The interview process is the best chance you have to set yourself apart from other candidates. This is the time to really sell yourself and to find out if the job/company is the right match for you. I’m sure you’ve heard all of the same advice for years: “ask questions, be polite, keep it professional”. Standard advice but here are a few tips that those advice givers may have overlooked that can be crucial to the success of your interview:

1. Know that the interview starts from the second the Recruiter dials your phone number

You would think this is common sense, right? But I can’t begin to tell you how often people fail at this crucial piece. If you know that you currently have active applications out there, make sure that you have a voicemail set up and that it is not currently full. Make sure that after your voicemail has been set up, that it contains a professional greeting. Also know that this etiquette applies to your tone when you answer your phone as well. First impressions are everything.

2. Clean up your Facebook page

Yes, your worst nightmares are coming true because employers DO look at your Facebook page during the interview process. Keep everything PG.

3. Answer the questions

Again, you would think this would be common sense but recruiters often receive roundabout answers to very direct questions. This can leave the impression that you are trying to cover up something, that you don’t want the Recruiter to know something or that you are not as qualified as you let on to be. It’s always best to just address an issue head-on and give honest answers.

4. Be yourself

So much of interviewing depends on soft skills (personality traits, social graces, interpersonal skills). Interviewing is not solely for the purpose of gauging your level of experience, but how you would fit in with the company culture. You can have all of the experience and education in the world but if the recruiter thinks you are not being genuine, it can be a major deal breaker. Confidence is also key.

5. Do your research

One of the best ways to show genuine interest in a position is to be knowledgeable of the job, the company and these days – the people. The best way of doing this is to have questions that show you have done your research. Candidates who didn’t do their homework have a tendency to ask questions that could easily be answered on the company’s website or in the job description online. Go beyond the company’s website. Find out if the company is active on social media or has an active blog, look for the recruiter on social media – see if you can find a common interest. With the amount of information out there today – there is no excuse for being unprepared. So make sure to do some research prior to the interview.

More often than not, the success of a job interview depends on how much you put into it. Succeeding takes preparation, research, and practice. The interview process is more about how the interviewer feels about you as opposed to how qualified you are for the job. You’ve already received an invitation for the interview, so you’re more than likely qualified. Use this as an opportunity to show how your individuality can benefit the company.