The interview is the final step in the elimination process, and the most important one. Nobody obtains a position without an interview or a series of interviews and, in most cases, the difference between the person who gets the job and the one who does not is the manner in which the successful candidate handles it.

It is important to understand that the hiring decision will not be based on your qualifications and skills. By this point in the process, the interviewer has found at least five other people who have similar sets of skills, experience and qualifications and can fill his needs as effectively as you can. It really comes down to whether the interviewer likes you. In other words, the interviewer, who is likely to be your direct supervisor, is asking himself, “Can I be around this person eight to ten hours a day, five days a week?”

As with all aspects of the job search, there is no secret formula to succeeding in the job interview. However, there are two simple rules to keep in mind:

BE YOURSELF If you obtain a position because you have played a role during the interview, the position may not be the “right fit” once you tire of playing the role.

BE PREPARED You must convince the interviewer that you are the best candidate he can find anywhere to fill his needs. No one else can do this as effectively as you.

The entire process of getting a job is one of image building or packaging. You must look, sound, act and talk like what you claim to be, or else the interviewer will not accept you for what you really are, and what you can do for their company.The first five minutes of the interview are critical in the selection process. You must be qualified to get a job; but there will always be several other people just as qualified in the mind of the interviewer. Remember, you will be hired because the interviewer personally likes you best, not because you are the most qualified. Most interviewers get a sense of whether or not they feel comfortable with you in the first five minutes.

Here are some interviewing fundamentals :

  • Smile. This may seem like it goes without saying, but many job seekers find it increasingly difficult to “put on a happy face” if and when the job search stretches beyond expectations. However, maintaining a positive outlook throughout the process is critical.
  • Be enthusiastic. “I like my work; I want this job; I will help your company.” Exhibit enthusiasm. Sell! The burden is on you to land the job!
  • Listen, listen, and listen some more. Don’t talk too much. Try to limit your conversation to no more than fifteen minutes out of the hour.
  • Land the job first; find out about it later. Don’t ask a lot of questions. Let them tell you about the job in their own way and in their own time.
  • Keep any essential questions about the company in general terms. Don’t put the interviewer on the spot by asking a question he/she may not be able or may not wish to answer.
  • Think over a question before answering it. Take time to formulate your correct response; one that sells your experience, skills, talents and abilities while at the same time continues to build the rapport you established with your interviewer(s).
  • Tell the truth – Answer fully and completely; but don’t volunteer any detrimental facts.

Do not indicate that you can easily handle the job – or you will seldom get the opportunity to try. Either you will appear overqualified for the position or the interviewer may worry that you might upset his organization. DO NOT, HOW¬EVER, INDICATE THAT YOU HAVE ANY DOUBTS YOU CAN HANDLE THE JOB.

  • Try to get the interviewer to set a price on the job. If you must give an answer, first state: “I would like a salary commensurate with the responsibilities of the position.” Many candidates overstate their salary, and the interviewer can often check out this fact with surprising ease. Overstatement of income is a major cause of job loss.

The interview does not end when the formal questions cease, or when you walk out of the office. It ends when you are out of the parking lot and out of sight.

  • Close the interview when the interviewer wants to. Don’t overstay your welcome; don’t keep talking. End the interview on a high note.