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How To Prepare For An Interview

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The resume gets you in the door but experts say it's the interview that gets you the job offer. We sat in on a mock interview to show you the top questions that trip most people up and what you should say while in the hot seat.

"The interview starts the minute you walk in the door," said Linda McKown, with James Farris Associates. "People make judgements about people in the first 30 seconds, 20 to 30 seconds."

McKown says the first questions more times than not is 'tell me about yourself.' She says to keep this short with what you did in the past, what you're doing now and what you hope to do in the future. Keep it all professional and refrain from talking about your personal life. However, if you are currently unemployed, do include what you're doing outside of looking for a job, such as volunteering or freelancing.

"It's not a good idea to say well I'm looking for a job because I know that because you are here interviewing with me," McKown said. "I often encourage people to do volunteer work because companies brand themselves now with their community service. Sometimes we tend to just ramble and we start talking about everything and we don't remember to keep it succinct and about our successes or about our skills or about our knowledge base."

The second question that can difficult to answer is 'how would your coworkers describe you?

"I think you can go to an interview with preloaded answers, you don't have to go and just wonder what they are going to ask," McKown said. "Have your success stories ready, the things you are passionate about and you want to be working with and that you've done well in the past have those ready to share."

The third question McKown talked about was 'what are your weaknesses."

"You want to be authentic and answer honestly but also so how you have shored so things up," she said.

For example, if you took additional courses to gain needed skills, be sure and talk about that.

McKown says one of the hardest questions an applicant is faced with is 'how much did you make at your last job?'

"We train not to answer that question and say 'I was paid very well, very fairly where I was at,'" she said. "If they do bring that up early in the interview process, you want to have your research ready. So the things that lucky would have had, she would have had her research on the salary ranges, she would have had all of her research on the company."

During the interview, don't be afraid to ask questions of your own.

"You can say 'why did you choose to work here or what is it that led you to choose this organization to be where your career is at,'" she said. "You want to keep it focused on the company but you can say 'can you tell me how this position came about?'

Finally, after the interview, McKown says it's okay to contact the employer if you haven't heard from them.

"One of the other things that often happens is they'll say we'll get back to you in a couple of weeks and then you never hear anything," McKown said. "I think it's perfectly fine to call and say 'hey I'm just checking in, I haven't heard anything.' Our job now is we're looking for a job so it's our job to help remind them we're out here."

McKown also suggests sending a hand written thank you note following the interview.

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