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8 fail-safe interview tips

Landing the ideal job requires quick thinking, listening skills and confidence, expert says
Feb 15, 2007
By dvm360.com staff

First impressions last forever. It's an old adage that rings true, especially when heading into a job interview.

That's why it's important to learn a few basic techniques to keep interviews moving in a positive direction, says Carole Martin, a coach who has interviewed thousands of candidates in her 18-year career in counseling fields. Now a career consultant for Monster.com, private clients and an instructor at the University of California, Berkley and Los Angeles, Martin shares the following secrets to acing an interview in almost any employment sector.

According to Martin, most employers seek answers to three basic questions: Can this candidate perform the job? Do we like him/her? Will this person fit in with office staff? Use the following tips to ensure greater interview success, she says.

1. Work on nonverbal communication or body language. It is important that your demeanor screams confidence right from the beginning, starting with the handshake. Control your nerves and act natural. People make judgments quickly. If someone is slumped in a chair and gives you a dead-fish handshake, what's your impression?

2. Dress appropriately. Overdressing is almost as bad as underdressing. Leave the flip-flops and khakis at home. Larger companies encourage suits and skirts. But if you're interviewing with a small veterinary office, that might be overkill. Consider slacks and a jacket. You don't want to dress like your potential employer; you want to be more formal so you're making an impression.

3. Turn up your listening skills. Remember that the interview is giving new information whether you realize it or not. Use your intuition, and show that you're listening. You are interviewing the place as much as the owners are interviewing you.

4. Keep it short. Be wary of talking too much. Your answers should be about two minutes long. Beyond that, you're rambling. Be ready to tell your potential employer about yourself and what makes you the best candidate for the position. Be able to walk the interviewer through your resume.

5. Keep it professional. Don't become overfamiliar or too nervous. Remember that you're not there to make a friend; you're there to get a job. Use appropriate language and jargon.

6. Generalities are a big mistake. When an interviewer asks a question, don't dance around it. Find a balance between confidence, professionalism and modesty. A lot of people have a tough time with behavioral interviewing. Be specific and direct.

7. Always ask questions. Never turn down the chance to ask questions. If you do, that tells the interviewer that you haven't been listening or have no interest. You can always fall back on, "Do you have any doubts I can do this job?"

8. Never appear desperate. The worst way to interview is with the please-hire-me attitude. Interviews are a little like dating. You're looking each other over to see if you're a good match.