Bob Goldman
Talk about tension. You've come across a super job, and it's just perfect for your -- let's be honest here -- skimpy and strange skill set. Apparently, the potential employer is also under the delusion that you make a good candidate, because you have been granted an interview.

A big, fat make-it-or-break-it interview.

Naturally, you're nervous. You don't make a good first impression, and your second, third and fourth impressions are not so hot either. Somewhere around Impression No. 16, your unique personal quirks start to become somewhat lovable, but the chances are that well before the magic happens, someone else will have already nabbed the gig.

It's a dilemma, but thanks to Catherine Conlan, a contributing writer at the job resource Monster, you now have access to the "5 Best Things to Say in an Interview." They won't necessarily get you the job, Ms. Conlan admits, "but they can certainly pave the way."

Do you know the No. 1 best thing to say in an interview? Would you like me to tell you? Would you listen if I were to tell you? Are you getting really annoyed I'm asking you all these questions? The reason I'm asking questions is because, according to Howard Pines, CEO of BeamPines Inc., "the best thing a candidate can do at an interview is ask good questions."

If you're not sure what makes a question good, Mr. Pines suggests certain inquiries guaranteed to show you're engaged in the process. Two of his questions are "What are the biggest short- and long-term issues I would need to focus on in this position?" and "What would I need to focus on differently than the previous person in this position?"

While Pines certainly gets points for being focused on being focused, I suggest you stick to your usual questions, like "Why am I here?" and "What in the world makes you think I can do this job?" (And don't forget the classic question that shows you've put this interview and this job into perspective, while also demonstrating your focus on critical economic issues, "Do you validate?")

"I'm flexible" is the theme of the second set of things to say. As Ms. Conlan explains, "whether it is about possible job duties, a potential start date or simply timing for the second interview, stressing your flexibility makes you easy to get along with."

Of course, in real life, you're almost impossible to get along with, so it might be more believable if you can be flexible about saying "I'm flexible." There are lots of candidates who can say, "I'm flexible," but no one is more believable than you when it comes to saying, "I'm desperate."


Bob Goldman

Bob Goldman is a business humor writer.

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