Looking for a new job? These interview tips can help

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DETROIT - Do you plan on looking for a new job in 2014? Careerbuilder.com recently found one in five people plan to start a job search this year.

Finding an opening can be difficult, so once you apply for a position, it's essential to succeed in the interview process. 

"It's always a little nerve-racking. Unsure," Jon Marko told Ruth to the Rescue at the Holiday Market in Royal Oak. "You don't know who you're going to meet, what you're going to do. Sometimes you don't even know if you want the job. I know I've been there."

Like Jon, a lot of people can be intimidated by job interviews.

Ruth to the Rescue spoke to Brian Partie, Associate Director at Oakland University's Career Services, for expert advice and answers to our job interview quiz questions. 

#1. What should you NOT do to prepare for a job interview?

A. Research the company

B. Learn the company's concerns and problems

C. Practice top interview questions

D. Memorize key questions to answers


The answer is D. "They would see that you had memorized something beforehand and you were trying to recite it back," Partie said. "And chances are something would catch you off guard. It might not be framed the same way, there might be a distraction in the room or outside the room, take your train of thought away and you'd be struggling to remember what was it that you prepared beforehand."


Better advice? "Get the resume out, refresh your memory on what it is you've done in the past and what it is that they saw on your resume, your application when you submitted it. They're going to want to talk about those things...Think about scenarios that you can talk about and provide specific examples on without trying to pre-program, to write a script out for yourself," Partie recommended.


#2. When should you arrive to your interview?

A. Right on time

B. Ten minutes early

C. Thirty minutes early

D. Sixty minutes early


The answer is B. It's important to leave yourself time to anticipate problems on the road. "If you're not familiar with the location, the organization, I would definitely map it out. Get a feel for what the traffic route might be like, if there's any construction in the way. Where you'll actually park, where you'll walk in at. Those would be things to figure out before the interview takes place," Partie said. However, arriving too soon could create unnecessary awkwardness, so ten minutes early is the perfect arrival time.


#3. What's one thing that you do NOT want to do during the first interview?

A. Negotiate pay

B. Connect with the interviewer

C. Communicate why you're a good fit

D. Close by arranging the next interview


The answer is A. "Unfortunately, that has a negative connotation attached to it. And if they hear that, they worry that might be your primary reason for wanting to work for their organization," Partie advised.


Instead, he suggested letting your interviewer take the lead on negotiating salary. But, you should do some research on the cost of living in that city and the average ranges of the position for which you're applying. Then, Partie said you might respond to a question about salary like this: "I've had a chance to do some research on this organization and on this position. I understand the cost of living in this city. Based on the research I've done and what I've come to find, I would feel comfortable falling within this range. But that's negotiable, I'd love to talk to you more and to have a conversation about what that might entail."


#4. When answering questions it is important to:

A. Be specific

B. Be general

C. Stretch the facts to look good

D. Seize control of the interview whenever possible


The answer is A. "If you're not specific with them and you're not providing examples and details about times in the past where you've demonstrated those skills, or about how you've developed the skills enough to be competent enough in those areas, they can't make a decision on whether you're the best candidate for the position," Partie said.


To help you be specific and answer questions completely, Partie recommends the STAR method to structure your responses. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Results. It's particularly helpful to use when asked to explain a time when you were confronted by something in the workplace.


Partie walked Ruth to the Rescue through using the STAR method in an interview, "Talk about the Situation. The who, the what, the where, the why, the when. Paint the picture for them so they understand where you're going with this response. Get into the Task at hand, what is it that you were faced with. Talk about the Action, the actions that you took to address that task, that surround that situation. And then don't stop. Give them the Results. Let them know how that ended."


When using the STAR method, avoid as many negative connotations as possible. However, there are times when negative experiences can create lessons learned. The key is to be sure to let the interviewer know what you learned in that situation, and how you'll never make that mistake again.


Check out these 10 expert tips not seen on television:


1. Practice makes perfect: do multiple practice interviews by sitting down with family and friends


2. Review the job description and your resume beforehand to refresh your memory


3. Tailor your resume to each position to which you apply, showcasing how your experiences fit the job description


4. In the winter, wash your hands with warm water before you meet your interviewer to get rid of the cold crispness of being outside


5. Also, take a paper towel to wipe off your shoes to remove scuffs, salt, and snow


6. Maintain eye contact with your interviewer


7. If you've been unemployed for a while, focus on what you've been doing during that gap, including volunteer work


8. Send a follow-up to your interviewer within 24 hours (like a hand-written "thank you" letter) to help you stand out


9. Use online tools like LinkedIn.com to network and research companies


10. Use glassdoor.com, salary.com, or salaryexpert.com to research the average salary range of a position and company information.

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