But a resume and cover letter by themselves can’t get you the job you want. You need to “prep” yourself before the interview. Step Three in your job campaign is “Preparing for Interviews.” First, let’s look at interviewing from the hiring organization’s point of view.

What are the biggest “turnoffs” for potential employers?
One of the ways to help yourself perform well at an interview is to look at the main reasons why organizations don’t hire the people they interview, according to those who do the interviewing.
Notice that “lack of appropriate background” (or lack of experience) is the last reason for not being offered the job.

Department of Labor studies have proven that smart, “prepared” job hunters can increase their beginning salary while getting a job in half the time it normally takes. 
(4˚ months is the average national length of a job search.) Here, from PREP, are some questions that can prepare you to find a job faster.

Are you in the “right” frame of mind?
It seems unfair that we have to look for a job just when we’re lowest in morale. Don’t worry too much if you’re nervous before interviews. You’re supposed to be a little nervous, especially if the job means a lot to you. But the best way to kill unnecessary fears about job hunting is through 1) making sure you have a great resume and 2) preparing yourself for the interview. Here are three main areas you need to think about
before each interview.

Do you know what the company does?
Don’t walk into an interview giving the impression that, “If this is Tuesday, this must be General Motors.”
Find out before the interview what the company’s main product or service is. Where is the company heading? Is it in a “growth” or declining industry? (Answers to these questions may influence whether or not you want to work there!)
Information about what the company does is in annual reports, in newspaper and magazine articles, and on the Internet. If you’re not yet skilled at Internet research, just visit your nearest library and ask the reference librarian to guide you to printed materials on the company.

Do you know what you want to do for the company?
Before the interview, try to decide how you see yourself fitting into the company.
Remember, “lack of exact background” the company wants is usually the last reason people are not offered jobs.

Understand before you go to each interview that the burden will be on you to “sell” the interviewer on why you’re the best person for the job and the company.

How will you answer the critical interview questions?

Put yourself in the interviewer’s position and think about the questions you’re most likely to be asked. Here are some of the most commonly asked interview questions:
Q: “What are your greatest strengths?”
A: Don’t say you’ve never thought about it! Go into an interview knowing the three main impressions you want to leave about yourself, such as “I’m hard-working, loyal, and an imaginative cost-cutter.”

Q: “What are your greatest weaknesses?”
A: Don’t confess that you’re lazy or have trouble meeting deadlines! Confessing that you tend to be a “workaholic” or “tend to be a perfectionist and sometimes get frustrated when others don’t share my high standards” will make your prospective employer see a “weakness” that he likes. Name a weakness that your interviewer will perceive as a strength.

Q: “What are your long-range goals?”
A: If you’re interviewing with Microsoft, don’t say you want to work for IBM in five years! Say your long-range goal is to be with the company, contributing to its goals and success.

Q: “What motivates you to do your best work?”
A: Don’t get dollar signs in your eyes here! “A challenge” is not a bad answer, but it’s a little cliched. Saying something like “troubleshooting” or “solving a tough problem” is more interesting and specific. Give an example if you can.

Q: “What do you know about this organization?”
A: Don’t say you never heard of it until they asked you to the interview! Name an interesting,
positive thing you learned about the company recently from your research.
Remember, company executives can sometimes feel rather “maternal” about the company they serve. Don’t get onto a negative area of the company if you can think of positive facts you can bring up. Of course, if you learned in your research that the company’s sales seem to be taking a nose-dive, or that the company president is being prosecuted for taking bribes, you might politely ask your interviewer to tell you something that could help you better understand what you’ve been reading. 
Those are the kinds of company facts that can help you determine whether or not you want to work there.

Q: “Why should I hire you?”
A: “I’m unemployed and available” is the wrong answer here! Get back to your strengths and say that you believe the organization could benefit by a loyal, hard-working cost-cutter like yourself.

In conclusion, you should decide in advance, before you go to the interview, how you will answer each of these commonly asked questions. Have some practice interviews with a friend to role-play and build your confidence.

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