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August 20, 2017

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The Art of the First Impression: You Landed the Interview, Now What?

After endless weeks of job-hunting, you finally landed an interview for your dream job. It might seem like the hard part is over, but you still need to ace the interview. So, roll up your sleeves and use these strategies to have a killer interview and get hired:

Do your homework

Research the company and the position youíre after, so you can have an informed conversation about how you can support the employerís specific needs. Read the job description carefully, and figure out how the position fits within the company. Would you be working with a team, or by yourself? What kinds of tasks would you be performing everyday? Knowing these things can help you understand which qualities the hiring manager will be looking for. Make a note to talk about those skills in your interview, so they know youíre prepared to succeed in the role.

Itís also helpful to research the people youíll be speaking with. If you can, find out who will be interviewing you, and look online to learn more about them. Companies often list staff biographies on their websites, and social media sites such as LinkedIn and even Facebook can help you get a better understanding of whom youíll be speaking with. Find connections you share, and look at their professional past for insights about what they value. Even if you canít find connections, putting a name to the face can help ease interview anxiety. Itís easier to relax under interrogation when you know your interrogator likes to dress her poodles in sweaters.

Researching the company will also help you when the time comes to discuss compensation. LearnVest says too often,people (women especially) are afraid to discuss money, vacation time or benefits in the interview. Using a salary search engine such as glassdoor.com or careerbliss.com will help you understand what other people in similar positions are making, so you can better advocate for your worth. Donít bring up salary until the company shows a firm interest in hiring you, usually at the second interview. Bringing up payment too soon gives employers the wrong impression about your passion for the position, and can cause them to lose interest.

Look the part

Make it easy for your interviewers to imagine you in the position by dressing as if you could start work that same day. If you are interviewing somewhere where corporate dress is the norm, showing up in less than a suit will make you look unprepared. Unless you were specifically told to dress casually, always err on the side of professionalism, even if youíre interviewing for a creative company.

Dressing up shows how much you want the job, and you can always let your creativity show during the interview. No matter what, you should look clean and well-groomed from head to toe. Refrain from clothing that reveals too much skin or doesnít fit right, which might undermine your ability to be taken seriously.

Speak their language

Pay attention to the kind of language employers use to describe the job responsibilities. Often, the people conducting the interview, especially initial interviews, are part of the companyís human resources department and have little practical knowledge of the position. Use vocabulary that aligns with how the employer describes the job, so the interviewer knows you have the skills theyíre looking for.

According to the experts at redstarresume.com, being specific is key in interviews, since hiring managers are being exposed to you for the first time. For example, if the job description asks for a candidate who has ďexperience working remotely,Ē donít assume that casually mentioning your preference for laptops will get the point across.

Show and tell

Interviews are all about impressing potential employers, so bring your accomplishments with you. That means leaving the interviewers with a resume or portfolio to remember you by. If the job doesnít lend itself to something that can be displayed visually, bring a list of accomplishments to discuss (donít forget to bring enough for everyone in the room.)

This is another place where being specific helps. Provide statistics and numbers that quantify your efforts as measurable success. Saying you ďimproved efficiencyĒ isnít as impressive as discussing how your efforts resulted in a 25 percent boost in production. If you have a phone or Skype interview, donít rely on your ability to wing it. Keep a list of your accomplishments in front of you, so youíll sound more collected and confident when itís your turn to talk.

Listen up

Your instinct may be to spend the entire interview talking about yourself, but itís just as important to spend time listening, , especially at initial interviews. Listening lets you learn more about what employers are looking for, and also showcases your ability to pay attention and think on your feet.

Prepare thoughtful questions of your own, too. This tactic shows youíre actively engaged in the interview process. Donít ask anything that could be found by looking online, and avoid getting off track from how you can contribute.

Follow up

After the interview, send a thank you email or note. Doing so will remind the hiring committee of your genuine interest in the job and shows off your professionalism. If you receive a rejection notice, a gracious thank you note speaks volumes about your character and might just make employers give you another shot.

Lisa McClintock is a music buff and freelance writer based out of Northern Arizona, where she's finishing her MFA and novel.

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