Get hired! 6 secrets to acing the interview

As the founder of Clarity Media Group, I've spent years media training a wide variety of clients, many times specifically prepping them for TODAY interviews. These clients include former “American Idol” winners, NFL quarterbacks and Fortune 100 CEOs. But lately, I have discovered that more and more of the growing ranks of unemployed are not only seeking jobs, but seeking our services as well, in an effort to enhance their performance in crucial job interviews.

If you want to stand out as a distinctive candidate, and raise your interviewing game from good to great — which could mean the difference between getting the job and not — you need to keep some tips in mind:

Maintain eye contact.Good meaningful handshake and eye contact upon entering the room. Don't be in a hurry to look away. You need to convey that you've been looking forward to meeting the interviewer.

Sustained eye contact also diminishes when you're hit with a challenging question, forcing you into a topic area that makes you feel uncomfortable — like the circumstances surrounding leaving a previous job. Looking up to the ceiling or down at the floor will send a loud signal that you're not eager to talk about this subject. Candidates also get fidgety in their chair or start brushing their hair back off their face. Try to avoid all those little tics.

Slow down.Slow your speaking pace down, especially in the first five minutes ,when you're likely to be most nervous. Anxiety makes pace naturally accelerate and makes it more likely you'll stumble over your words.

Don't be uncomfortable with silence. If you need to take a thoughtful beat or two before beginning your answer, it's far better than using filler words ("um," "you know," "like") to buy yourself some time. Also, brevity is good. The longer you speak, the more you're likely you are to make a mistake and say something you wish you hadn't.

Be confident.Go into the interview thinking that you're there to offer the company your experience and your expertise that will ultimately help them meet their goals. You are not going in asking them to do you a favor by hiring you.

Be specific.Generic adjectives that you think describe you (e.g., hardworking, resourceful) are not enough. Tell real stories from your previous jobs that explain how you put your resourcefulness into practice.

Don't merely give a verbal account of your previous work history as if you're narrating your resume. Allude to some quality or skill that each job helped you develop.

Be prepared.Always be prepared to answer the cliche questions: "What's your biggest weakness?" or "What's the biggest mistake you ever made?" Never admit to anything that had negative ramifications  for a previous employer.

Even though the question is designed to get you to be negative about yourself, you must drive to the positive. Try something like: "At times I've tended to be so focused on having the work meet very high standards that sometimes I haven't delegated as much as I could have. But over the past couple of years I've really come to appreciate how satisfying it can be to trust the people around me and give them the opportunity to shine."

Other questions you must have prepared answers for: "What makes you distinctive?" "Why do you want to work for us?" "What do you know about our company?"

You must go in with not only well-thought-through answers and specific anecdotes, but questions for the interviewer as well. Turning down the offer to inquire about them communicates a number of bad things: It makes them think you didn’t research the company enough to formulate an insightful question, and that you just can’t wait to get out of there. It also indicates that you don’t envision yourself getting the job, because if you had confidence that this was going to be offered to you, you would probably have a number of areas you would want to get details on.

Sell yourself.  Most people fear that showing belief in themselves and offering an appropriate amount of self-promotion will come across cocky. Better to come off self-assured than not confident.

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