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How to Ace the Interview

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How to Ace the Interview

By Michelle Yozzo Drake

I admit it: I'm one of those people who watches the Super Bowl every year...for the commercials. As a marketing consultant and Communication Strategist, I'm curious to see what companies do with their multi-million dollar ad space in between touchdowns and time outs. As usual, this year presented a mixed bag of the good, the bad, and the downright boring.

But they did call to mind one of my all-time favorite commercials: an ad for A&W Root Beer's "It's good to be thick-headed" campaign featuring an enthusiastic young man trying desperately to impress an interviewer - with cringe-worthy and laugh-out-loud results.

From the commercial:

Young guy: "Mr. Dum-ass? I can bring a lot to Dum-ass & Dum-ass. I'm a go-getter. Dum-ass material all the way. So: am I your man, Mr. Dum-ass?"

Interviewer: "The name is 'Du-Mas.'"

Ugh. I don't know whether to laugh or cry...or just thank goodness that's not me.

But I think we've all been there at some point. We've all sat in an interview, palms sweating, pulse racing, a cloud of desperation swirling around us, wondering if our voice sounds as fast and high-pitched to the interviewer as it does in our head. Then the interview is over and with it comes a brief sense of relief followed closely behind by an unforgiving, self-doubting, groan-inducing post mortem of everything we said (and wish we didn't) and didn't say (and wish we did).

So what can we do to make sure our interview goes smoothly?

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Jimmy from Oyster Bay, Long Island wants to know, too:

Dear Michelle,

Recently, I decided to relocate. Finding an apartment was easy, but finding a new job has been a different story. I managed to get a few interviews, but no call backs and definitely no offers. I have another interview scheduled for this week, and I don't want to blow it. Getting a position in this company would be a godsend. I know that this interview is my only shot to make a good impression, and I'm terrified that I'm going to make some critical mistake and lose the opportunity.

What advice do you have for me that'll help me ace this interview?

Well, the first thing, Jimmy, is that you should really be congratulated. You've done something right because you got the interview. Many people submit their cover letters and resumes and never get to the interview step. But the fact that you've been on some interviews and you haven't had the success in getting a job has me a little bit concerned too. So I think the approach that I'd like to take with you today is, let's take a look at some common mistakes that people make when being interviewed, and then if you've done any of these, let's make sure that you don't do them again when you interview this week.

A big mistake that people make is not taking the interview seriously. You are being judged. You want something from the person who's interviewing you, and so you need to be able to prepare yourself so that you have answers ready for questions that they might ask you. Take it seriously. It's not just a formality. You need to make sure that you prepare.

Another mistake that people make is dressing down. You have to be able to present yourself during this first meeting with your potential employer in your best light. You need to be able to look like you fit into the organization and like you already have the job that you're going for. So be very aware of the type of work that you're interviewing for and the type of image you want to project.

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Many people don't understand that they have to draw a picture for the interviewer. You have to show them that you are the best choice. You have to be able to tell them why and to be able to back that up with actual statistics. Back it up with examples of why you would be the best choice for the position that you're interviewing for. Make sure that you've done some research on what the company needs are and how you might best fill those needs.

(I'm guilty of this one.) People have a tendency to talk way too much during an interview. Remember that you don't want to overly dominate the interview; at the same time you want to be able to make sure that you get your points across.

Make sure that you aren't too focused on the money also. That's another big mistake. If all you're projecting is that you want to know how much money you're going to get from them, instead of projecting how much you can do for them, then they're going to be a little hesitant in bringing you on board.

Here's a big one: don't trash-talk your last boss. That's the biggest red flag for an interviewer. If you don't have something nice to say about where you used to work, then you certainly aren't going to be the most positive force here in a new working environment.

So Jimmy, I want you to remember to show your enthusiasm, to make sure that you ring your own bell. Show 'em why you're the best choice, and be sure that you do it all in a very positive and uplifting way. You want to show that you're a team player.

And always, ALWAYS make sure you know how to pronounce your interviewer's name and the name of the company.


For more FREE tips on advancing your career and navigating the workplace, sign up for my FREE e-zine "Lipstick Leadership" at LipstickLeadership.com today! And check out the products I've developed to guide you toward the success you deserve!




"Spirit has fifty times the strength and staying-power of brawn and muscle. Mark Twain