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If you're invited for a job interview, the good news is the hiring manager feels you might have what it takes to do the job well. The first impression you make during the interview can make or break your chances of landing the job. Since you usually only have 15 to 20 minutes to sell yourself and your skills, make sure you're well-prepared and are ready to make the best possible impression.
Know the Facts
Knowing everything you can about the company before the interview ensures you are prepared to answer questions and also shows that you're serious about the job. You won't be thrown for a loop when the interviewer asks you about the company's mission, for example. Visit the company's website and LinkedIn profile. If you have connections to current or former employees, ask them about what the company values most in its employees. Although it's a good starting point, don't focus solely on online research. If possible, scope out the location prior to your interview. Drive by or walk by and see if you can get a sense of the vibe of the organization, such as whether workers are in formal or casual dress. It is also important to map out and memorize the best route to the location so you don't arrive late or end up getting lost.
Dress the Part
Your appearance and demeanor can speak 1,000 words about your suitability for the job. Dress for the job you want -- not the one you have or used to have. Even if you've been unemployed for months or years, don't dress like you've been spending your time sitting on the couch. If you show up in proper, neat attire and carry a portfolio, for example, it shows that you mean business and that you take the interview and the job seriously. Iron your clothes, comb your hair, ensure that your hands and nails are clean and go easy on the cologne or perfume.
Tune In to Nonverbal Cues
Some of the most important messages you send to others are communicated without words. The term "nonverbal communication" refers to the way you carry yourself and how you use body language and eye contact. It also includes actions like nodding and making small noises like "mm hmm" to show that you understand what's being said. Stand up straight, with your shoulders relaxed and your head in line with your spine. Don't slouch when you sit. Avoid crossing your arms, as this can show defensiveness. Make eye contact with the interviewer, but don't stare. Maintain a confident demeanor as long as you're on company premises.
Display Interest and Enthusiasm
The way you exit the interview can be as crucial as your entrance. Since interviewers will likely most remember the last impression you make, ensure that you leave on a high note. Demonstrate enthusiasm for and interest in the job. For example, you might say what a pleasure it was to meet the interviewer and that you're really looking forward to hearing from her. Don't forget to be polite and friendly to the receptionist or secretary on your way in and out. Your interviewer may ask his impression of you.
Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.