Subtle tips for standout interviews

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Be real. Present yourself as the right person for the job, not as the perfect candidate in every conceivable way. Candidates who seem too good to be true tend to be met with apprehension. You also want to make sure that you'll be comfortable in the position, should you be offered it. For example, don't claim to be at ease when interacting with high-level executives if you're not, or say that you like a laid-back environment when you actually prefer a more structured one. Even if the dishonesty doesn't come out during the interview, it can lead you into a job or corporate environment that you simply won't enjoy.

Look sharp. While this may seem fundamental, many IT professionals still fail to dress appropriately for interviews. In a Robert Half Technology survey, 35% of CIOs said a business suit is the most appropriate interview attire. Another 26% cited khakis and a collared shirt as proper apparel, with tailored separates a close third choice, at 24%. Dressing professionally is easy to do, so don't take chances. Comfortable and confident body language is also commonly overlooked. Ask a trusted friend to critique your clothes and physical presence well in advance of your interview date.

Follow up with a purpose. All conscientious candidates follow up with the hiring manager after the interview. To distinguish yourself, treat the follow-up as an extension of the conversation. Use your thank-you note to reinforce a key point from your discussion or even to provide supporting evidence of your qualifications, such as a link to an article you wrote for an industry publication or the URL of your professional blog.

These days, just reaching the interview stage requires a lot of hard work. By taking a little extra time to fine-tune your approach, you can help ensure that the hiring manager gets a good look at you not only as an IT professional, but also as a potential colleague. Even if you don't receive an offer, you'll prepare yourself for an even stronger interview the next time an opportunity arises.

Dave Willmer is executive director of Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of IT professionals for initiatives ranging from e-business development and multiplatform systems integration to network security and technical support. The company has more than 100 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at www.rht.com.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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