To succeed at a job interview, career advisers and interviewers suggest that you:
* Research the firm you are interested in joining. At least read the annual report. "If you go into Xerox and only know they make copiers," says George Washington University's Barbara Fitzgerald-McClain, "that organization isn't going to be impressed with you."
* Find out as much as you can about the interviewer. Ask friends who work in the firm about interests, temperament, idiosyncracies.
* Know specifically what you want to do. Be prepared to explain how your skills relate to a specific opening.
* Make a list of positive points about yourself you want to convey. Advises Acacia Mutual's Ruth Sutton: "Don't be afraid to say, 'This is one of my strengths' or 'I'm a good numbers cruncher' or 'My human-relations skills are good.' "
* Prepare a list of questions you want to ask. Include such things as company policies and future plans.
* Cram the night before. Take advantage, says author Theodore T. Pettus, of the brain's "incredible capability" to "retain an awesome amount of information, if only for a very short time."
* Practice your responses. Ask a friend to join you in role-playing and to possibly alert you to annoying characteristics. "Twisting your hair," says Fitzgerald-McClain, "slang or speech patterns such as saying, 'You know . . . you know.' "
* Be on time. Or phone ahead if you will be delayed. Says Bechtel's Martha McCartney: It shows "consideration -- and professionalism."
* Watch your appearance. "It doesn't have to be your best bib and tucker," says McCartney. But, warns Interface Group's William H. Marumoto, a talented writer "blew it" with a Fortune-500 company when he showed up in "open shirt, loud trousers and a chain around his neck."
* Carry a portfolio of your work. Says Marumoto: "It might be a planning document, position paper or marketing program. It shows the interviewer in black and white something he might not see otherwise."
* Give the interviewer your full attention. Says author Peggy J. Schmidt: "Impress them with your enthusiasm. Employers love to hear somebody wants to work for them."
* Consider the interview as a conversation. "If you perceive it as a life- and-death situation," says Fitzgerald-McClain, "your anxiety level increases."
* Don't initiate salary discussions in the first interview. But know in advance what range they may offer so you don't sell yourself cheaply.
* Be tenacious. Says Pettus: A company can bog down in the hiring process, pinning you "in a no-man's land. If your interviewer said he would call you in four days but fails to do so, you must call him. If he was less specific, give him one week maximum, then call."