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So you’ve just landed the interview that represents the culmination of your job search efforts. If you’re looking for the most reliable path to a successful interview and a shining career, there are a few initial steps to take that can transform any interview from dismal disaster to stellar success.

First, scout out the company. Learn about what they do overall, any notable recent achievements or any recent issues. Also, learn about the specific division for which you are interviewing such that you can sound reasonably competent when discussing the position and anticipate requirements.

If the company has a website, as most do, study its key facts. Learn how large it is, its specialties, any recent events of note, etc. Pay particular attention to details concerning the position for which you will interview to both sound more competent and to prepare interview questions of your own.

Also, check the news. While much of what you need to know should ideally be on the company’s main site, still more can be found throughout various news sources. Also, chances are that the person with whom you are interviewing knows at least tangentially most of the information found on the company site, and can identify from where you’ve gotten it. Providing information from another news source will indicate to the interviewer that you’ve likely done research more thorough than that conducted by other applicants.

Once you’ve collected as much information as is reasonable, use that information to formulate questions for the interviewer. After all, the best interviews are two-way exchanges, and it’s as much your responsibility to determine if the job meets your standards as it is for the interviewer to decide. Also, interview questions convey that you are interested enough in the position to want more information than has been provided already, and can be a great means of dropping facts found during your research.

It is good to have at least three questions for the interviewer. If you’re lost for good ideas, here are some creative tips to get you started. If details on benefits and salary are not entirely clear, each represents fertile ground for questions. You might also ask about some aspect of company operations that may either relate to your position or might be unclear in the context of the research you’ve done. News stories also often include hooks or other hints for great questions.

Of course, it is essential to arrive to your interview on time, perhaps a few minutes early to appear punctual and attentive to detail. You should be well dressed and groomed, attentive and professional. Try to seem as interested in the position as you’d hope the interviewer is in hiring you to fill it.

Many interview candidates will not follow the previous advice. They will show up, answer the interviewer’s questions and leave without having left a significant impression. As such, by scouting out the company in advance, you will already be ahead of much of the competition before even walking through the door.

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