Five tips for acing a job interview

When the time comes to hit the interview trail, your preparation, attitude, and presence all count. Jack Wallen offers some proven tips for making your interviews a success.

Whether you are fresh out of school or trying to restructure your career, the job interview is one area you must learn to nail. Without a solid interview, you'll be lucky to get a second look from any company. Here are five quick-hitter interviewing tips that will help you be one step ahead of your competition.

1: Know as much about the company as you can

The last thing an interviewer wants to see is a job candidate who hasn't taken the time to research the company. Why should they bother getting to know you (and hiring you) if you haven't done your homework? Know what the company does, know the company's history, know a bit of trivia about the company, know its mission statement, and know something about the person interviewing you. With this knowledge in hand, the interviewer will recognize, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that you mean business.

2: Dress for success

This should be a no-brainer, but I'm always surprised when I hear about people say they're going in for an interview and don't know how to dress. "Should I go casual or dressy?" You should dress like you respect the company interviewing you, like you respect yourself, and like you're serious about your job hunt. You should certainly have good hygiene. Most of those reading this article are going to be interviewing for IT, IT-related, or business-related positions. That dictates a decorum that applies to attire as much as it applies to attitude.

3: Bring a resume

Yes, you have already sent in your resume. And yes, they may have already looked at it. That doesn't necessarily mean that interviewer has brought a copy to the interview, especially if you're having the interview offsite. Always be over-prepared and bring a copy of that resume (and even your cover letter, for good measure). And don't wait to see if your interviewer says, "I forgot to bring a copy of your resume." After you introduce yourself, be proactive and hand your copy over. It will show the interviewer you are serious and well prepared.

4: Be positive

No one likes a person who is, by default, negative. This applies not only to how you approach the interview overall, but to how you refer to former employers as well. If you are willing to cut down your former employers, you are going to be willing to cut down your current employer. Interviewers know that a negative attitude can be like a plague within a company. Be positive. If the interviewer asks why you left your former employer, always put a positive spin on the reason. Instead of saying, "There was no room for growth in the company," spin it like this: "I felt as if my skills could be more effectively used in positions that either didn't exist or were unavailable."

5: Stay relaxed

Throughout my years of being interviewed, one thing that has always ensured the best possible interview has been relaxation. If you're nervous, tense, or uptight, it's going to be obvious to your interviewer. You will sweat, you will shake, you will stutter, you will have trouble answering the barrage of questions thrown at you. One trick I use to try to avoid this is to occupy my brain before the interview with a different task. This could mean reading a book, playing a game -- anything to get my mind off the upcoming interview. Try doing this right before the interview. Arrive early and sit in the waiting area with your book. Read and relax. You could read a book, the paper, anything to keep your mind occupied. Such activity will help keep your nervousness at bay, so your interviewer will see you as a calm, collected prospect.

Other tips?

These tips have helped me over the years -- and I have aced plenty of interviews. Do you have any interview tips that have given you the edge over your competition? If so, share them with your fellow TechRepublic readers.

By Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic, The New Stack, and Linux New Media. He's covered a variety of topics for over twenty years and is an avid promoter of open source. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen....