A cover letter should address the needs of the employer, display enthusiasm and excitement, and describe how the skills, abilities, and experience outlined in your resume are a perfect match for the requirements of the position. Use your cover letter to show how your experience, knowledge of the company, and positive attitude will enable you to excel in this job.

Your cover letter is also an example of your work. It should be concisely written, have a professional appearance, and be free of grammatical and spelling errors. Use your cover letter to create a positive impression that, along with your resume, will convince your prospective employer to invite you in for an interview. When sending a resume to a prospective employer, you should always include a cover letter.

What should a cover letter include?

A cover letter should accomplish these three basic objectives as described below:

1.  Introduce yourself and express your interest in the job.

2.  Describe your qualifications and how they will benefit the company.

3.  Request an interview and suggest follow-up.

Read on for Typical Interview questions, examples and answers…

Q: What is a typical interview structure?

Although there is no set rule, a typical interview is scheduled for about one half-hour to an hour, and will include several phases. The first phase is an icebreaker, a few minutes of pleasant conversation so that you and the interviewer will feel comfortable with each other. Then the interviewer will get into some substantive questions, behavioral questions, and questions about your background. This will be the bulk of the interview and lasts anywhere from 15 to 50 minutes.

An employer will usually leave 5 to 10 minutes for you to ask questions. That’s a very important part of the interview and you should be prepared for it. Then there’ll be a close. The interviewer will thank you for coming in. You’ll have the opportunity to tell the interviewer what a pleasure it was to be there and how much you want the job. Usually, you’ll have to interview a second time, perhaps even a third time before getting a job offer.

Q: How many interviews should I expect with any one employer?

You can expect anywhere from two to three interviews depending on the company’s interviewing process and the number of qualified candidates applying for the position.

Q: What is an interviewer really looking for?

Some people wonder, “What can interviewers learn about me from the questions they ask and what do they really want to hear?” There are several things going through the interviewer’s mind during an interview. The first is, “Why should we hire you?” With questions of this nature, an employer is trying to learn if your skills and abilities meet the company’s requirements, if you have good communication skills, and whether you are dependable, honest, and a team player. He or she wants to find out what you will bring to the team if hired.

This article is a part II of the interview series of articles. In case you missed out, check out yesterday’s article on the top 25 insider tips to interviewing.

An interview is usually your first meeting with a prospective employer and is your opportunity to convince your interviewer that you are the right person for the job. For a successful interview, you must make a positive first impression. Answer the interviewer’s questions in ways that demonstrate that your experience and qualifications meet the requirements of the job, ask intelligent questions, and conclude by determining when the next point of contact will be.

Before the Interview

The key to a successful interview is preparation. Research the company to find information on their products, services, and industry trends that could influence present or future operations. Find out how to pronounce your interviewer’s name. Determine the appropriate dress for an interview by calling or visiting the company. Locate the company on a map and find out how long it will take you to get there. If you can, visit the company beforehand to ensure you can find the company on the day of your interview. Additionally, you will want to:

Increasing your salary is often the primary motivating factor in searching for another job. A successful salary negotiation strategy requires that you understand several key issues. You must have a realistic expectation of the appropriate salary for the position, given your geographic location, skill set, and level of responsibility. You must also understand the total value of the compensation package, where benefits and other forms of compensation can account for as much as 30% of the total value.

Additionally, the employer must recognize the value you bring to his or her company. Discuss your skills and abilities with a prospective employer and demonstrate how they match the requirements of the position. Describe how your accomplishments reflect your ability to make a positive impact on the company. The more you convince an employer of your potential value to the company, the more leverage you will have in negotiating a higher salary.

Throughout your job search, you should seriously consider several questions about your financial value and future income. What, for example, are you worth? How much should you be paid for your work? How can you best demonstrate your value to an employer? Salary negotiation is something that hiring managers are usually more experienced in than the people they hire. In the interest of leveling the playing field, here is a list of tips for salary negotiation.

1. Maximize your past experience.

Understand what you have achieved. Bring your past experiences to the table as a tool when negotiating for your salary.

2. Make a list of what you have to offer.

Know what you have to offer an employer. Make a list of your skills, abilities, talents, and knowledge. Be prepared to show your employer what value you bring to the company.

The interviewing stage of your job search is the most critical. Your success or failure in obtaining a position is often determined at the interview. However, anyone can learn to interview well, since most mistakes can be anticipated and corrected. Learn the following top 25 interviewing techniques to give you a winning edge.

1. Bring extra copies of your resume to the interview.

Nothing shows less preparation and readiness than being asked for another copy of your resume and not having one. Come prepared with extra copies of your resume. You may be asked to interview with more than one person and it demonstrates professionalism and preparedness to anticipate needing extra copies.

2. Dress conservatively and professionally.

What you wear to an interview can make a tremendous difference. It is important to convey a professional image, and it is better to overdress than underdress.

3. Be aware of your body language.

Be alert, energetic, and focused on the interviewer. Make eye contact. Non-verbally, this communicates that you are interested in what the interviewer has to say.