In these trying times, getting called in for an interview can be your one and only shot at getting hired.  With that in mind, every interaction you have with a company’s staff must be carefully planned so that it’s not wasted.

We’ve conducted some job interviews back in our corporate days and you’d be surprised how many people miss simple opportunities to seal the deal.  Here is what always impressed us with a candidate:

Come prepared. Do you know about the role?  Do you know what our company does? Do you have a copy of your resume?  Coming prepared signals that you are interested and bosses like “hungry” candidates.  It also indicates that you’re the type of person who does their homework.  As a manager, whom do you want sitting next to you in that weekly update meeting, the staff who has a notebook full of answers or the person who barely remembered the meeting?

Sell what makes you a fit.   You might not have all the aspects of the job description.  But if you made it this far, it means that they like what they see on paper.  So sell yourself!  Tell them what you do well, why you’re a pleasure to work with and how you think you’re a fit.  When it boils down to it, the decision on who to bring on board is often swayed by who was better “liked.”  If two candidates are equally matched, the one who typically wins is the one with the better selling skills.

Tell me how you’ll make our lives easier. Hey, bosses have enough on their plate.  Ideally, they would like it if you could come in on day one and pick up the job with minimal assistance.  Since that isn’t reality, if you can tell them how you’ll make their life easier, you’ll stand a good chance of getting a job offer.

Be gracious. Selling yourself is one thing, being cocky is another.  Always speak humbly of what you can do, your competitors and your former employers.  No one is perfect and there is always someone whom is better than you.  It’s okay to be confident, just don’t let that boarder on being arrogant.  Also, always follow up the interview with a thank you note or email.  Bosses always remember who did/didn’t send one.

When it comes time to make a decision, hiring managers take many things into account.  However, a lot of what is asked/garnered during the interview process is really more about you as a person.  People like to work with others whom they can relate to, get along with and feel will do the job.  If you follow the tips above, you just may sway things in your favor if it comes down to you and another candidate.  Good luck out there!