Simple mistakes can cost you a new job, according to Patricia D. Sadar, a 20-year veteran of human resources management and author of Congratulations…You Aced the Interview and Congratulations…You’re Hired ( Here are some tips from Sadar to acing your interview:

> Prepare for the interview — what you do before, during, and after counts. Know how to get there and allow extra time so you don’t arrive late. Don’t use strong cologne or tobacco products, and don’t drink coffee beforehand, all of which can be smelly turn-offs. Do pop a breath mint — not chewing gum, which has no place in an interview. If your palms are sweaty, wipe your hand discreetly before giving a firm handshake. Follow up with a thank-you note to the interviewer within 24 hours.

> Be truthful when asked about weaknesses. People often avoid these questions or answer by presenting what they consider to be a strength as a weakness, such as “I’m a workaholic” or “I’m a perfectionist.” The interviewer wants to know if you can recognize your weaknesses and how you’re working on them, or whether you can admit mistakes and learn from them. Be prepared to honestly discuss one weakness and one past mistake.

> Ask questions, but not about salary, benefits, sick, or vacation time. Go prepared to ask three to five questions about the business, the department, or the position. You might ask the interviewer to describe the ideal candidate for the job, what she most enjoys about working for the business, or what the business’s biggest challenges will be in the coming year.

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