It is always the first and lasting impression that the interviewer remembers. The interview is the one situation where the old adage, you only get one chance make a good first impression really applies.

Being the most qualified candidate does not guarantee you the position. There are many factors that cause a candidate to receive a job offer.

Each hiring manager is different in this selection process.

A hiring manager may have several interviews in one day. As he/she reflects on the time spent with each candidate, the candidate that made the most solid, lasting impression is always remembered and is put on top of the resume stack.

The first interview is usually more of a disqualifying interview than a qualifying interview. You will be observed, and asked questions about your salary history, what you want to do in five years, etc. The answerers to these questions usually determine whether or not you are invited back for a second interview.

The following information is not about your experience or your skill set. It is about how to be the "Most Impressionable Candidate"; this is what makes the lasting impression on the hiring manager.

Resume Writing

You've put together your basic resume, a great first step in landing your next job. Now get the results you're hoping for - plenty of attention from employers - by making sure your resume attracts the attention it deserves.

Stand out from the crowd with these 5 tips:

Cover Letter

The cover letter is usually the first thing the hiring manager sees, and is one of the best tools to make a positive first impression. The following tips can help you make sure you convey the right messages:

  • Use Active Language:

    Choose words that convey action, place verbs at the beginning of sentences, and avoid passive language.

  • Include Accomplishments:

    Grab employers' attention by including your major accomplishments under each job description, not just a list of duties. Highlight industry education, or specialized training.

  • Customize Your Resume for Each Position:

    Identify the skills, experience, and requirements each employer is looking for, and include them in your resume where applicable.

  • Write a Clear, Concise Objective:

    Target your objective statement to the specific position you're applying by pointing out how your skills meet the requirements of the job. Avoid flowery, vague or overused language.

  • Take a Bold Approach:

    Attract employers' attention with a great cover letter expressing your enthusiasm and professionalism.
    Avoid being too wordy –make sure each sentence has a purpose.

  • Tailor the cover letter specifically to the job opening and company.
  • Research the firm and the industry through the Internet, trade publications, and the library. Within the letter, demonstrate your knowledge of the field and the position's requirements, and explain why your background meets the organization's needs.
  • Be careful not to rehash your resume in the cover letter.
  • Instead, focus on key aspects of your background that relate directly to the job opportunity.
  • Address the letter to the person hiring for the position. Verify and double-check the spelling of the name and the person's title.
  • Use short paragraphs.

Interviewing Skills

You have been invited to an interview because the hiring manager believes you may be a good match for the job opening. The interview is used to determine whether or not you are qualified for the position, motivated to do the job, and the right fit. As the job seeker, you should make use of this time to determine whether you can be successful in the available position and whether the company will give you the opportunity for professional growth and

career development.

Interview Do's:

  • Arrive on time or a few minutes early. Make sure you know the route and allow for traffic. Have a current copy of your resume with you.
  • Greet the interviewer by last name if you are sure of the pronunciation. If not, ask the employer to repeat it.
  • Project energy and enthusiasm. Smile and shake hands firmly. Keep eye contact.
  • Wait until you're offered a chair before sitting. Sit upright, and look alert and interested at all times. Listen carefully and respond succinctly and articulately. Make sure you answer the question specifically.
  • Early in the meeting, try to get the interviewer to describe the job and the duties to you so you can focus your responses on your background, skills, and accomplishments that relate to the position.
  • Be sincere and truthful while focusing on communicating your specific professional achievements that relate to the job opening.
  • Verbally highlight your talents and accomplishments, but be careful not to "brag."

Interview Don'ts:

  • Don't answer with a simple "yes" or "no." Explain whenever possible.
  • If you don't understand a question, or need a moment to think about it, say so. Never pretend to know something or someone when you don't.
  • Don't rely on your application or resume to do the selling for you. Interviewers will want you to be convincing.
  • Don't make negative remarks about present or former employers. When explaining your reasons for leaving, communicate your rationale professionally.
  • Don't over-answer questions. If the interviewer steers the conversation into controversial - or even illegal - topics, try to do more listening than speaking. Keep your responses non-committal.
  • Don't inquire about salary, vacations, benefits, bonuses, or retirement on the initial interview unless you are sure the employer is interested in hiring you. If the interviewer asks what salary you want, give a range based on your research of the job market, but indicate that you're more interested in the opportunity for continued learning and professional development than in a specific salary.

