Interviewing tips for beginners

Before the interview ends, have some thoughtful questions prepared.

The dreaded job interview is a crucial hurdle to entering the job market. Author Lindsey Pollak has plenty of advice for first-time job-hunters, from polishing your résumé to picking out an outfit. Her book, “Getting from College to Career,” was recently re-released by HarperCollins and updated to reflect the changing economy and technologies.

What’s the first step to preparing for a job interview?
The biggest mistake people make is saying, “I’ll just be myself. I’ll wing it.” You need to research the organization: Visit its website, follow it on Twitter or Facebook, find out something about its products and services, culture, competitors and CEO.

How can you weave that information into the conversation in a natural way?
A lot of people go into interviews only thinking about themselves: “How am I going to make them think that I’m great?” But if you can think about it from their perspective, you can really help yourself. They don’t just want someone great; they want a great fit for who they are. The goal is to sound more like a peer or an industry insider, rather than someone starting from the beginning.

What are some common beginner mistakes?
I’m always surprised how many recruiters say people are late or dressed improperly. Another obvious no-no is leaving your cell phone on during the interview. Don’t tell them you’re interested in other fields. It’s OK to have other interests, but your job in the interview is to get that specific job. Don’t talk about anything salary-related in the initial interview.

Three steps to sealing the deal:

1. Call ahead
If you’re unsure what to wear to the interview, don’t be afraid to call and ask for some guidelines for appropriate dress.

2. Prepare your endgame
At the conclusion of almost any interview, the interviewer will ask if you have any questions about the job and company. Be prepared for this moment. It’s a good time to show off your research and interest.

3. Say thank you
Make sure to send a thank-you e-mail — or even a card — a day or two after the interview.


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