Most candidates will say that the most important stage of securing a job is the interview. It is the one and only chance to make a good impression on the potential employer. Therefore, candidates should be well prepared before going for the one-on-one interview. 'We always hear that candidates get the job because they interview well,' says Sari Chung, managing director of InfraSearch Asia. 'These are people who are well prepared, articulate and easy to talk to. They also listen well and provide precise and concise answers to interviewers.' The financial crisis has heightened competition in the job market, so candidates have to brush up on their skills in order to stand out from their competitors. 'It is quite difficult to secure a job, but we do see that the market has picked up and the number of job openings has increased,' Chung says. Employers begin the judging process once they meet the candidates. Job seekers should dress accordingly and should remember that every gesture may affect the outcome of the interview. 'When shaking hands, make eye contact and smile,' Chung says. 'Handshakes should be firm but not aggressive. Try to match the grip of the interviewer. It is good etiquette to wait to sit down until the interviewer invites you to do so.' Candidates are expected to have a clear understanding of the position and the company in order to demonstrate their interest and fitness for the job. 'Before the interview, they should be well prepared,' says Raymond Tien, executive director of Elite Consulting. 'Convince the employer that you are the best person for the job. Sell your skills, your experience and, most importantly, sell yourself.' Candidates should bear in mind that the interview is the make-or-break point. However, it does not mean that candidates should remain tense throughout the interview. 'Do not be afraid to laugh with the interviewers,' Tien says. 'An interview does not need to be formal for the entire duration.' Furthermore, practice is very important. 'If you are not confident or do not have much experience of interviews, try to practise with a friend or family member,' Tien says. Practising boosts interviewees' confidence and helps them to assess the quality of their responses. 'Candidates should check for quality of information in their answers and the positive, non-verbal reinforcement of their words,' Chung says. 'By practising responses out loud, they can hear their own answers and assess their effectiveness, but they should not practise so much that they lose their spontaneity and their answers sound rehearsed.' Candidates should bear in mind that the whole interview process affects the decision of employers. They should present their best image throughout the interview. 'As the interview ends, thank the interviewers for their time and questions,' Tien says. 'Say that you would be very pleased if appointed to the job and that you look forward to hearing from them.'