Now you’re ready for Step Four: actually handling the interview successfully and effectively.
Remember, the purpose of an interview is to get a job offer.
Eight “do’s” for the interview

According to leading U.S. companies, there are eight key areas in interviewing success. You can fail at an interview if you mishandle just one area.

1. Do wear appropriate clothes.
You can never go wrong by wearing a suit to an interview.

2. Do be well groomed.
Don’t overlook the obvious things like having clean hair, clothes, and fingernails for the interview.

3. Do give a firm handshake.
You’ll have to shake hands twice in most interviews: first, before you sit down, and second, when you leave the interview. Limp handshakes turn most people off.

4. Do smile and show a sense of humor.
Interviewers are looking for people who would be nice to work with, so don’t be so somber that you don’t smile. In fact, research shows that people who smile at interviews are perceived as more intelligent. So, smile!

5. Do be enthusiastic.
Employers say they are “turned off” by lifeless, unenthusiastic job hunters who show no special interest in that company. The best way to show some enthusiasm for the employer’s operation is to find out about the business beforehand.

6. Do show you are flexible and adaptable.
An employer is looking for someone who can contribute to his organization in a flexible, adaptable way. No matter what skills and training you have, employers know every new employee must go through initiation and training on the company’s turf.
Certainly show pride in your past accomplishments in a specific, factual way (“I saved my last employer $50.00 a week by a new cost-cutting measure I developed”). But don’t come across as though there’s nothing about the job you couldn’t easily handle.

7. Do ask intelligent questions about the employer’s business.
An employer is hiring someone because of certain business needs. Show interest in those needs. Asking questions to get a better idea of the employer’s needs will help you “stand out” from other candidates interviewing for the job.
8. Do “take charge” when the interviewer “falls down” on the job.

Go into every interview knowing the three or four points about yourself you want the interviewer to remember. And be prepared to take an active part in leading the discussion if the interviewer’s “canned approach” does not permit you to display your “strong suit.” You can’t always depend on the interviewer’s asking you the “right” questions so you can stress your strengths and accomplishments.

An important “don’t”: Don’t ask questions about salary or benefits at the first interview.
Employers don’t take warmly to people who look at their organization as just a place to satisfy salary and benefit needs. Don’t risk making a negative impression by appearing greedy or self-serving. The place to discuss salary and benefits is normally at the second interview, and the employer will bring it up. Then you can ask questions without appearing excessively interested in what the organization can do for you.

Now…negotiating your salary
Even if an ad requests that you communicate your “salary requirement” or “salary history,” you should avoid providing those numbers in your initial cover letter. You can usually say something like this: “I would be delighted to discuss the private details of my salary history with you in person.”

Once you’re at the interview, you must avoid even appearing interested in salary before you are offered the job. Make sure you’ve “sold” yourself before talking salary. First show you’re the “best fit” for the employer and then you’ll be in a stronger position from which to negotiate salary. Never bring up the subject of salary yourself. Employers say there’s no way you can avoid looking greedy if you bring up the issue of salary and benefits before the company has identified you as its “best fit.”

Interviewers sometimes throw out a salary figure at the first interview to see if you’ll accept it. You may not want to commit yourself if you think you will be able to negotiate a better deal later on. Get back to finding out more about the job. This lets the interviewer know you’re interested primarily in the job and not the salary.
When the organization brings up salary, it may say something like this: “Well, Mary, we think you’d make a good candidate for this job. What kind of salary are we talking about?” 
You may not want to name a number here, either. Give the ball back to the interviewer. 
Act as though you hadn’t given the subject of salary much thought and respond something like this: “Ah, Mr. Jones, I wonder if you’d be kind enough to tell me what salary you had in mind when you advertised the job?” Or ... “What is the range you have in mind?”
Don’t worry, if the interviewer names a figure that you think is too low, you can say so without turning down the job or locking yourself into a rigid position. The point here is to negotiate for yourself as well as you can. You might reply to a number named by the interviewer that you think is low by saying something like this: “Well, Mr. Lee, the job interests me very much, and I think I’d certainly enjoy working with you. But, frankly, I was thinking of something a little higher than that.” That leaves the ball in your interviewer’s court again, and you haven’t turned down the job either, in case it turns out that the interviewer can’t increase the offer and you still want the job.

