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Career Coach: Tips for Interviewing Success

The Career Coach gives the top tips on turning an interview opportunity into a successful experience.

Congratulations! You have a job interview the first big step to getting a job offer. This article will guide you to help you avoid mistakes job applicants make.

Image is everything during an interview. The way you dress and present yourself will make a strong first impression on a prospective employer.

The employer has seen your résumé and samples of your work. Why does he/she want to interview you? Interviews give employers an opportunity to become more acquainted with applicants. Hiring managers are looking for candor, professionalism and a glimpse into the candidates personality, states Max Messmer, author of Managing Your Career for Dummies.

Image is everything. The employer will reach conclusions based on how you present yourself.

  • Dont be late for your interview.
  • Dont show up in casual clothes even if its a casual work environment.
  • Dont wear perfume or cologne.

Here are some guidelines to make a great impression:

  • Be prepared. Do background research on the company.
  • Double check your résumé to be sure it looks professional and contains your current contact information.
  • Make sure your clothes are pressed and shoes are polished.
  • Be friendly and courteous to security personnel, the receptionist, and secretaries.
  • Make eye contact with the interviewer and stay relaxed but not so relaxed you doze off!
  • Take a moment to compose your thoughts before you speak.
  • Focus your comments on the specific knowledge and experience you can bring to the position.
  • Use appropriate language during your interview. One applicant disqualified himself by cursing during the interview.
  • Be eager to learn. Dont be arrogant and state that there is nothing the interviewer could tell you that you dont already know. Saying you know everything about the employers business is off-putting.
  • Show how your experience, skills and accomplishments are a good match for the job requirements.
  • Be attentive and listen to what the interviewer says.
  • Be friendly and open but dont invite the employer out for a drink after the interview.
  • The world is small. Even if given the opportunity, speaking ill of former employers or co-workers is unwise.

Youre in the employers office. Your résumé is sitting in front of him on his desk. The employer asks you, Tell me about yourself. Dont answer as my friend Andrew did, gesturing to the résumé: Well, its all right there. Use this question as an opportunity to briefly summarize how your background, skills and abilities would be utilized at the company. Your homework pays off here because you know what the company needs. You know the job requirements and can point out how you fit the job. Use every opportunity to showcase your strengths.

First impressions are crucial. If the initial first perception of you is unprofessional you wont have a chance to demonstrate your capability and competitiveness. But last impressions are just as important.

  • Thank the interviewer for his or her time and ask for a business card from your interviewer.
  • Tell the interviewer that you are extremely interested in the position (if you are).
  • Ask if there is anything you might do, such as submit more work samples or letters of recommendation, that might give the interviewer a better sense of what you can contribute.
  • Restate that you believe you can handle the job and make a contribution.
  • Follow up any interview with a brief, written thank you note in which you:

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson.

    • Thank the interviewer for the time he or she gave you.
    • Thank the interviewer for anything specific he or she may have done for you, such as referring you to someone.
    • Reaffirm your interest in the position.
    • Recap the key reasons why you are qualified for the job.
  • Emailed thank you notes are acceptable, but a handwritten mailed card will make you stand out I suggest you do both.
  • Carry note cards with envelopes and postage stamps in your car. Mail the thank you note as soon as you can.

With these tips you will make an appropriate and favorable impression at any job interview.

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson is a recruiter and career coach. She has been on both sides of the interviewing desk. Her recruiting clients include Blue Sky Studios, Framestore and Digital Domain. She speaks frequently at colleges and conferences. She will be presenting a course on Résumés and Demo Reels at fmx in Stuttgart, Germany in May and at SIGGRAPH 06 in Boston this summer). She will also be speaking on Digital Animation at the next Women in Animation meeting on May 25.