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Getting the job is often about much more than having the requisite experience and education. Simply being able to perform a job doesn’t mean you’ll get the chance. Pickens Technical College strives to give all students a fighting chance at jobs in their desired field by building hands-on experience and merging that with classroom study led by industry leaders. PTC even has Career Advisors who can help you with interview preparation and resume writing.

But in the end, getting the dream job comes down to acing the interview.

Before we dive into the specifics of standing out from other candidates in the interview stage of the recruitment and hiring process, pat yourself on the back if you’ve been contacted for an interview. This means that you’ve already beaten out dozens or more candidates who turned in resumes. But, as Will Smith’s character says to Kevin James’ character in the movie Hitch: “Don’t blow it.”

There are many ways to stand out in an interview, but they’re only a few ways to stand out in a positive way in an interview. Different hiring managers at different companies are of course looking for different things in candidates, but for the most part, they’re looking for professional, hard-working, skilled, housebroken, socialized individuals who will add something new to the team.

Here are a few tips to give you an advantage over your competitors in the interview stage:

Respect the Gatekeepers

Many employers will have an administrative assistant, receptionist, or intern schedule the interview for you and welcome you to the office when you show up. Even though these gatekeepers are usually lower on the corporate totem pole than the hiring manager you’ll be talking to, going out of your way to be courteous and respectful to them goes a long way in giving a positive impression of yourself. Make small talk with the receptionist, smile, giggle at their jokes; these are people you might be sharing a work environment with later anyway.

Dress the Part

A word about appropriate interview dress: you won’t get the job because of what you’re wearing, but you can lose a job with your outfit. Even for jobs that will likely have you never wear slacks at the office ever again, it’s better to over-dress than to under-dress.

Know Who You’re Talking To

Of course, you’ve researched the company you’re about to interview for, but have you researched your interviewers? Sometimes you won’t know exactly who will be in the room with you, but many times, you can look at a company website and learn about its founders, its hiring managers, its CEO, its HR department, etc. Learn as much as you can beforehand about who will interview you so you can find commonalities and connect on a somewhat personal level.

Prepare for “Tell Me About Yourself”

Many times, the “tell me about yourself” portion of the interview is the most dreaded. It often comes early in the interview, and if you don’t have a good response, it can set a disadvantageous tone for the whole process. Prepare your answer ahead of time—you could even write it out—because encapsulating your essence in a few sentences for your interviewer is more difficult than you might think.

These are only a few tips to get you through your interview. For more help in preparing to get a job after Pickens, visit the Career Services office on campus for personalized assistance and job listings.