PUBLISHED: 5:08 PM on Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Making your job interview a success
Whether you are a first time job seeker or an old hand looking for a career change, the prospect of a job interview can be intimidating - especially since it can be the single most critical component in securing a job.

In many ways, the job interview amounts to a sales call, a parallel that probably explains the anxiety many job candidates feel.

Learning to overcome this discomfort and manage the communication process can help make a more positive impression on hiring managers.

"Good interviewing skills can translate into multiple job offers, allowing candidates to control their career options," says Dave Dunkel, CEO of Kforce, a professional staffing company. "Homework and effective communication can spell the difference between a successful interview and a poor impression."

As such, the experts at Kforce are offering some interview tips to boost the confidence of job seekers:

• Research both the company and the prospective supervisor. Review the company's Web site, do an online search or review a brochure. Ask whoever is setting up the interview for insights about the interviewer, including personality and managerial style.

• On the day of the interview, arrive 10 minutes early, energetic, well rested and dressed professionally. Extend a firm, friendly handshake and express appreciation for the interviewer's time.

• During the interview, use your research to strengthen your case. Interviewers like to know that you've done your homework, so drop details from your research as appropriate.

• Always maintain good eye contact and express yourself clearly using proper diction and grammar.

• Anticipate questions the interviewer may ask and be prepared with concise responses. Give direct responses to questions, and answer tough questions with a question to clarify and gain time to think.

• Describe past experiences positively. Compliment past employers or minimize negative details.

• Ask questions to demonstrate interest in the position, the company and its industry. Prepare questions in advance to minimize the need to "think on your feet."

• De-emphasize money and benefits. Remain open on salary during the interview.

• Exhibit confidence and poise, and convey an assertive attitude without being overly aggressive.

• Be prepared to describe your past experience as a creative problem solver, a decisive person and a strong team member.

• Express a purpose and goal for a career move, but also emphasize your willingness to "earn your stripes." Show interest in long-term opportunities.

• Display high moral standards, avoid prejudicial comments and show broad interests in both work and play.

• Take criticism in a professional and non-defensive manner. Do not leave any negatives or weaknesses unaddressed or without restating one of your positives.

• Identify your "key messages" (what differentiates you and makes you a good choice) in advance, and be prepared to summarize these at the conclusion of the interview.

"By leaving a solid impression upon the hiring manager and earning an offer, candidates gain control of their job search and have the ability to choose the most desirable career path," says Dunkel.