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Interview tips to help land your dream job

February 7, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
The tough economy has forced many to think creatively about job hunting. Some are transitioning into different careers, while others are taking a shot at re-entering the job market from a long hiatus. Whatever the reason, if you're sitting across a potential boss in an interview, there are some mistakes you can't afford to make.

Hiring manager Brandi Britton has interviewed thousands of employees, and says a few seconds is all it takes for job seekers to seal their own fate. From inappropriate attire to being unprepared, there are a number of things interviewees can do to end their chance of getting the job.

According to recent research, women can't afford to miss those opportunities. From June 2009 to May 2011, women lost about 220,000 jobs while men gained close to 770,000 jobs.

Yvonne Coleman doesn't want to be an interview casualty. The part-time radio personality and small business owner wants to get back into the corporate world, but she hasn't been on an interview in a while.

So she's taking advantage of a mock interview service. Critiquer Michelle Clark takes note of each answer and points out any mistakes.

When asked to give a little information about herself, Coleman started out strong, but like a lot of women, she didn't "know quite where to end it," said Clark. She recommends women treat the introduction like an appetizer.

"You want to give just enough information, realizing that the main course is coming a little bit later," said Clark.

So, limit yourself to two minutes or less. Also, don't be broad with your answers. Coleman veered off into her radio background while interviewing for a corporate job.

"An employer in this unique situation may have discounted [that] as not being valuable to them," said Clark.

So talk about specific experiences for specific positions, and if you're stumped by a question, don't start stumbling.

"For some people, it can be a stumbling block that they aren't able to recover from," said Clark.

If you're thrown an unexpected question, "utilize what we call the pregnant pause," Clark advises. Don't feel compelled to answer right away. A little silence is OK as you mull over the question. Then repeat the question and answer as best as you can, or ask for clarification then answer.

Experts say even if you feel like you stumbled, try to end strong. Maintain good eye contact especially when you shake hands at the end of the interview.

And if you don't get the job, the first thing you should do is send a thank you note. It'll help set you apart from other candidates and put you in a positive light, which may lead to something else in the company.