I am prepping several people for interviews - hooray! What a great opportunity for them to further explore whether this is the right fit job for them.
Obviously, in this economy, people are grateful that they have even gotten an interview. It IS wonderful to be asked to come to an interview. Remember that you've gotten the chance because you did your homework and made the case that you would be a good fit for the job. That should help you avoid the temptation to mold your responses to what you think the employer wants to hear.
You clearly have the basic qualifications - that is certain if you get an interview in this climate. There probably are many other people who meet the qualifications as well.
So why did you get an interview? The employer liked the personality and message you initially conveyed.
In the interview, the employer wants to hear more about how you will meet their needs and to see if the "chemistry" is right between the two of you. The interview also is your first opportunity to hear how well the employer meets your must have list.
Here are some things to do that will improve your chances of doing well in the interview.
* Stick to the strategy you used in your cover letter. In answer to any questions you can, tie your experience and skills to the employer's needs and challenges. Complete your answer and then say how you see this skill or experience as relevant to the employer's situation.
* Tell stories to imprint your experience and skills into the interviewer's mind. The stories should be short - maybe 30 seconds long, with a beginning/middle/end. Rehearse some stories to illustrate one of your key skills or experiences that relate well to the employer's situation. Then say "I'll do that for you in xyz area" to draw the direct comparison. They need to know the link, and to know that you've thought enough about the situation to make that connection.
* Whenever you can, focus on the problems you'll solve for the employer, and the value you'll provide. The interviewer is very familiar with the challenges and issues they face, and wants to know that you are also. Make sure you do your research before the interview. Read the website to see the company's purpose or mission, the future plans they may have, market conditions they face, their competition, and key projects and activities. See how your job will fit in with all of that.
* Make sure you tell the employer why you want to work for THEM in particular. Sincere flattery works wonders to impress on an employer that you understand how great they are. Also emphasize that you really want to work on the challenges they offer.
* Ask the interviewer questions that will help you assess how well the employer and job will meet your "Must Have List." If you are concerned about culture, ask "what is the culture like here?" If you want to know about the position's influence and impact, ask what would constitute success in the position. Ask about the company's future plans. One exception: Hold off on talking about compensation. The first interview is NOT the time for that.
* In the interview, remain enthusiastic and friendly. Even if you hear something you don't like, file the information away and continue being open. This is the time only for information-gathering. It is not the time to decide whether you want the job or not. Simply register the information. You will use it later to make a decision.
* Allow yourself to really want the job. Your enthusiasm for the job and your conviction that it is the job for you will come through as enthusiasm, not desperation. By asking your own questions, you will naturally temper any hint of what could be construed as too much eagerness. In general, employers want to hire people who want to work for them. If it turns out the job is not for you, you can handle the disappointment. By allowing yourself to want it, though, you could give yourself the edge you need to be offered the job.