The Critical First 30 Seconds of a Job Interview

cartoon gnomeHave you ever thought about what prospective employers and executive recruiters can find out about you in the first 30 seconds of meeting you? They can determine if you:

Value the Interviewer’s Time

It is common knowledge that most hiring managers are overworked. You might be one of them and understand that time is a very valuable asset when hiring new employees. When you (the job seeker) show up for an interview, it is a courtesy to your interviewer to show up 5-10 minutes early. Being a few minutes early demonstrates that you are honoring the time allotted to you for the interview, and the interviewer’s schedule. This also helps the interviewer stay on track which they appreciate.

Are You a Leader or a Follower?

Approach your interview with one thing in mind – how you can be a solution to the company’s problems. That’s why they want to hire you. Of course you want to support that focus with how productive you are, how your background and experience has prepared you for this job, and how you can handle the responsibility, and position you as the best candidate for the job.

Have Gnome Mentality

Before you dismiss this section, hear me out. The interviewer is trying to get to know you quickly and one way is to ask a couple of very casual questions such as “Did you have a hard time finding us?” and “What do you think about the weather today?”

What they can discern from your response to these questions is: if you complain about the weather or the traffic or location of the office, you may respond to other company issues in the same manner. So while these may seem like friendly get-to-know-you questions, be cognizant of your answers and how an interviewer might perceive them. They may be digging deeper than you realize.

Hijack the Interview

Do you step in the door and start pulling out your portfolio or other materials? While it is good to have materials in your possession, it may be wise to save them until it is appropriate to substantiate a key accomplishment you are talking about in your conversation.  Make sure you have extra copies of your resume in hand.

Keep in mind that with your first interview you don’t get a second chance to make the best “first” impression. Recruiters skim your resume in about 6 seconds to get an overall view of who you are and what you can do for the company. So during the first 30 seconds of an interview, they may pretty well have you summed up. Make that first impression count!


Louise Garver

Louise Garver

Louise Garver, part of ExecuNet's team of Coaches and Career Strategists, is a career industry expert for executives, has a successful 30-year history as an Executive Coach, Resume Writer, Branding and Job Search Strategist, with recruitment and corporate management experience along with 13 career-related certifications, a master's degree and post-graduate certification in career counseling. Executives work with her to capture their brand message and clearly, consistently and effectively communicate it in their career documents and communications. Louise is co-author of Win Interviews! The New Must-Have Game Plan and her work is featured in over 20 career publications.

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