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The Boston Globe

Preparation will help you ace interview

By Melanie Nayer, Globe Correspondent, 9/11/2005

Ngan Nguyen of Boston interviews for a call center opening with Heather Cole, branch manager of the Adecco staffing firm in Quincy. (GLOBE PHOTO BY PAT GREENHOUSE)

Even in the "real world," you still have to do your homework.

When it comes to nailing a job interview, career counselors say if you don't do your research, you don't get the job.

"Being prepared is very important the more you know abut the company the more impressed they will be because you've demonstrated that by the questions you ask and the research you've done," said Suzanne Bates, president and founder of Bates Communications Inc. in Wellesley.

Bates, who offers executive coaching and professional training to corporations, said job seekers are so concerned about how they are going to answer the questions they don't focus enough on what questions they should ask.

"Asking questions shows you're generally interested in [the company]," said Bates. "I'm so impressed when somebody comes through my door and asks intelligent questions and that sets them apart from other candidates."

But before entering the interview, job seekers must prepare for the part.

Bates said the amount of time a job seeker puts into researching the company before the interview will help them be better prepared for the tough questions.

"Everything that you learn in preparing for interviews is true you need to think about your strengths, weaknesses, and why are you the best for the job," she said.

According to Heather Rice, area vice president for staffing company Adecco in Quincy and Boston, the most important question to ask yourself while preparing for an interview is: Why do I want this job?

Whether you're applying for a college internship or you're an established veteran in the business world looking for a change, Rice said the most important thing is that interviewees know what personal skills are essential to the job.

"Prepare yourself to know yourself, so that you have an intelligent response," to their questions, said Rice. "Be conversationalist and sell yourself with your answers. Your goal in the interview is to get to the next step."

Between research and preparation, who has time to think about the interview questions?

Nancy Mobley, president and chief executive of Insight Performance Inc. in Dedham, helps companies hire and retain employees and said one thing for job seekers to remember when interviewing is to promote their strengths.

By looking at various past employment experiences, major responsibilities and accomplishments, and zeroing in on strengths and skills, Mobley said the job seeker not only shows interest in the position, but enthusiasm.

"I personally do not believe there is a difference between a first-time job seeker or a veteran CEO looking for a job.

You always have to be at the top of your game, whether you're a baby sitter or the vice president of a large corporation," said Mobley.

During the interview, Mobley said the candidate should ask open-ended questions to get a better understanding of what the employer is seeking. Doing so, she said, will give the job seeker to the ability to hone in on his or her personal strengths to address the needs of the employer.

"The job candidate can ask, 'What is your vision for the company? What type of employees work well here?' And when the interviewer asks what you can bring to the table, you've already opened up that dialogue and know what the employer wants," she said.

But just like any other relationship, perfect chemistry is the sealant the binds the employer-employee connection. Chemistry is often more important than the technical skills that can be taught in the job, said Mobley.

"Fitting into the culture is important and the first five minutes is critical in making a good impression," said Mobley.

"All of the polish and prep goes a long way towards setting yourself apart from other candidates. Take command and show confidence."

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