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August 1, 2008

Ace the Interview, Get the Job

Congratulations, you've been asked to interview! If you've made it this far it means that the employer has narrowed it down to just a few candidates. (This because your cover letter and resume were so awesome, of course!)

But don't get too confident. There is no second place in this race, and the interview is the final stretch.

This is a typical interview: You enter and ask to see the person you're interviewing with. You'll be led to an office or conference room. Sometimes you will be interviewed by more than one person. They will describe the job to you and then ask if you have any questions. They will then ask you a series of questions.

Here are some tips to make a typical interview into a great one -

Research -- Don't go in cold! Google the company, know what it does, where it does it, what the company's philosophy is, and who's who. At least know what the company does and who is interviewing you and what their job title is.

Practice - Like standardized tests, if you just study for an interview, you'll have an edge. Employers, like the SAT, usually ask the same questions. Consider these...

Why do you want to work for this company?

What are your strengths?

What are your weaknesses?

Are you organized? How?

How have your experiences made you an ideal candidate for this job?

Why should we choose you over another candidate?

Ask Back - Don't be afraid to ask your own questions. You're there to interview them as much as they're there to interview you. In other words, make sure you know what you're getting yourself into. Also, if you have questions they'll see that you're interested and mature. Some good questions to consider...

What is a typical day like here?

What is the biggest challenge of this job?

What are the hours? Will I be working overtime?

What is the pay? Will I get paid overtime? Are there benefits?

What's the best thing about this job? What's the worst?

What To Bring -

Notebook and pen: You'll probably be nervous, and you'll probably want to fidget. So bring a notebook and pen. It'll give you something to play with and you can take notes. Not only will this make a good "employee-of-the-month" impression, but you'll probably want to reference some of the details of the job later when you go home.

Resume: Yes, they already have a copy. Bring one anyway. Some employers will have it but to test you, will ask you for another copy. Bring at least 2 copies in case you are interviewed by more than one person.

Dress the Part - Even if you're interviewing for a surf teacher position, don't go in wearing flip-flops and a T-shirt. If it's a casual job, think "dress casual". If it's an office job, don't think casual at all. It's better to overdress than underdress.

Now you have the tools. And just like with the SAT, all you have left now is to prepare, eat a healthy breakfast the day of, and go for it. Remember, if you've made it this far, they already like you.

Good luck!

P.S. Call For Submissions: Are you touring colleges this summer? Tell us what you think of them. Did the dorms stink? Were they too small? Was the cafeteria food amazing? Was it in a big city, or in the middle of nowhere? Send us your College Reviews now, and save your peers from the bad choices, and point them in the direction of the good.

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"Detective Jermain" artwork by Misako Rocks. See more illustrations from this great and witty teen cartoonist at www.misakorocks.com.

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