With an unemployment rate hovering around 10% in the United States, it can be difficult to land a job interview since the competition is so high. Thats why you need to be fully prepared for each and every interview opportunity!

There are several simple things to keep in mind when you have a job interview scheduled:

Be prepared.
Do your homework! Take a look at the companys website and study their mission statement, accomplishments and company culture. You can learn a lot about the company and find useful clues that will help you in your interview. For example, if the company prides itself in its philanthropic efforts and you have experience volunteering with charities, you would definitely want to mention that in your interview.

Get to the interview 15 minutes early.
Rushing around just adds unnecessary stress and pressure. Allow yourself plenty of time to get ready and arrive early. Once you arrive, take a few deep breaths and relax. Take a few minutes to re-visit what you learned about the company and mentally rehearse your talking points.

Turn off your cell phone completely.
Dont set your phone to vibrate or silent. Just turn it off completely to avoid distraction. Theres nothing worse than hearing a phone ring or vibrate during an interview, it can break your concentration and annoy your prospective employer.

Dont chew gum or smell like smoke.
It may seem obvious, but you do not want to walk into an interview with gum in your mouth. You also dont want your clothes or breath to smell like cigarettes. Make sure your breath is minty fresh because bad breath can make a bad impression.

Relax and be yourself.
Turn those nerves into enthusiasm and dont try to be someone you are not. Employers can tell when interviewees arent being authentic plus youll come across more naturally if you let the true you shine through!

Be specific.
Set yourself apart from other candidates by having specific answers for the interviewers questions. Vague generalizations dont tell the employer exactly why you are the best person for the job. Use specific examples about your accomplishments e.g., explain a percent increase in sales you were responsible for, an occasion that you went above and beyond for a customer, or a week that you worked late nights to get the job done.

Have questions for the interviewer.
Remember that in a sense, you are also interviewing the employer. You want to look out for yourself and make sure the job is right for you. The employer will see you in a more positive light if you ask intelligent questions and show that youre interested in learning about the company.

Good questions to ask include:

What type of person excels with your company?
What immediate concerns do you need addressed with this position?
Can you describe a typical days workload and your expectations for this position?

Say goodbye with a firm handshake.
Youd be surprised at how many people forget to shake hands with the interviewer or give a clammy, flimsy handshake. A firm handshake shows confidence and professionalism and leaves a good lasting impression.

If you remember these eight simple tips, youll be several steps ahead of the competition and a lot closer to getting hired for the job you want!

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