There's only one thing standing between you and a potential career - the hiring manager. In this age of economic uncertainty, to waste a job interview is to waste a golden opportunity to revive a career, start fresh or just gain valuable experience in your chosen field.
That's why it's exceptionally important to research the firm in question, highlight your value as a potential employee of the business and - most of all - exert an air of confidence (without stepping into the realm of arrogance).
In order to maximise the odds in your favour, one must first research the actual business. What does the organisation do? Why is the organisation hiring? What are its long-term business goals? What is the target market? Don't be afraid to ask the company for information before the interview itself. After all, increasing your knowledge of the business can only be positive for both sides of the table and this shows you're keen about the opportunity.
Furthermore, social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn provide a plethora of organisational information to harvest - all before you've even taken a seat. Use this to your advantage and wow the hiring manager with your knowledge of the firm. The firm could be hoping potential candidates can solve a business problem; presenting you with an easy chance to display your knowledge, expertise and experience of the firm (as well as the industry itself). This way, you're adding value to yourself as a potential member of staff; shifting from just another candidate to an organisational need.
The age-old cliché of 'first impressions count' may be a tired phrase but it still rings true. Unless requested otherwise, the typical interview staple of smart clothing (shirt/tie/trousers for men and trouser/dress/skirt/suit for women, for example) is essential in giving the best impression. You wouldn't turn up to an important occasion such as a wedding in jeans and an old t-shirt - so why would you turn up to an interview in casual clothing?
In addition, positive body language is also key. Sitting slumped in a chair, yawning or crossing arms can exert an aura of indifference, which could work against you. Sit up straight, be confident and be assertive - but not cocky. After all, you're trying to make yourself stand out from other candidates who want the job just as much as you.
The term 'interview' suggests that the hiring manager will be asking short questions and you'll be giving answers, denoting a mostly one-way conversation. However, it's important that dialogue is opened up on both sides as it's not just you being interviewed - you also need to see whether the aforementioned position is right for you, too.
Of course, opening up the interview to the hiring manager takes practice. Stuttering or getting flustered can be perceived as negative during an interview, so speaking at the right pace, a safe tone and with clarity can do wonders for your confidence. After all, that's one of the key aspects of winning over a hiring manager - confidence. Like an actor would rehearse lines for an audition, rehearsing your interview answers (and questions) can give you a boost in self-belief. Weed out perceived weak phrases like "I don't know" or "I'm not sure". Replace them with positive, well-thought-through answers that go above and beyond the interviewer's expectations.
If you believe yourself to be an appropriate candidate for the role, then you're already half way there. Justify your confidence with fully-researched questions and answers, a smart look for the occasion and examples of work in that sector in order to truly wow! the team sitting opposite you.