Bold Interview Tactics

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Acing a job interview begins long before you arrive at the hiring manager’s office. In today’s competitive job market, the most diligent IT consultants take extra steps to distinguish themselves from the competition by planning ahead. Here are some tactics to help you stand out in a crowd:

Research the company. Find out as much as you can about the organization before the interview. You may want to check out the firm’s Web site for its mission statement and goals, as well as the company’s past financial performance. You can also read analyst ratings, scan the firm’s annual report or search for media coverage. If possible, talk to someone who currently works at the organization or has worked there in the past.

Demonstrate your experience. As a consultant, it’s especially important to emphasize what you can bring to a project and how your efforts will save the company time and money. Talk about specific details of your previous work experience, such as how you helped improve a process that contributed to the firm’s bottom line.

Prepare intelligent questions. Once you’ve done your research, come up with some questions of your own to ask about the company, the department and the job responsibilities. Ask the interviewer to describe the firm’s long-term goals and its positioning as compared to competitors. When appropriate, add your own insight based on what you’ve learned through your research. Try to formulate open-ended questions that will provide you with deeper insight about the business.

Listen up. Pay close attention to the person interviewing you. Good listeners focus their full attention on the speaker and try to avoid thinking about what they’ll say next. Maintain eye contact and use nonverbal cues, such as nodding, to show interest in what he or she is saying. Ask for clarification when anything is unclear, and paraphrase to ensure that you understand what was said.

Keep your answers brief. Your responses should be focused and concise. It’s OK to think for a moment before answering questions; in fact, a moment of silence can make your response seem more thoughtful. After you have finished answering a question, avoid the urge to fill in the silence with “chatter.” Natural pauses allow the interviewer to absorb what you have said.

Go easy on the “charm.” Although you want to appear personable, don’t overdo it. Concentrate on demonstrating that you have the skills and attributes the job requires. If you focus too heavily on “winning over” the interviewer, you may come across as insincere. However, if you are honest and enthusiastic, the rapport between you will develop more naturally.

Be yourself. Let your personality shine through during the interview. If you’ve got a sense of humor, don’t suppress it entirely; your interviewer wants to get to know you. Just be professional. You’ll feel more comfortable because you aren’t putting on an act.

Make an offer. If the interview goes well and you know you’d like the position, you might offer a potential solution to a problem they’re experiencing or provide additional samples of your work that are appropriate. It will show your initiative and enthusiasm for the job. The main point here is to let the interviewer know that you want the job and that you’ll be able to offer real value to the company.

A little diplomacy, research and innovation will impress your interviewer and put you a step ahead of the competition. In the process, you’ll get that much closer to landing the job of your dreams. Good luck!

Katherine Spencer Lee is executive director of Robert Half Technology, formerly RHI Consulting, a leading provider of IT professionals for initiatives ranging from e-business development and multi-platform systems integration to network engineering and technical support. Robert Half Technology has more than 100 locations in the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia and offers online job search services at www.roberthalftechnology.com.

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