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The difference between a good interview and a great interview can be what keeps you handing out resumes or landing the job. All applicants know they should dress nice and come prepared, but the details that really put you over the top are more subtle. Understanding what matters and why is the determining factor in the "knock 'em dead" interview.
Whittle your past experience and work philosophy down to a few basic statements. These statements should be clear and concise, and convey hard facts about your accomplishments and your value as an employee. If you have two or three lines prepared, you will not find yourself searching for ways to explain your talents when a question pops up. For example, say you've practiced a line about being the driving force behind a 150 percent sales increase for your last company. When it comes time to assess your abilities, you know exactly what to say to both answer the question and impress your interviewer.
From time to time, interviewers ask questions that may catch you off guard or that require more forethought than a few seconds of on-the-spot panic can provide. Run through possible problem questions before the interview so you at least have a fighting chance at a winning answer. For instance, shortcomings are often a subject that is brought up as a way to see how you assess yourself and how you deal with criticism. Say you're asked about past failures or weaknesses. Your response should take the form of an admission of a fault that can also be viewed as a plus. For example, stating that you take on too much and never turn down a request is a definite weakness, but at the same time it shows your new employer that you work hard and are dedicated.
Read the Room
As soon as you walk into the interview room, assess the decor and note any distinguishing features for future reference. For example, if there are obvious high-end oil paintings around the office, mention the excellent taste of the decorator and how pleasant such surrounding would be to work in. This type of compliment not only shows a positive attitude, but reveals a keen eye and some knowledge of things other than your daily routine. If nothing in the office stands out as extraordinary decor, look for a shared interest or experience in the personal effects and play off it. If your interviewer has a photo of Hawaii on the desk, mention the time you ...
Close the interview by volunteering to perform take-home tasks that will prove your worth as an employee and your desire to land the job. Take-home tasks are your chance to show what you can do, to help fill a need for the company and to seem like part of the team before you actually are. For example, you can offer to create a mock-up presentation for the department, or provide some possible solutions to issues facing the company. Your ideas may have real value to the brand and your new boss. Getting your employer used to working with you is a proactive way to edge your foot in the door and land the position while other applicants are sitting around waiting for the call.
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Robert Morello has an extensive travel, marketing and business background. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University in 2002 and has worked in travel as a guide, corporate senior marketing and product manager and travel consultant/expert. Morello is a professional writer and adjunct professor of travel and tourism.