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Nail your next job interview

It’s one of the most important but nerve-racking experiences in life: the job interview. Make a few mistakes and you could be sunk. But shine with well thought-out answers and a confident demeanor and you might just get the job offer.

After all, the saying that you only have one chance to make a good first impression is very true. Half of hiring managers know within the first five minutes of an interview whether the candidate is a good fit.

How do you nail your next job interview? Here are some tips to help you put your best foot forward.

Get ready
Prepare answers for the most common questions ahead of time. This helps you make a cohesive and strong case for yourself. Here are some questions to be ready for:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why do you want this job?
  • Why did you leave your last job?
  • What is your greatest strength and greatest weakness?
  • Describe a difficult work situation and how you overcame it.

Also, make sure you’ve researched the company, its history, products and competitors so you can ask and answer questions well.

Dress appropriately
Your clothing sends the interviewer messages about your personality and professionalism. Now is not the time to express yourself through fashion. It’s hard to go wrong with conservative business attire that fits well.

Watch your body language
Body language mistakes can overshadow your accomplishments and abilities. There are many no-nos, including not looking someone in the eye, not smiling and having a limp handshake. These errors make you seem untrustworthy and weak.

Line up questions
Most interviewers ask whether you have any questions. Don’t pass on the opportunity or ask a presumptuous question like, “How long before I’ll be promoted?” It shows a lack of interest in the job or that you’re only in it for yourself. Instead, demonstrate your enthusiasm and knowledge by asking an artful question about a product or what the new hire needs to achieve. Your questions reveal your willingness to dive in — a trait many employers embrace.

Wrap up
Be sure to get the email addresses of everyone you met. Follow-up with individual thank you notes, including details about what you discussed. Thank them for their time and express your continued interest in the job. It’s the best way to leave a strong lasting impression with the people who have the power to hire you.

As with most skills, practice makes perfect. Ask a friend of family member to role-play the interview with you beforehand. Honing your interviewing skills will give you the confidence to interview with poise, preparation and professionalism.