Scott Shrum makes some excellent points in his article “Not So-Common-Sense Interview Strategies” from the Wall Street Journal.

While he targets some comments to Generation-Y applicants, all interviewees can benefit from his reminders to practice, practice, practice, to prepare a short list of what you must cover in the interview, and to keep your answers succinct.  You may only have 30-45 minutes to make an impression on the interviewer, so you must use that time to ensure they know why you are the right person for the job. He summarizes:

Ideally, you will be able to strike a smart balance between having an enjoyable conversation and still maintaining the structure of the interview, making sure that your key themes are covered and that the interviewer has answered all of their questions. After all, when the interview is done, the interviewer needs to answer some questions about you, and they can’t do that if you’ve just spent 45 minutes talking about politics and football. Make it enjoyable, but remember that it’s still an interview!