Last, send a follow-up letter.
Mail, e-mail, or fax a letter right after the interview telling your interviewer you enjoyed the meeting and are certain (if you are) that you are the “best fit” for the job.
The people interviewing you will probably have an attitude described as either “professionally loyal” to their companies, or “maternal and proprietary” if the interviewer also owns the company. In either case, they are looking for people who want to work for that company in particular. The follow-up letter you send might be just the deciding factor in your favor if the employer is trying to choose between you and someone else. You will see an example of a follow-up letter.

A cover letter is an essential part of a job hunt or career change.
Many people are aware of the importance of having a great resume, but most people in a job hunt don’t realize just how important a cover letter can be. The purpose of the cover letter, sometimes called a “letter of interest,” is to introduce your resume to prospective employers. The cover letter is often the critical ingredient in a job hunt because the cover letter allows you to say a lot of things that just don’t “fit” on the resume. For example, you can emphasize your commitment to a new field and stress your related talents. The cover letter also gives you a chance to stress outstanding character and personal values. On the next two pages you will see examples of very effective cover letters.

Special help for those in career change
We want to emphasize again that, especially in a career change, the cover letter is very important and can help you “build a bridge” to a new career. A creative and appealing cover letter can begin the process of encouraging the potential employer to imagine you in an industry other than the one in which you have worked. 
As a special help to those in career change, there are resumes and cover letters included in this book which show valuable techniques and tips you should use when changing fields or industries. The resumes and cover letters of career changers are identified in the table of contents as “Career Change” and you will see the “Career Change” label on cover letters in Part Two where the  individuals are changing careers.’
In this section, you will find resumes and cover letters of professionals seeking employment, or already employed, in the customer service field. How do these individuals differ from other job hunters? Why should there be a book dedicated to people seeking customer service jobs? Based on more than 25 years of experience in working with job hunters, this editor is convinced that resumes and cover letters which “speak the lingo” of the field you wish to enter will communicate more effectively than language which is not industry specific.
This book is designed to help people (1) who are seeking to prepare their own resumes and (2) who wish to use as models “real” resumes of individuals who have successfully launched careers in customer service. You will see a wide range of experience levels reflected in the resumes in this book. Some of the resumes and cover letters were used by individuals seeking to enter the field; others were used successfully by senior professionals to advance in the field.
Newcomers to an industry sometimes have advantages over more experienced professionals. In a job hunt, junior professionals can have an advantage over their more experienced counterparts. Prospective employers often view the less experienced workers as “more trainable” and “more coachable” than their seniors. This means that the mature professional who has already excelled in a first career can, with credibility, “change careers” and transfer skills to other industries.

Newcomers to the field may have disadvantages compared to their seniors. 
Almost by definition, the inexperienced professional—the young person who has recently entered the job market, or the individual who has recently received respected certifications—is less tested and less experienced than senior managers, so the resume and cover letter of the inexperienced professional may often have to “sell” his or her potential to do something he or she has never done before. Lack of experience in the field she wants to enter can be a stumbling block to the junior employee, but remember that many employers believe that someone who has excelled in anything—academics, for example—can excel in many other fields.
Some advice to inexperienced professionals...
If senior professionals could give junior professionals a piece of advice about careers, here’s what they would say: Manage your career and don’t stumble from job to job in an incoherent pattern. Try to find work that interests you, and then identify prosperous industries which need work performed of the type you want to do. Learn early in your working life that a great resume and cover letter can blow doors open for you and help you maximize your salary.

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