I try very hard to assist candidates in understanding that the first round interview’s agenda is 95% driven by the company. You are invariably one of several candidates they are evaluating, and your #1 and only goal at this stage of the interviewing process is to get invited back for a 2nd round, or to continue the “next stage” of their process.
As you are selling yourself, the most important and powerful information you can gather, is what specific information are they using to favorably evaluate you. After the first impressions and pleasantries of small-talk, you must casually ask “From your perspective what are the most important things you are looking for in filling this position?” – or something similar. By asking this question, you receive the target to aim for. For example as a J2EE software engineer in Cambridge, you may ask this question and find out – “We are weak on the server team, and need someone who understands how to write complex core Java via JDBC and has extensive architecture skills.” With that target in mind at all times, you can highlight, focus and describe specific projects and work YOU have architected and developed that fit that criteria. Or, perhaps their answer is “We are most concerned with finding someone who is very self-driven and independent.” It would be a huge blunder to only talk about your team-work and how you worked collaboratively with others, if that is their #1 criteria. Ask the most powerful question and you’ll be thinking like a headhunter!