Will You Shine in a Job Interview?

Take this quiz to find out whether you're truly making a distinct and positive impression on interviews.

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In today's tough job market, good may not be good enough. Will you be stellar in a job interview? Rate yourself on each these:

1. Researching the boss and employer. For example, Google your boss, the organization and if appropriate, its products, services and competitors. But don't reveal too much during the interview. Having taken the time to learn a tremendous amount about the organization or boss can make you seem desperate, even creepy.

Your score from 0 to 15: ___

2. Planning for the compensation question. In many interviews, the candidate is asked, "What's your salary requirement?" Sure, you can try responding with, "What range have you budgeted for the position?" But often, you'll be forced to give your range.

To get an estimate of your fair market value, use websites such as Glassdoor.com, PayScale.com and Salary.com, plus information from your colleagues. Adjust based on how good you'd be at the position and on how badly you want the job.

Your score from 0 to 15: ___

3. Looking the part. Dress one notch dressier than what you would wear on that job. Not sure what that is? Email or call the office and ask, "I'm coming in for a job interview for a position as X. I'm getting interviewed by Y. Any advice on what to wear?"

Your score from 0 to 10: ___

4. Having compelling yet honest answers ready for The Four Questions:

i. "Could you tell me about yourself?" In just one minute, you need to make clear why you'd be a great person for the job.

ii. "What's your greatest weakness? Some employers are now using a variation of that: "What do you suck most at?" The informality makes you more likely to respond honestly.

iii. "Could you tell me about a problem you solved?" You need a one-minute story that showcases how your skills, ability or drive would be valuable in your target job.

iv. The question you fear most. Of course, it's different for each applicant. Examples: "Why did you leave your previous employer?" "Why have you been unemployed so long?" Or it may be a technical question that would reveal that your skills for the job are marginal.

Your score from 0 to 20: ___

5. Creating chemistry. Two people could give identical answers yet make very different impressions. The secret ingredient: chemistry. Here are ways to build it:

Right from when you walk in, mirror the interviewer's level of formality, smiling, small talk, speed and interest in facts versus feelings. When you sit, lean slightly forward to show interest. Maintain good eye contact but occasionally look away – nonstop staring looks odd.

Your score from 0 to 20: ___

6. Being honest. Employers have evermore sensitive BS detectors. Hard-to-control changes in your face, tone of voice, pace of speaking and even changes in your breathing may suggest dishonesty.

Beware of creating even the perception you're being less than candid, for example, by using work clichés, "I delight in exceeding customer expectations, under promising and over delivering, and I'm a team player who celebrates diversity." Speak professionally but humanly.

When asked for your greatest weakness, even if it's true, don't give a stock answer that isn't much of a weakness, such as, "I tend to have too high standards."

Your score from 0 to 20: ___

7. Being concise. Many candidates hurt their chances by being long-winded. Most of your answers should be between 10 and 40 seconds long and rarely beyond one minute. If interviewers want more information, they can ask a follow-up.

Your score from 0 to 10: ___

8. Peppering the interview with good questions. Unless it's one of those interviews in which each candidate must be interviewed identically, sprinkle the interview with questions. That makes you seem more enthusiastic and less desperate.

Think up a few questions in advance. For example, "What should I know about the corporate culture?" "To succeed in this job, what ends up being most important?" Or you might ask, "Every boss has their own style. What's yours?"

Also, listen carefully during the interview and ask an appropriate question ( or questions).

If it feels right, end the interview by asking a closer question such as, "I'm feeling good about the job. How are you feeling about me as a candidate?" If the interviewer gives you a thumbs-up, you increase the chance of being offered the job on the spot. If the employer raises a concern, you have a chance to counter it.

Your score from 0 to 10: ___

9. Following up after the interview. Thank-you letters won't put you ahead of the pack. It's better to send an influencing packet. That includes a thank-you letter that accentuates what the interviewers were particularly impressed with about you and, if necessary, a second crack at a question you flubbed. More important, it includes a work sample, business plan, white paper, proposal, etc., that would impress that employer.

Your score from 0 to 15: ___

Totally Unvalidated Scoring Key

120 - 135: Your interviews should help you be the No. 1 candidate.

100 - 120: Your interviews may help your chances.

85 - 100: Neutral

70 - 85: Your interviews may hurt your chances.

Below 70: Your interviews will likely hurt your chances.

The San Francisco Bay Guardian called Dr. Nemko "The Bay Area's Best Career Coach." His latest books are How to Do Life: What They Didn't Teach You in School and What's the Big Idea? 39 Disruptive Proposals for a Better America. He writes weekly for AOL.com as well as for USNews.com. More than 1,000 of his published writings are free on www.martynemko.com.

TAGS:
careers
interviews
job searching

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