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You've just received a call to interview with your dream company. Do you know how to prepare for the interview so that you'll feel confident, have a good experience and set yourself apart from others? Try following the steps below and you'll not only be well prepared, you'll present yourself as a true professional.

1. Research the company.

Do your homework, e.g. Go to the company's website and read about the employers vision, strategy, competitive advantages, products, finances, departments, etc. If the company doesn't have a web presence look them up at the library, call the Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce, find out who they are, what products they sell, and something about their competitors.

2. Prepare your elevator speech.

This is your two-minute opportunity to enlighten the interviewer about your chief accomplishments. Please note, this is not the same as your responsibilities. Employers want to know what you did, not what you were charged with doing.

3. Prepare your talking points.

Craft a list of your 4 greatest strengths and the 4 things you're currently working on for professional growth. Be prepared to give examples of each.

4. Identify innovations / process improvements you made in your most recent employment.

Employers want to know how hiring you will make their organization better and contribute to the execution of their strategy. (Assuming you did your homework in step # 1 you can offer examples of innovations or revenue saving ideas that will be of interest to the potential employer.)

5. Dress for success.

The way you dress makes a statement about yourself. Regardless of the job that you're applying for, it's a good idea to wear a freshly laundered suit?even in a casual business environment.

6. Arrive 15 minutes early for your appointment.

Besides ensuring you aren't rushed, you can learn a lot by utilizing this strategy. Observe the company's employees as you sit in the lobby. Do they greet one another and say hello to you? Are they smiling and happy or frazzled and frustrated?

7. Engage in a dialogue.

A conversation is a two-way exchange. Be curious and ask lots of questions to get a good understanding of how the company, department, and management operates. Ask about the job responsibilities and company culture, e.g. Employee recognition programs, opportunities for personal and professional development, current and future challenges of the position, etc.

8. Tell the truth.

When responding to the employer's questions, tell the truth! If you made a mistake, say it in a positive way, accept responsibility for it, what you learned, and how you have benefited from the experience.

9. Don't talk salary or benefits.

The goal is to get as many options going as possible so don't talk about compensation too early in the game, it can be a knockout factor. Sell the employer on all that you can do for them. If they're interested they'll make an offer and then you can start negotiating both issues.

10. 50 % of the responsibility for the right job match is yours.

Remember, you're interviewing the employer just as they are interviewing you.
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