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Mastering the art and skill of a job interview is the first key to success in the networked economy. An interview is a targeted dialogue that helps the employer and the candidate get to know each other, discuss the opportunity and the company’s culture. It’s the first and most critical step in defining the role and responsibilities of the position.

Success in a job interview requires planning, research, intuition and action. Here are a few steps you can take to improve your chances of getting hired.

  • Read about the company you’re considering, talk to people in the industry and do all you can to learn about the organization. Get a sense of the company’s performance, beliefs, attitudes and realities.
  • Explore everything from the existing press and marketing materials to the style of dress.
  • Ask for bios on individuals you will meet during your interview.
  • Be early and prepared. Develop a list of targeted questions to show you’ve spent time preparing.
  • This is a prime opportunity to understand the company’s business, strategy, and competitive position and its challenges.
  • Prepare a detailed description of your background and experiences, your strengths and weaknesses, your accomplishments and successes, and areas where you need to gain skill and expertise.
  • Be sure the company defines a clear vision for the position. Measure the position against your capabilities and competencies.
  • Understand the corporate culture. Do they value growth and employee development? Do they value creativity and innovation? Do they welcome diversity? Is it a learning organization?
  • At the end of your interview ask about the hiring process. How will they make their decision?
  • Follow-up with a note, E-mail or phone call. Continue your dialogue if new questions or concerns occur to you.
  • Know your rights during an interview. There are personal subjects that are legally off limits during the interview process.
  • Know what you’re worth. Usually there will be a discussion of compensation after a successful interview or at a follow-up interview. Seek out advisers who can help you understand going rates and industry standards.
  • Interviewing is a skill, and the more experience you have the better you will become at it.
  • Remember the interview is the best place to get and give information that will be critical in making your decision and defining your future.