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COL Put yourself before a candid camera to land that next job

Do you remember how, just before your boss set your rear end out on the cobblestones, you and your mate bought that $500 video camera at the discount electronics store? You may have bought it to take memorable pictures of little Johnnie sucking his thumb, but why not use it to make adult videos?

No, not the X-rated kind. The kind that can help you find a job or improve your presentation or interview skills.

The most important pitch you're ever going to give is to your potential new boss. So let's put modern management science to work for you. First, you need two friends, one to hold the camera and the other to be the interviewer. You're not playing it for laughs. Get all your standup shtick out of your system in the first five minutes.

Make sure the interviewer is thoroughly briefed on the firm he is supposed to be representing. Tell the interviewer what kinds of questions you expect will be toughest for you to answer, but don't put the exact words in his or her mouth. You want that mock interviewer to be a tough, believable, serious questioner -- just what you would expect from the real thing. You want spontaneity.

If the questions are penetrating and well-asked, there will be moments when you hesitate, tighten up, avert your eyes or laugh something off. More than likely, you will not have been aware of your own nervous patterns.

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Tape about 15 minutes. Get your team's honest input. Where do you come across as real, enthusiastic and competent? Where do you sound phony, windy, defensive or awkward?

Do a second interview, this time a little longer. It might be better if the camera person and the interviewer switch roles. You can even do a third interview and switch roles with the interviewer, so you can see how someone else handles the toughies.

Harvey Mackay is author of the New York Times best seller "Pushing the Envelope" (Ballantine Books). He can be reached through his Web site: www.mackay.com; or Mackay Envelope Corp., 2100 Elm St., Minneapolis, MN 55414.

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