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If you are back on the job market and looking to land the perfect career opportunity, an in-person interview is your chance to wow your prospective employers and convince them you are the right fit for the position.

It only takes a few seconds to make a lasting first impression, good or bad, and you want to make sure you let your professionalism, leadership and competence shine through from the moment you walk in the door. Use these job interview tips to put your best foot forward and get your dream job.

1. Do your homework.

You wouldn’t take an important exam without studying first, so why would you go to an important interview without researching the company first? Find out everything you can about the organization’s mission, goals, employees, history, milestones and accomplishments. Ask yourself why you want to work for this company and why you think you would be a good fit, questions you are likely to receive from the interviewer. Know who is going to be interviewing you, and learn what you can about him as well.

2. Know your stuff.

Review your own resume, educational background and work history so you are prepared to discuss dates and other specifics with the interviewer. Type up a fact sheet with this important data, as well as the contact information of your references, in case you need to fill out a job application. Be comfortable talking about your previous employment and the daily responsibilities you held. If you have any gaps or inconsistencies in your history, be prepared to answer questions about them.

3. Practice your talking points.

Familiarize yourself with common interview questions and practice your responses out loud. Better yet, ask someone you trust (who won’t go too easy on you) to do a mock interview with you beforehand and ask for feedback on improvement. Speak clearly, concisely and avoid using slang or too many “ums” and “likes.” If you tend to get nervous, take a few deep breaths to calm down and remember to slow down and be as natural as you can. Remember that the interviewer is a person who has probably been in your shoes many times before; relax and try to relate on a human level. Studying job interview tips is helpful for preparation, but ultimately, your performance relies on how well you can communicate your personality and qualifications.

4. Look the part.

Sometimes what you communicate non-verbally is even more important than what you say. Dress impeccably in a professional and conservative outfit, and refrain from smoking or eating garlic or other strong flavors before the interview. Start with a firm handshake, a smile and direct eye contact. Turn off and put away your cell phone before arriving, do not chew gum or drink coffee and be aware of any nervous habits you have so you can avoid them (playing with your hair, fidgeting with your feet, etc.).

5. Listen and ask questions.

When the interviewer is talking, practice active listening skills and don’t interrupt. Keep eye contact and nod your head occasionally to show you are engaged in the conversation. If the interviewer asks if you have any questions, have a few thoughtful and relevant questions in mind. Listen to the responses carefully and show that you are interested in what she has to say.

6. Say “thank you.”

One of the most commonly overlooked job interview tips is sending a thank-you note after the interview. Immediately after the interview, send a gracious handwritten note addressed specifically to the interviewer, thanking him for his time and reaffirming your interest in the position. It may seem old-fashioned, but it is a small courtesy that will make you stand out from the rest of the pack.

What job interview tips do you have for prospective employees? What do you look for when hiring someone for your organization?

Learn more about the EDSI Professionalism in a Casual World course.

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