INTERVIEWS are important hiring tools, so it pays to be prepared and aware of the techniques you can employ before you sit down for that crucial encounter.

When you are called up for the interview, chances are your battle is already half won; the hiring manager has already decided that you have the right skill sets or experience.

What you need to do is convince the interviewer that you are the right person, and that means establishing a bond.

Chemistry is at play, and that is hard to control. As Mr Robert Walters, founder of recruitment firm Robert Walters, says: "Recruitment is an art. It's gut feel."

Still, you can always work hard at increasing your chances.

One effective technique is to get the interviewer to like you by associating yourself with things that he or she likes, such as golf or competitive sports, says executive coach and founder of NeXT Corporate Coaching Services Paul Heng.

"Interviewers typically feel more comfortable with interviewees who are somewhat like themselves - those that subscribe to working smart versus working hard, those with an overseas degree, same nationality and so on," he says. "Subconsciously, they would rate such candidates higher on the hiring scale."

A managing director of a local company and Anglo-Chinese School alumnus, who declined to be named, admits that candidates from his school already have an edge over others even before they prove themselves worthy of the job.

Mr Heng also says that while it is good to prepare for an interview, overperformance is definitely not a good thing.

"Research, prepare for every conceivable question that may be asked during the interview. However, resist the urge of trying to overimpress the interviewer."

This includes, for example, memorising some of the financial numbers found on the website and bringing them up during question time with the intention to impress, says Mr Heng.

The important thing to remember is to be prepared and yet be your natural self, he says.

"Otherwise, you will come across as artificial, rehearsed and not genuine."

Mr Heng also advises interviewees to play the mind game of suggestive positioning by asking questions like: "As one of your team members, what would be the preferred mode of communication preferred by you/team members?"

"Here, you are inferring that you are already part of the team, which you are of course not," he says. "This approach can be effective in gently guiding the interviewer to see you as a favourable candidate."

However, he also advises against overusing it, as it can be "a turn-off, and potentially have interviewers think of you as being arrogant".

It is crucial to create a good impression, and that does not start in the interview room. Experts have said that it starts the minute you step into the office and see the receptionist.

And ensure that you have done enough research to show that you are interested in the company and the job, and not just a job.

Mr Daniel Soh, managing partner at executive search company Leadership Advisory, says many people make the mistake of approaching an interview in a very defensive manner.

It is like one-way traffic, whereby the interviewer will ask the questions and the interviewee just answers them, he says.

This would put many interviewees in a nervous state, and may sometimes result in being projected as too nice or a "yes man" at the interview, says Mr Soh.

His advice is to engage the interviewer.

"I always advise my C-suite candidates to approach interviews as a form of business discussion with peers, rather than from the angle of an interrogation.

"With that mindset, both parties are technically on a par."

After all, the interview process is basically a chance for a potential employer or hiring manager to know you, and for you to know your potential bosses and company better, he says.

Also, be prepared to question or even challenge, he adds.

Ask the interviewers what they think of your answer or how they would approach the same issue, he suggests. If you do not agree with what they say, explain why.

"If it makes sense to them, great. If it doesn't, at least they know you have your own point of view," says Mr Soh. "At the end of the day, interviewers not only want to ensure that you have the right experience, but they also hope to understand what's driving you, what are your passions, and what are your aspirations."