This idea is a bit unconventional but it is getting traction these days: go to an interview ready to “sell” yourself.
1. Read the job posting/job specs carefully and define the underlying need of the company that the position aims to fill; i.e., posting for a Production Supervisor might not exactly indicate that the successful candidate must be able to direct diverse workforce that speak different languages on the shopfloor, but it might be an essential competency for the role to be able to deliver results. Ask questions or do some research on the company’s culture to identify these underlying needs.
2. Establish rapport on the get go with a little bit of small talk to start finding common interest, without getting too familiar or personal. As Mark McCormack said: “Other things being equal, people do business with the people they like. Other things not being equal, they still do business with people they like.”
3. Be prepared to tell personal and professional stories that highlight your competency to respond and deliver to the underlying needs mentioned above. Stories that state a specific situation, your action, and the results, are compelling and holds interest. Engage the interviewer and demonstrate your “likeability” and ability to get along with most people.
4. Close the sale through successive approximations by asking good questions to find out if you are meeting the criteria. Take this opportunity to “handle objections” when you sense that there is an apparent misfit based on the interviewer’s responses to your questions. “Would you think someone like me with (state your unique selling proposition) be a good fit to this position? Not knowing your company’s culture that much yet, I might need to tell you more about myself and other aspects of my experience that could give you a sense if I fit in or not.”
5. Sincerely thank the interviewer and indicate your interest to keep in contact for future opportunities. If you can snag a YES to put the interviewer to your social/professional network, your interview – even an unsuccesful one – could be considered a relative success in the end.
Remember that the more interviews you get, the better the chances that you are expanding your social network.
Final thought: do keep in touch and find ways how you could return a favour to an interviewer; either by making referrals or just helping him/her expand his network too.