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5 Tips to Prepare for a Job Interview

job inteview
Written by Joanna Hughes

A good interview can mean the difference between a new job and more months on the unemployment line. There's one rule when it comes to the contemporary job hunt: you can never be too prepared. Let's take a closer look at why interviews are so important and what you can do to ace your next interview.

Know the Job

Job postings are carefully crafted to convey a message to potential job applicants. Have you thoroughly reviewed and analyzed the job posting? Doing so can give you valuable insights into what a company is looking for to fill a particular vacancy with the right candidate.

Rather than playing it by ear, be proactive. Take time to match up your own qualifications -- including skills, knowledge, experience and character traits -- against the job description. The more matches you make, the more closely your candidacy will align with a prospective employer's expectations. Review this list before the interview to optimize your chances of impressing when job-specific questions arise.

Know the Company

The internet has opened up a whole new world to job seekers. There's no "flying blind" when it comes to selling yourself to a company you don't know. A breadth and depth of information -- from logical strategies to corporate culture -- is readily available via web pages and social media. Researching the company doesn't just help you be more prepared to answer any question that come your way; it also indicates initiative and interest to employers.

This is also an opportunity to use social networking sites to your advantage. Do any of your friends or contacts have a relationship with a prospective employer? If so, they become a potentially valuable source of information.

And be sure to evaluate your own social networking accounts, and clean up, if necessary. The best interview in the world won't overcome an inappropriate Facebook photo.

Demonstrating knowledge of the market in addition to the prospective company also contributes to your ability to make a winning impression. Are there any interesting industry trends happening right now? How is the company positioned within the current market? Today's employers aren't just looking for the "yes men" of days past. Rather, they're looking for progressive-minded leaders who will forge the path to innovation.

Practice Makes Perfect

The more confident you are in your ability to answer questions, the more positively you'll represent yourself to prospective employers. Enlist the help of a family member or friend in advance to practice with you. While it may seem silly, it will lay the groundwork for a successful and in-control interview. Make sure to review these 6 hardest interview questions and be ready to tackle these questions with thoughtful answers that will help you land the job.

In addition to practicing answering questions, make sure to have plenty of questions of your own. Ultimately, the interview is as much an opportunity for you to get to know a prospective employer as it is for a prospective employer to get to know you.

The Clothes Make the Man/Woman

For better or for worse, we live in a world where material things matter. Choose a professional interview outfit and have it ready at all times. Business attire is essential for interviews with professional organizations. More casual environments may require less formal clothing, but the commitment to a neat appearance and personal grooming remains.

Etiquette Matters

You're not just being judged on what you say during an interview. You're also being judged on what you do. Maintain a polite and pleasant demeanor with everyone you meet -- from your fellow elevator resident to the receptionist.

Body language plays an increasingly important role with employers: sit upright, maintain eye contact, and pay attention.

Demonstrating the ability to listen during an interview is just as important as answering questions. The best interviews include both give and take: they're a discourse as opposed to a stilted series of questions and answers. The more engaged you are in the conversation, the more engaged a hiring manager will be by you.

Taking time to prepare for an interview can be time-consuming, but the potential payoffs are well worth the work. After all, one of the best investments you can make is a well-prepared interview that results in the job of your dreams.

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