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5 Ways to Ace Your Next Job Interview

By Carl Winfield www.thestreet.com

February 9, 2009

More than 11 million Americans are currently out of work. So as the job pool shrinks, many are dusting off those old resumes. It’s a good first step when seeking a job.

Of course, there’s often more than a sheet of paper standing between you and your next job. You’ve also got to impress your would-be employer in the interview.

Your resume may get you through the door, says Mitchell Feldman, president of the New York-based executive search firm A.E. Feldman and Associates, but you’ve got to sell yourself if you’re going to get hired.

Foot-In-Mouth and Other Foibles

Selling yourself sounds easy, but for anyone who’s sat across the table from an interviewer, finding your “hire me” voice can be pretty difficult.

I had one client who spent so much time trying to craft perfect answers to each question, that his body language was completely off, says Meredith Haberfeld, a professional life coach and president of Meredith Haberfeld Coaching. He was so nervous that he wasn’t connecting with the people he was interviewing with.

Though Haberfeld was able to work with her client and help him land the job, a lot of job seekers let their discomfort show and unknowingly ruin the interview. Others arrive at the interview too stressed to perform at their best, or even worse, show up late.

You’ve got to give yourself time to relax, says Haberfeld. When you get to an interview late or in the nick of time, you’re going to look and feel rushed. That’s not the impression that you want to leave a potential employer with.

Here’s How to Make Them Say Wow

If you’re looking to make a splash in your next interview, here is a short list of tips that can take you from unemployment to, “When can you start?”

1. Dress to blend in, not to impress. You may have a taste for expensive heels but, if you’re going into a business casual environment, dressing up to the nines may, in fact, put some distance between you and the interviewer. Do some research on the corporate culture and mirror it. Employers don’t want to know what’s in your closet, but they are looking for assurances that you’ll fit in.
2. When in doubt, smile. Nobody likes to be around a dour person and even fewer people want to work shoulder-to-shoulder with one. Show your interviewer that you’re a nice, polite, well-mannered person who’s pleased to be in the office by smiling. You don’t have to go overboard, says Haberfeld. But interviewers are looking for a connection, and you can get that by smiling.
3. Remember, the interviewer is a person too. You’re not the only person in a room with someone they haven’t met. The interviewer is not the executioner, they’re just trying to find out more about you. Be cordial and considerate. More importantly, do your best to make them comfortable. Not only will they appreciate it, but it may end up landing you the job.
4. Mirror your interviewer’s tone. Having the ability to empathize with others will serve you well in the interview and in life at the office. Pay attention to your interviewer’s body language and tone and do your best to match it. If they’re upbeat, you’re upbeat. If they’re not, rein your excitement in a little bit so that you don’t unnerve them.
5. Have a good time. Meeting someone for the first time can be stressful, but there is no reason that it has to be. Treat your interview experience like a party: Meet people, shake hands and enjoy the free coffee, tea or water. The interview will go a lot quicker and, even if you don’t get the job, at least you’ll be able to say that you had a good time.