Be Prepared for Commonly Asked Questions

Be prepared to respond to the question, "Tell me about yourself," by creating a 15-second "sound bite" that describes your professional background and strongest skills in two or three sentences. Vary your response according to the specific job opportunity and offer a brief description of why you would be a good fit for the position. One of the best ways to prepare for an interview is to rehearse with a tape recorder and then critique your answers.

Employers who ask this question are usually looking for a short synopsis of your experience. Be sure to demonstrate how you've developed professionally and be objective when listing your strengths and weaknesses.

Hiring managers tend to ask this question in order to gauge your level of enthusiasm for the work that you do. They're also looking for a direct connection between your current position and the one for which you're applying.

This question seems straightforward, but it can sometimes be difficult to answer if you haven't thought about it beforehand. There are two important factors to include in your answer. The first is to use your knowledge of the company to show your sincere interest. Second, give a specific reason the position for which you're applying appeals to you (other than the fact that you need a job).

It's imperative to be as diplomatic as possible when answering this question. Avoid becoming too personal. Instead, focus on your previous supervisor's management style and the manner in which he or she communicated. The interviewer is looking for some indication as to how well you would get along with your future boss, if you were hired.

Many employers ask this question to see what kind of balance you are looking for between your personal and professional lives. While it's good to list one or two activities, be careful not to list too many activities as the employer may wonder if outside interest will interfere with your work.

Avoid mapping out a detailed plan when answering this question. Instead, describe what you feel is the next logical step or steps in your career path.

Dress for a Successful Interview

Conveying a professional image is crucial during a job interview. Some experts believe that 65 percent of the decision to hire a person is based on nonverbal communication, a good portion of which is your appearance.

How formally should you dress?

This depends on the job. You want to show professionalism, so in most cases casual wear is out. Dress a little more conservatively than you would for the job on a regular basis. Bear in mind that a dress or a suit conveys respect for the company that is interviewing you. Understand the culture of the company, and try to dress accordingly.

What men should wear

A suit should be dark enough to convey authority (blue, gray, khaki or beige), but not too dark (black). Shirts should be long-sleeved with no fraying collars or cuffs, and in a solid color that is lighter than the suit or coat. The tie should complement the suit; patterns should be muted. Avoid pins and ties that convey political or religious affiliations. Wear a conservative watch. Polish your shoes.

What women should wear

Women also should opt for suits, choosing an outfit that is fashionably conservative. Wool or wool blends work best in winter; a linen/synthetic mix is good for summer. Accompanying blouses or sweaters should be made of silk, cotton or polyester that looks like silk. Avoid low necklines and short skirts. Accessories should be simple, such as a coordinating necklace. Pumps that are as dark or darker than the suit are the best shoe choice. Avoid sandals, open-toed shoes and high heels that top 3 inches in height. Carry a handbag or briefcase, but not both. Keep makeup light.

The Truth About the "Counter Offer"

No matter what the circumstances are when an employer is forced to make a counter-offer, the employee who stays will always be questioned in terms of loyalty. He/she is no longer considered to be a team player and will usually be the first to go.

Counter-offers are crisis avoidance measures and stall devices to give the employer time to find a suitable replacement.

An applicant's reasons for wanting to leave an employer are still existent; just a bit more tolerable because of a raise (or whatever).

Reputable companies don't make counter-offers. EVER! Their policies are fair and equitable and they will not subject themselves to blackmail.

Bosses hate to lose people to a better offer, so they make a counter offer to buy time so that they may dismiss the employee on their own terms.

Counter-offers are made only because of a threat to quit.