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I-DAY

You're prepared, you're dressed, you're armed. Now it's time to put it all out there.

Plan to show up 15 minutes before the scheduled interview time. When you arrive, take care to let the receptionist know who you are. Be friendly to this person; it's a little known fact that receptionists actually run the industrialized world. Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration, but they do have ways of helping or hindering you.

Waiting to Interview

When you meet your interviewer(s), smile, offer a firm handshake and introduce yourself. Don't assume that they have your name memorized (although that's likely the case). Don't take a seat until offered one.

If you're being interviewed by more than one person at a time, shift eye contact from one to the other as you speak and listen. And don't address your interviewer by his or her first name unless invited to do so.

Don't give out one-word answers or extended monologues. Try to keep your comments to a paragraph or two. If you're asked a question you don't understand, request clarification.

Remember your preparation. Use anecdotes from your professional experience to illustrate points you want to make.

Do NOT criticize current or former employers or colleagues. That automatically raises a red flag for the interviewer, in that you will sound like a malcontent. On the contrary, speak well of your employers and co-workers. If you're asked to explain why you have left, or are leaving, a job, show respect for that employer, even as you cite lack of advancement opportunity, reductions in force or whatever other reasons you have.

Should an interviewer make a comment with which you don't agree, don't argue. And give opinions only when asked to do so. Expect a list of questions like this:

Tell me about yourself.

Why do you want to work here?

Why did you leave your last job?

What are your best skills?

What are your major weaknesses?

Do you prefer to work alone or with others?

What are your career goals?

What can you do for us that someone else can't?

How do you think your education has prepared you for this position?

How do you handle stress?

Is business travel a problem for you?

Listen carefully to everything the interviewer says. When you can, reflect back some of his or her comments in your answers. That shows you're listening, then you are engaged in the exchange.

Continue to: ILLEGAL QUESTIONS

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