One of the most frequent questions I receive from peers is, "How do you ace an interview?" Folks, let me tell ya... the preparation is the most important part. Just with any live performance, practice makes perfect. However, preparation is apart of a bigger package.
I truly believe the success of an interview is derived from three key factors: Personality, Presentation and Preparation.
Let's start with the first... Personality.
The reason you get called in to an interview is because you've passed the credentials test through your resume and cover letter. If you didn't have the right experience for the position, you wouldn't get the interview. It is during the interview that they want to see what's beyond the paper. The ticket is to let your personality shine. They want to hire you as a person, not a robot. Let your dazzling personality come out in your responses to their questions. Loosen up and relax.
Secondly... don't forget the Presentation.
I am of the personal belief that one should always look presentable. You never know when you are going to run into someone important or have to make an impromptu presentation/speech/toast/debate! To me, looking presentable for an interview means styling your hair (fun buns don't cut it for an interview), keeping your nails clean (treat yourself to a neutral manicure) and doing your makeup in a natural manner.
In my opinion, men have it a lot easier than women. For a guy to look sharp, all he's gotta do is put on a suit, dress shoes and have a clean hair cut. For a woman, she has to find the balance between professional and feminine. Nothing says newbie like an oversized pantsuit. I think you'll never go wrong with a nice dress and blazer and nothing gives confidence like heels. Unless of course you struggle walking in them and then... well, they won't give you much confidence.
Regardless, a person judges your level of confidence within the first 30 seconds of meeting you. Your physical presentation will play a large part in this. Dress well and comfortably, stand tall and look people straight in the eyes.
Lastly, the ultimate success of an interview lies on the Preparation you do before hand.
Before any interview, I suggest doing a fair amount of research on the company, the department you are applying to and the people you are interviewing with. One easy way to do this is Google News. Look at the most recent news articles written on the company. Check out the LinkedIn profiles of your interviewers; see where they started and their progression. Another secret weapon I always use is Glassdoor. In my interview at LinkedIn, I scoured over Glassdoor looking for potential interview questions, reading reviews of the company and learning about the average salaries. For those who have never used Glassdoor, it is a go to for interview prep. I even write reviews after I interview at companies. Practically all of the questions I received at my interview at LinkedIn, I was prepared for because I saw them as examples on Glassdoor.
Additionally prepare for some very specific questions about the company that you might be asked. One question that I think is really telling, but could be out of left field in the interview is, "What is our CEO's name?" One would think that is an important thing to know. Another question that a friend received in an interview is, "Which one of our campaigns did you like the most?" for a PR Agency. Knowing this information is vitally important.
Do your homework on the company's demographics, quarterly earnings reports and reputations within the industry. That way you look very well informed when you casually bring them up.
Lastly, always have a few questions to ask at the end of an interview when they say, "Do you have any questions for us?" As a general rule of thumb, ask questions you actually want to know the answer to... don't ask the questions that will make you "look good." They've heard 'em all before. Someone who asks, "What is the turnover rate like for employees? i.e. How loyal are your employees?" will look a lot sharper than someone who says "What is the culture like here?"
Best of luck in your upcoming interviews. Stay calm, dress well and do your homework.