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Posted: November 19, 2010

Eleven surefire ways to be No. 1

You've got the interview -- now get the job

John Heckers

You're ecstatic. You've finally gotten that all-important interview with the company of your dreams for the job of your fantasies. But before you pop open the champagne bottle you need to make sure that you move to first on the candidate list. Here are 11 easy ways to be number one!

1). Dress appropriately. Unless otherwise instructed, the proper attire for an interview, even if the company is "business casual" or "business grungy" is business/professional. This means, for the gentlemen, a suit, well pressed shirt, tie, well shined shoes and socks that come up to the knee. For the ladies, it means a suit, preferably a skirt suit, a conservative blouse, hose and closed toe shoes.

The fact is, you can't wear the uniform until you're part of the team. Dressing in your very best shows respect for the interviewer. And don't forget a haircut and a shave. And guys, kill the "three day stubble" beard. These have no place in the business community.

2). Have a well-prepared résumé and bio to give to the interviewer. While a résumé or bio won't get you in the door (networking is best for that), a well-prepared résumé and bio is essential to guide the interview. Make sure you bring plenty of copies, and always have a copy of what you're talking about in front of you to avoid embarrassing mistakes. Keep the paperwork in a briefcase inside a file folder so that it looks crisp and professional.

3). Know the company. Do your research. Know the vital statistics on the company before you interview. If you are interviewing with a medium sized company on up, there will often be an "investor relations" department. Call these folks and ask for their investor package. Also research the company on the internet. It is very easy to find annual reports online at the SEC EDGAR site.

Small and/or privately held companies are a bit more difficult. Here is where having many connections on LinkedIn comes in handy. I recommend you accept every LinkedIn invitation. Here's why. If you have a large network on LinkedIn, you can almost certainly find someone at the company you are interviewing with.

4). Work the network. Talk to people who know people in the company. Little is more impressive than others telling the person you're interviewing with how great you are.

5). Be prepared. A prepared and rehearsed interviewer will usually win out over someone who thinks "I interview pretty well." Trust me, no one who hasn't been prepared interviews well. I've never met a truly good, unprepared interviewer. Read great interviewing books, rehearse with people who interview others, shoot a video of yourself interviewing, and, if necessary, seek professional interview coaching. But don't walk into the lion's den unprepared.

6). Calm down. Desperation, anger, fear or nervousness will almost certainly cost you the interview. Taking a couple of drinks or a tranquillizer is probably a really bad idea. Use, instead, deep breathing and other relaxation techniques.

7). Be confident, not arrogant. You want to let the interviewers know that you are competent, not have them think you're a megalomaniac. State your accomplishments quietly, but firmly, with an air of modesty and humility.

8). Keep "command presence." Successful executives always appear in complete control of themselves. Their enthusiasm is muted. Their friendliness is genuine, but with a slight air of aloofness.

9). Shut up. More people talk themselves out of a job than into one. Give the interviewer a complete, thorough and honest answer to each question without giving information that wasn't asked for. Keep your answers fairly short and to the point. When you've answered the question, shut up, even if the interviewer is writing something down or is silent.

10). Immediately write a thank-you note. Before you go home, hit a coffee shop and sit there and write thank-you notes. Mail them immediately. Thank-you notes should be hand-written (if possible), and mailed via snail-mail. Never e-mail a thank-you note. This, of course, means that you'll need business cards from everyone with whom you've interviewed.

11). Follow up. If you haven't heard anything in a week, check back with the principle interviewer to see where things are. But don't "bug" this individual by calling constantly.

These eleven tips will help you to get to the top of the pile of candidates who are going to be applying for what should, after all, be your position. Best of luck!
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John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC was an Executive, Relationships, Life and Spiritual Coach in Denver with 30 years of experience  helping people with their lives, relationships and careers.

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