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5 Secrets for Success at Your Next Job Interview

A person unlocking the door with their mobile phone.

Whether you're fresh out of college and looking for your first "real" job or are wanting to make a career change, the process of applying and interviewing for job openings can be a little daunting. And while unemployment rates across the country are down, there are still more than six million people without jobs in the United States, so competition can be fierce.

Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to help make yourself more marketable as you embark on your job search and begin interviewing with potential employers.

First Things First: Your Résumé

When preparing your résumé, keep in mind that this document should be tailored to the job for which you're applying. Specifically, you should write a custom objective statement for each job and include as much information as you can on relevant education and work experience. Also, be mindful of length and formatting; respect your potential employer's time by limiting to no more than one page, and stick with an easy-to-read sans serif font and font size.

Dress to Impress

Good news! You've been called in for an interview. Now, what should you wear? It should go without saying that you'll want to dress professionally, but ultimately, your specific outfit choice should also depend on the company culture. You typically can't go wrong with choosing a business suit or business attire (blazer, dress pants, etc.).

If you've been called for a video interview, dress professionally anyway. Even if your interviewers will theoretically only see you from the neck up, dressing professionally will help you get into the right mindset.

Do Your Homework (Seriously)

One of the worst mistakes you can make when interviewing for a job is not doing your research on the organization itself. Many job interviews will include the opportunity for you to ask questions, and an employer may see it as a "red flag" when an interviewee doesn't have any. Inquiring more about the position and/or the company shows that you've done your research and are seriously invested in the opportunity.

Rehearse Answers to Common Questions

While there's no way to predict exactly what types of questions you'll be asked at your interview, there are some "typical" questions that you can generally expect and prepare for. Set some time aside in the days and hours leading up to your interview to verbally rehearse your answers to such common questions and prompts as:

  • "Why are you interested in this position?"
  • "What are your professional strengths or weaknesses?"
  • "Tell me about a time you overcame a challenge or resolved a conflict at work."
Better yet — if you're a recent college graduate (or soon-to-be college graduate), check with your campus career center to see if they offer interview preparation services.

Be Prepared to Follow Up

Finally, understand that your interaction with a potential employer doesn't necessarily end when the job interview does. It is generally considered good etiquette to send a formal thank-you letter or email to your interviewer within a few days of your meeting.

If you haven't heard anything about a job (one way or the other) within a week or two, consider sending a courteous email or making a quick phone call to request a follow-up. Believe it or not, going this extra step could mean the difference between getting an offer or being overlooked.

A little preparation can go a long way when interviewing for a new position.

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