If you’re looking for work, you need to make every interview count. So, we checked with a few HR experts to see what really impresses the people who make hiring decisions:

  • Speak up. Marky Stein is the author of Fearless Interviewing. She says that a lot of people confuse interviews with interrogations. In other words, they answer a question and wait to be asked another, and they’re afraid to say anything else. But Stein recommends starting a dialogue. For example, if they ask, “How do you think you’ll fit in with this company?” answer the question. Then ask something like, “Does that sound realistic based upon your experience here?”
  • Make it personal. Executive headhunter Kent Kirch says that most applicants know the basics about the company and the industry. So, to stand out, you need to take the facts you found during your research and mesh that with your skills and personal experience. For example, say something like, “The last accounts-payable job I had dealt with nonpayment issues similar to yours. I implemented a new collections process that decreased past-due accounts by 5 percent.”
  • Follow up fast, and don’t stop with a thank-you note. Career coach Laura DeCarlo says you should always send a thank-you letter the day after your interview. Then, a week later, send an email link to an article dealing with one of the topics you discussed during your interview. Then say something like, “This touches on some of the ideas we were talking about when we met.” That’ll show them you’re eager, organized, hard-working, and humble - without making you look desperate.