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5 Things You Must Do In An Interview

Tuesday, 30 Jun 2009 | 10:43 AM ET

I’ve hired thousands of people over the years – everyone from college interns to MBAs to VPs to Managing Directors.

There are certain behaviors exhibited during an interview that are bound to help your chances of getting a second interview, and ultimately getting that coveted job offer!

And just in case my opinion isn’t enough …. I recently moderated a panel at the Forte Foundation Conference in New York City, and the three panelists all agreed on these behaviors, so take note!

1. Have a strong pitch: A pitch is a 30 – 60 second overview of what you are all about and what you can do for the company you are interviewing for. Months ago, I wrote a CNBC column giving a template of a pitch so you can Google my name and find it. But make sure you make it “your own”. Make sure it’s authentic and make sure it resonates with the interviewer. Saying something unique about yourself can set you apart from others.

2. Enthusiasm: Show this during the interview because only the top 10 – 20% of candidates do. Make sure the interviewer knows you are excited to be there, and are pleased to discuss your background, your skills and abilities, and how you can bring them to bear on the company you are interviewing for.

3. Do your research: before you step into that room, make sure you have researched the company, and the opportunity, and the person you’ll be interviewing with (if possible). This pre-work will considerably lower your stress level which will enable you to perform better. Think about your strengths and weaknesses and have specific examples of both. It shows that you are self aware, mature and articulate when discussing tough topics. Remember, in the interview process, past performance is an indication of future performance, so make that strong first impression and you’ll have an edge over other candidates.

4. Demonstrate that you can think on your feet: No one will know how to answer every single interview question, but you have to be able to think and do the best you can with what you do know. Don’t make things up if you are clueless, but creatively make a comparison of how you did something that was perhaps slightly different. If you need to pause to think about a response, feel free to do so. It shows maturity, intelligence and composure.

5. Show that you can persevere: Perseverance is critical in business. We are not always going to win the client, make a profitable trade, or come in under budget. Stay tenacious and constantly strive to raise the status quo. It will pay off in the end. And don’t be afraid to ask questions and get feedback when things don’t go well. We learn so much when things don’t work out so don’t let that opportunity pass you by.

There are other qualities to a successful interview candidate, but these rise to the top of the list. If you’ve read the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, you’ll see that those in life that practice, significantly practice, do rise to the top. Practice your pitch, practice describing your strengths and weaknesses (make sure your weaknesses are not critical to the job), and practice focusing on the question asked and answer it directly. So many candidates wander in a completely opposite direction. These qualities will serve you well!

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Connie Thanasoulis-Cerrachio is a career coach and co-founder of SixFigureStart and has worked for the bluest of blue chips for the past 25 years. Her companies include Citigroup, Pfizer, and most recently as the COO of Campus Recruiting for Merrill Lynch. Connie also co-authors a career blog for Vault.com.

Comments? Send them to executivecareers@cnbc.com

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