The other Scheherazade asks for a post answering the question:
What do you think makes a good interview/er/ee?
A good question. I've written a little about interviewing in this post, about finding a job in a small market. One thing that's interesting about my current job is that I meet a fair number of high school students who want to be admitted to the college. They are with their parents. Nobody knows quite whether or how they can make a good impression on the college admissions folks, and I'm connected to the college, and so there's this desperate desire to impress or please me that really doesn't have much to do with me or my job at all. It's very interesting to sit on my side of the desk and talk to these folks. Because, of course, no matter what a good impression a kid or his or her parents makes on me, I can't get them into the college. I can help, perhaps, a tiny tiny little bit. I suppose if I wanted to I could hurt them, but I can't imagine a scenario where I'd do that.
Anyway, this position lets me watch nervous people who are trying to impress. One thing that's fascinating is how or whether the parents take over the conversation. Another thing that's interesting is how comfortable the student is in his or her own skin. Sometimes students act like robots, which is completely ridiculous. I expect to be talking to a 17 year old kid about something they do for fun, so a robot or a forced grown-up act is very bizarre and unwelcome. I'm looking for signs of commitment, enthusiasm, maturity, social ease, and engagement. I've been learning how to put parents and students at ease so that I can get a better sense of what a prospective student is like. I've discovered that when people are nervous there is very little useful, authentic information that I can get from them.
So that's about what I would have said back when I was in the legal world or the business world. Be yourself. That's not to encourage inappropriate casualness or excessive familiarity. But I think if you're reasonably prepared, you can and should forget your script or your talking points. You should listen and react authentically. You shouldn't be overwhelmed by the fact that it's an interview to forget that it's a conversation. You shouldn't give the other person all of the social power -- you need to retain your own power. It's okay to guide the conversation in a direction you think it should go, or to go back to something or even to disagree with something. Pretending to be excessively agreeable or smart or extremely conscientious is boring and fake. I see it with 17 year olds, and it's just silly. But I see it with their parents, too. And when and if I manage to relax them, by explaining that I'm an ally and not an adversary, and that I really don't have the power they imagine I do, I end up seeing much more interesting and much more impressive human beings.
My interview "trick," if I have one, is something I use on either side of the desk, and I've found it pretty helpful in both roles. After I've asked the questions that I wanted to ask, if there's still a good conversational feel in the room and time isn't a factor, I like to ask, "What should I have asked you that I didn't know to ask?" You get some very interesting responses to that question. It's worth a try.