The more difficult questions will follow, and will need much more thought to ensure you provide the interviewer with the appropriate answer while remaining true to yourself in the process.

    Providing answers to tough interview questions can be difficult, but there is a way to handle it tactfully and gracefully. You must first assess yourself and determine your actual weaknesses, both personally and professionally. If you were let go from your previous job because you struggled with time management or couldn't complete projects on time, you'll have to figure out a way to address those without sounding incapable.
  3. This goes along with number two — always try to turn a negative into a positive with job interview weakness questions. It sounds clichéd but it's true. Somehow you're going to have to make that lemon mentioned in number two into the best darn lemonade your potential employer ever tasted. Okay, maybe not to that extreme, but you need to address it without sounding like you failed at your previous job.

    If asked why you left your previous job, you could say, "There were some philosophical differences surrounding my department and our priorities as a group. Because of that, I didn't feel I was getting the support I needed to do my job to the best of my ability. Having a strong team surrounding me is very important." No need to get into details unless you're asked and no bluffing either. Craft your answer so you can have a chance at the job while keeping a clear conscience.
  4. Research the company ahead of time. Familiarize yourself with the company's current projects, what direction it's heading in and of course, who's who. Then align your skills and experience up with it. This will come in handy when you're asked this deal-breaker, "Why do you think you'd be a good fit for our company?" By combining your skills and experience with the company, you're not only stating your capabilities, but creating a vision in their minds of what you can do for them.
  5. Arrive promptly and prepared! Know where you'll be going ahead of time, and if possible, get directions and drive to the location of the interview prior to your interview time so you won't get lost. And however long you think it's going to take you to get there, assume it will take you 30 minutes longer. Flat tires and dead car battery disasters have a funny way of sprouting up in the most inopportune moments.

Come prepared with questions of your own about the position and the company. This isn't just about what you can do for them. This is about what they can do for you as your potential employer. Bring a notepad to jot down notes and make sure to write down the names of who is giving you the interview on the notepad. Remembering names is a way of establishing rapport with people, and will go a long way in determining the success of your career. It's also important that you get the names of who interviewed you so that you can address the appropriate people when sending job interview thank you notes.