What is the main factor in deciding whether a person is offered a job in an interview? Is it because they would be better at doing the job than the other candidates? Or that they have better experience, skills and achievements?

Although sometimes a candidate who is or has these is offered a job after an interview, they probably wouldn't be the reasons why they have been offered it. They will have been offered it because they were better at manipulating the people interviewing them than the others.

Manipulation may be a strong term to use, but in effect doing a good job interview is all about doing it. Choosing both what to say and how to say it to please the interviewers is nothing more than manipulating the truth.

In order to do this, you need to both plan for the interview well and approach it with the right attitude.

So now let's look at what you need to both know and do to do a good job interview.

You are a product:

Imagine you are in supermarket and you are looking to buy some washing powder that you've never tried before. In front of you is a selection of different brands, all of which sell at a similar price. What makes you decide which one of them you'll buy? Will you be able to tell which one is the best? Unless somebody has given you a recommendation you won't be able to until you actually try all of them.

For most people (myself included), the decision is based on the packaging. In effect how the company who makes it, markets their product to people.

You may be asking what this has to do with job interviews. Unfortunately, it has quite a lot to do with job interviews. When you are both applying for a job and doing a job interview, for the company who is looking to hire somebody, you and all the other candidates are nothing more than products which they are looking to buy. And like buying a new brand of washing powder, their decision on who to hire is normally based on how well the candidates market themselves.

So how do you sell yourself so they choose you and not the others?

Think from the interviewers' perspective:

One of my friends who works in marketing told me that the secret of successfully marketing a product is to understand the people you are aiming to sell it to. What they are looking for in the product (their needs, wants or desires). Once they know these, it makes it easier to convince a potential customer that the product they are selling is better for them than competing products.

This applies to getting a job as well. As I said before, in the eyes of the company looking to hire somebody, you are one of several products they are interested in buying. You need to market yourself successfully to them. And the best way to do this is to first of all think from their perspective.

Put yourself in their position. If you were looking to hire somebody for the job, what would you be looking for in a candidate? What type of experience would you see as essential? What type of skills or abilities would the person need to have to do the job well? What type of personality should the person have?

Once you have the answers to these, you'll know what you'll need to focus on (and conversely what to avoid) when you are asked questions in the job interview.

But to do this, you need to know what exactly the position you are having an interview for is.

Know about the roles and responsibilities:

If you don't know what exactly you will be doing in the job, how will you know what things the interviewers will be looking for in candidates? You won't. It's essential to know what the exact roles and responsibilities of the job are before you attend the interview (and preferably before you apply for the job).

By doing this, you'll know what the interviewers will be looking for and how you should market yourself in the interview. For example, if one of the responsibilities is creating and presenting reports, you would talk about your experience of doing them and how you are confident in talking in front of groups of people.

Both knowing the roles and responsibilities of the job and thinking from the perspective of the people interviewing you is essential preparation before any job interview.

But just because you are well prepared and know what to say doesn't mean that you'll perform well in the interview.

Express yourself in a professional manner:

Knowing the right things to talk about in an interview won't mean that'll get the job, you need to know how to express them. Just like what the design of packaging does on a box of washing powder, marketing yourself successfully in a job interview means that you'll need to use the right delivery, body language, tone and vocabulary:

  • Speak more slowly than you normally would do. It not only helps people understand what you are saying, but gives you more time to think about how best to answer the questions.
  • Use your hands to emphasize important things and maintain eye contact with the interviewers.
  • Vary the pitch or tone of your voice to show that you're interested in what you are saying.
  • Use professional and positive sounding vocabulary in the answers you give (e.g. 'assisted' instead of 'helped', or 'issue' instead of 'problem').

If you do this, you'll come across better in the interview and what you say will have a greater impact on the interviewers.

To see examples of professional and positive sounding vocabulary you can use in a job interview or on a CV/resume, do our 'free CV/resume and job interview online exercises'.

Don't give a sh*t about getting the job:

When I say 'don't give a sh*t', I don't mean that you shouldn't be well prepared for it or be arrogant in the job interview. What I mean is to put what you are doing in perspective. A job interview is not a life and death situation, so don't treat it with so much importance.

If you do, it's very likely to affect how you perform in the interview. You're going to be more stressed, look uncomfortable and more likely to make mistakes. This is something which the people interviewing you will pick up on.

If you don't get the job, you can apply for another one. You may have lost a few hours of your life, but nothing else. So don't worry.

You're not going to get every job:

No matter how well prepared you are or how suitable you are for the job you are applying for, you're not going to get every job you apply for. In some job interviews your face just won't fit. This has nothing to do with you, but with the people interviewing you.

In addition, you'll go to some interviews where you'll already have little or no chance of getting the job before you open your mouth. Most large companies have policies where for any vacancy they have to interview people. Even though they may have already decided who they are going to give the job to, they still have to do interviews.

In either situation, there is little that you can do. So never take a rejection personally.

Adapt your CV/resume for the position you're applying for:

Most interviewers will go into job interviews with a couple of favoured candidates. The reason they do this is because the CVs/resumes or application forms of these candidates not only look and sound professional but because they have been tailored specifically to the requirements of the job.

Although it's very possible to get a job even if you aren't one of these favoured few by giving a good performance in the job interview, you are more likely to get the job if you are.

So you shouldn't just market yourself well in the actual interview, but also in the covering/cover letter, CV/resume or application form that you send when applying for the job. So don't just send out one standard copy of your CV/resume or covering/cover letter for every job you apply for. Adapt them to meet the specific needs of the roles and responsibilities of every job you apply for.

So don't just see your CV/resume and covering/cover letter as a way to get a job interview. See them as an important part of actually getting the job you are applying for.

To see an example and get advice on creating a good CV/resume, do our free 'writing a good CV/resume example & exercise'.

In conclusion:

The secret (if you can call it that) to doing good job interviews is how well you market yourself to the interviewers (in your CV/resume, covering/cover letter and interview). When applying for a job, you are as much a product as a packet of washing powder is in a supermarket. And like with any type of product, you need to market yourself better than your competitors (the other candidates) in order to get someone to buy your services.

To know what to say, you need to think from the perspective of the people interviewing you. What would you be looking for in a candidate if you were in their position (e.g. what type of experience, skills, achievements, personality etc..). Knowing what the roles and responsibilities of the job are invaluable in being able to market yourself successfully in both the CV/resume you send them and answers you give when being interviewed.

But it's not just about what you say, but how you say it. How you speak (the speed, tone and pitch), the vocabulary you use and your body language are just as important as the words you say in convincing the interviewers that you are right for the position.

And being able to do this successfully comes down to your confidence. A job interview isn't a life and death situation. If you treat like it is, you are more likely to make mistakes in both what you say and how you say it.

No matter what anybody says (including myself), there is no 100% sure method you can use to get a job in every job interview you have. But knowing how to market yourself to potential employers, will improve your chances of being selected for a job.