May marks the time of the year when college graduates enter the workforce. The first step in this process is the interview. How should you prepare to meet with a hiring manager? What can you do to help yourself get an offer?

When Denny Strigl, former Verizon Wireless CEO and author of “Managers, Can You Hear Me Now?” speaks with college students about leadership and management, these are among the most frequently asked questions.

In a recent blog post,Strigl shared the following seven steps to a successful job interview.

  1. Be prepared:  Do some research on the company. This should be obvious, but all too often job candidates under prepare. There is a lot to be learned from a simple search of the company’s website. Check their last quarterly earnings report.  Look for new product releases or any other news about the company – good or bad.  In less than an hour you can learn a lot about a company, which will enable you to answer questions you will undoubtedly be asked.  One of my favorite opening statements for a job candidate was “Tell me a little about what you know about us.”
  2. Be on time: Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early. I can’t recall ever hiring anyone who wasn’t on time for a job interview.  There is no good excuse for being late.
  3. Show you want the job: I have interviewed many people who didn’t appear to really want the job for which they were interviewing.  If it appears that you came to the interview to see if the job might be of interest to you, or you come across to your interviewer as though you’re not really sure you want the job, I can almost guarantee you will not be offered the job.
  4. Dress like you want the job: For men, this means wear a suit and a tie; for women, a business suit.  Shine your shoes!  To get the job you have to look like you really want it.  By the way, in many companies these days “business casual” is acceptable dress.  When you are hired, you can dress like other employees of the company dress.  Until you are hired look extra sharp!
  5. Listen carefully: Answer the questions you are asked!  Don’t wander off by talking about things that don’t address the question your interviewer asked.  Never try to bluff your interviewer; always tell the truth.
  6. Be inquisitive: Ask questions. When your interviewer asks if you have any questions, be ready to ask a “good” question.  Your research about the company will prove useful here.  Don’t hesitate to ask for more detail about specific job duties or something you read about the company like a new product.  Show interest!
  7. Ask for the job: At the end of the interview look your interviewer in the eye, give him or her a firm handshake, and let him or her know you are very interested in the job.  All too often candidates fail because they don’t ask for the job.

“A constant theme in my book is the importance of focusing on the fundamentals,” Strigl said. ”I’ve interviewed thousands of candidates in my 40 years in business and these are my fundamentals on how to interview for a job in the business world. The best candidates I’ve seen are those who are prepared, ask questions, appear confident and ask for the job.”

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