The Mechanics of the Job Interview | No BS Job Search Advice Radio

EP 775 Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter takes you through what you should be doing to be ready. 

Read Full Transcript

I want to take you to the mechanics of the in person interview today from before you meet the interviewer to arriving at the building through their asking the 1st question.

60% of getting a job is already accomplished before you set foot in the door in that each of you believes that you have something of the other one wants. From there, 20% is involved with each of you convincing one another to what you been told about the other is true and the remaining 20% is purely subjective criteria. That is, are you the kind of person that can fit into their organization; do they seem like the kind of people and does it seem like the kind of job that is going to be of interest to you. Each of you needs to get an A in the course.

If you drive into the interview, give yourself some extra time to get there. There's nothing worse for you or for them than you arriving there late. Try to target get into the building about 15 minutes early. If you taking the subway or bus, or some other version of public transportation, you can take a dry run before hand. If you can't, do a dry run. Just give yourself adequate time to arrive to the building early.

If for some reason, it is extremely hot or extremely cold, I want you to take the time to warm up your hands if it's cold, or dry your hands of perspiration, dry your forehead or face of any perspiration if it's hot; there is nothing worse than shaking hands with a popsicle at the beginning of the interview or having sweaty palms when you are shaking hands with someone.

By getting there a few minutes early, it also gives you a chance to focus on what your objectives are for the interview. If the role, much as you may believe that you're going to have some great energy walk again with 1 minute to spare you are not could be as well prepared. Give yourself adequate time to get there and give yourself a few moments to prepare some of the points that you want to make again.

Let's assume that you got through security, you've gone upstairs because invariably it is an "upstairs" that you are to be interviewing in and now you're at the reception. Inevitably she will say, "So how can I help you?"

You'll say, "Hi! I have a 2:30 appointment to see someone so." They'll invite you to take a seat and maybe give you an application and you'll sit down. I want you to sit down at a point in the room facing the greatest number of entry points so that you can see someone approaching announce your name. I mentioned that because of something I saw happen years ago where I had an appointment with someone at the bank and there was someone there for an interview. It was a rainy day and they had a raincoat on, an umbrella, they were reading a copy of the New York Times. They had the raincoat folder on their lap, had a briefcase and were engrossed in their reading.

They didn't realize that the person was going to interview them was going to arrive in the reception area from the direction of your immediate right shoulder. Thus, when the person stepped out of the doorway and announce the name, I could see this person be visibly startled, have to pick up the raincoat umbrella briefcase, fold the New York Times, shake hands and they were startled so you knew that this interview wasn't going to start off well.

You have to understand that the 1st 10 minutes of an interview are the most important time because that's where each of you decides whether or not to pay attention during the remaining 30 or 40 minutes you might be talking. So it's important for you to get off to a good start.

Sit facing the greatest number of entry points to the room and thus, when someone comes out to greet you, although you may be reading, you will have adequate time to notice them (again, don't get so engrossed in the reading that you don't notice that someone is coming out to announce your name) and thus be prepared when they announce your name.

As soon as they do, walk over and give them a firm handshake and as soon as you do, immediately size them up as a person and deal with them as you presuppose them to be. Are they smart or not. Are they aggressive or not. What are they like as a personality. Do they seem like a friendly individual? Are they out type person? Are there aggressive person? What kind of individual are they? As I said, deal with them as you presuppose them to be.

Most people make the mistake of thinking that they can feel out the interviewer in the 1st few minutes. If you do that, unfortunately you're going to be paralyzing your personality while you feel out the interviewer. The mistake here, as I said, each of you decides within the 1st 10 minutes whether or not to pay attention to the remainder of the time. By hiding your personality, there is nothing for them to like. You want them to like you as a person.

As I mentioned earlier, the hardest part of getting a job is accomplished before you arrived. They are going to be making a snap decision about you just as you are going to be making about them. As I said, I want to encourage you to decide what this person is like as soon as you meet them. If the role, if you are in a social situation and you met some of the 1st time, 95% of the time your instincts about that person are going to be right.

Unfortunately, because it's an interview and you think it is important it is about a job in your career you really need or want this job, most people paralyze their personality behind it. I want you to trust your judgment. If the role, if you are at a casino in knew that you would win at craps 95 times out of 100, you wouldn't really worry about the 5% were you lost. If anything, you might get happy and excited. I'm going to encourage you to do the same thing. Size them up as a personality and deal with them as you presuppose them to be.

There going to escort you into an interview area or office; they may sit behind a desk with you on the other side, seated in a chair. Male or female, I want you to sit there comfortably with your arms on the armrests cross your legs in a position that is comfortable for you and before they say anything, before they have a chance to answer your 1st question, when I want to do is say this to them, "Thank you for taking the time to see me today."

If you were referred by a recruiter, you might continue by saying, "I spoke with, Jeff Altman about this role and he gave me a brief description but I want to get your take on the job. Could you tell me about the role as you see it and what I could do to help?"

If you are referred by a friend or you answered and ad, if it is a friend, you mentioned their name. If you saw an ad, you might start by saying, "I remember the position description I saw advertised and it seemed interesting, but I want to get your take on the role. Would you tell me about the position as you see it and what I can do to help?"

The reason I suggest this is very simple. Most of the time, it interview is like a karate match. They ask you a question in your reply. They start by saying, "Tell me about yourself," you do that. They going to more depth and you answer. Eventually, they get to the point where they ask whether you have any questions for them. You say, "Tell me about the job." They do that. You say, "It sounds great." And they tell you, "Terrific. We'll get back to you."

By asking the question at the beginning, you are getting information about the job at the beginning of the interview where you can use it to your advantage. I say use it because I want you to answer questions based upon what they tell you. I don't want to just talk about what you've done; I want to talk about what you've done in the context of what they are looking for.

Instead of droning on and on about things they don't care about, I want you to focus in like a laser on the points that matter.

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves life coaching, as well as executive job search coaching and business life coaching. He is the host of “Job Search Radio” and “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” both available through iTunes and Stitcher.

Are you interested in executive job search coaching, leadership coaching or life coaching from me?  Email me at and put the word, “Coaching” in the subject line.

Do you have a question you would like me to answer? Pay $25 via PayPal to offers great advice for job hunters—videos, my books and guides to job hunting, podcasts, articles, PLUS a community for you to ask questions of PLUS the ability to ask me questions where I function as your ally with no conflict of interest answering your questions.  

Connect with me on LinkedIn. Like me on Facebook.

You can order a copy of “Diagnosing Your Job Search Problems” for Kindle for $.99 and receive free Kindle versions of “No BS Resume Advice” and “Interview Preparation.”

Don’t forget to give the show 5 stars and a good review in iTunes

About the author

Leave a Comment, Thought, Opinion. Speak like you're speaking with someone you love.

%d bloggers like this: