Making an Interview Work

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Today's ultracompetitive job market is inducing more candidates to adopt misguided methods to stand out in an interviewer's mind. The old saw, "You want to stand out for the right reasons," applies more than ever. Tuesday's Wall Street Journal provides a useful roundup of tried-and-true interview advice.

A few tactics prone to backfire: Arriving an hour early for an interview (it's best to arrive 10 minutes before your scheduled time); mentioning your own current financial or personal challenges; handing out bound summaries of your past work-related projects.

Other interviewing chestnuts that remain as valid today as 20 years ago:

- Have a firm handshake

- Stay focused on the interviewer

- Exude an upbeat attitude, and never mention personal woes.

- Do your homework on the employer, then show it by relating your background and record with the company's needs.

- Mention past accomplishments that are relevant to the opportunity, not just responsibilities - just as you did in your customized resume that got you the interview.

- Say nothing about compensation until the employer has made an offer.

- Know what similar positions pay in case you're pressured to name your price during the interview.

- If you view the job as just a stopgap, don't let that feeling slip out. You'll be eliminated from consideration immediately if the interviewer detects, or even suspects, any lack of enthusiasm. (I've experienced this personally.)

- Quality-check your follow-up communications with the same care you put into proofreading your resume and cover letter. An error there could put all your effort to waste.

- After an interview and initial thank-you message, wait at least a week before checking on your candidacy.

- Don't call a recruiter's cell number even if it's listed on her business card. Call only the office number.