Originally published by Neil Blumenthal on LinkedIn: How to Nail a Job Interview

There are two elements to nailing a job interview: form and substance. "Form" describes the outer layer of your character--your manners, your demeanor, your social skills. "Substance" describes the inner core of your character--your intellect, your empathy, your creativity. In order to nail a job interview, you must demonstrate that both your "form" and "substance" match harmoniously with the company you're hoping to work for.

Form is the easier element to master. Among the basic rules: smile, be polite, and demonstrate kindness to everyone you happen to encounter during your interview, from the most junior intern to the CEO. This is fundamental stuff. Share your personality with interviewers, but keep a professional filter safely adhered to it.

Next, research the company thoroughly before setting a foot in the door, reading not just their own website but also a spate of recent articles. Research any major initiatives they've launched over the past years. Be conversant with the company's history. This will put you on solid ground when you step inside. If you can demonstrate during your interview that you understand the nuances of the organization, you'll score big points. If faced with two competitive candidates, every company will hire the person who evinces more enthusiasm.

The "substance" portion of interviewing requires some reflection. First, pull up your resumé and look at it through the eyes of a potential employer. Prepare clear, concise explanations for changes in your career. Why did you leave a certain job at a specific time? Why did you join another organization? If you switched industries, what led to that decision? You should be able to create a coherent narrative out of your work trajectory.

Second, reflect on major projects you've worked on and create "case studies" around them. You should be able to systematically explain your process, articulating the results of the project and any lessons you learned. If you have numbers, share those numbers.

Finally, be sure to ask at least one thoughtful question. It doesn't need to be an aggressively challenging question (it shouldn't be--you don't want to stress your interviewer out!). It should be something you're genuinely curious about. You might ask your interviewer, "Why did you decide to come here?" or "What's different about it than you expected?" Aim for a conversation-starting prompt, not a  "yes or no" question.

Starting a candid conversation is one way to reintroduce the (often ignored) reality that job interviews are a two-way street. After all, your interviewer is auditioning too, simply by representing his or her organization to candidates like you. Just remembering this fact can go a long way in easing interview jitters.

Takeaways:
1. Be personable to everyone you interact with.
2. Know everything about the company.
3. Be able to articulate your personal narrative.
4. Use case studies from your own work.
5. Ask a good question.