In the current climate, just getting a job interview can be a difficult task. Official government figures indicate that the unemployment rate is dropping, but that doesn’t include people who are underemployed — and it doesn’t include those whose benefits have run out. Some argue that the “real” unemployment rate is much higher than the official 8.9% figure seen in February.
When you consider how many people might be competing for the same position, it becomes extra important to nail that interview. You will need to show that you are a problem solver, and that you are prepared to come in and work hard for the company. How you do this in the interview can mean the difference between getting hired  and looking for yet another company to interview with.
Know the Employer
You should know the employer. You should understand what the company does, and how the company compares to other organizations in its field. If you can, find out the names and titles of the interviewers you will be seeing. Then, do some research on them so that you have an idea of their style and positions.
You can find information on the company, and key personnel by checking the company web site, and by looking at LinkedIn profiles. It is also possible to learn more about the latest company news and the challenges facing the company by going through news stories and press releases. Understand the job requirements of the position for which you are applying, and then find out what issues, problems and responsibilities you might face. Think about how you would overcome them.
Illustrate Your Skills with Relevant Stories
Practice telling brief, but illustrative, stories about your accomplishments in the past. These stories should highlight the skills that are relevant to the position, and show how you overcame a problem, or how you provided value for a client. You don’t want to go into long detail, so think of two or three interesting stories from your career  that could help you make a point, and use them when appropriate.
Also, be sure to listen to the interviewer. If you have an interviewer that wants to talk about his or her hobby, or is describing a position, or telling his or her own story, listen. You can take notes as well. This is appropriate during interviews, as long as you look professional, and your notes are professional (you never know when someone will see them). A portfolio with a pad inside can be a great tool.
Be Ready with Questions
Your interview isn’t just about answering questions that a potential employer has for you; you should also ask questions. You can ask questions that show your knowledge of a situation, such as “How are you handling…?”, or ask a question about the position: “What is a typical day like for someone in this position?”
Try to come up with a few questions that can be used at relevant points during the interview, and make sure you save at least one or two for the end. When an interviewer asks if you have questions, that is your cue to ask a good question. “How much does this job pay?” does not count as a good question. You can ask why the position exists, or what caused the opening at this time. Or you can ask a question about the hiring process or what the interviewer likes best about working at the company.
Thorough preparation is important these days. If you want to make a good impression, you have to be ready ahead of time. Do you have any other tips for nailing a job interview?