Why The First 10 Minutes of Your Interview Can Make Or Break
You And How You Can Prepare
By Joe Turner, Career Coach
You've heard it said often: "First impressions are the
When it comes to the job interview, here's recent proof that
bears this out: "Hiring managers often know whether they might hire
someone soon after the opening handshake and small talk," a new
survey suggests. Executives polled said it takes them just 10
minutes to form an opinion of job seekers, despite meeting with
staff-level applicants for 55 minutes and management-level
candidates for 86 minutes, on average. Executives were asked, "How
long does it typically take you to form either a positive or
negative opinion of a job candidate during an initial interview?"
The mean response was 10 minutes.*
This came from a survey published April 12, 2007, and developed
by Robert Half Finance & Accounting, the largest specialized
financial recruitment service in the world. It included responses
from 150 senior executives with Fortune 1000 companies.
So what does this mean for you as you approach job
Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International, sums
it up when he says, "The interview begins the moment job seekers
arrive, so applicants need to project enthusiasm and confidence
from the start. The opening minutes of the conversation often set
the tone for the rest of the discussion, making it wise to prepare
especially well for the first few interview questions."
Here's how to make the first 10 minutes of your interview work
in your favor:
1. Know the four most important
Pay close attention to those four most important questions they
want answers to:
- 1. Why are you here?
- 2. What can you do for us?
- 3. Will you fit in? (Will you get along with our values and
- 4. What makes you different from everyone else that we may have
talked with? (Will you go that extra mile?)
Rehearse your answers with your own personal "stories." These
are short narratives describing times when you overcame a crisis,
led a team, met a deadline, resurrected a failed project, etc.
Some common questions you'll often encounter at the beginning of
"Tell me a little about yourself." (Question #2: "What can you do
"What do you know about us?" (Question #1: "Why are you
"Why are you here today?" (Same)
"Why are you looking to change jobs?" (Question#2: "What can you
do for us?")
"What's your most important accomplishment to date?" (Same)
Why should we hire you (over everyone else we've seen)? (Question
#4: "Will you go the extra mile?")
2. Know the company.
Do your homework. Always research the company before you interview.
Know who they are, what they do, what their major products and
services are, who their competitors are and the current "buzz"
The first few minutes of the interview are the time to flatter
them. Remember the question, "Why are you here?" Show them that
you've done your research and not only know something about their
company, but also have several reasons for being enthusiastic about
working for them. Let this enthusiasm carry over into your demeanor
as you walk in the door.
3. Know your role
First impressions count for a lot, especially in the job interview.
You're on stage from the minute you enter the room. So play your
role by first getting into character:
The "character" you play is that of a problem solver, not a job
As a problem solver, you know why you are here, you're excited
about this company, and you know you can help them achieve their
goals. With this kind of ammunition, you can score direct hits on
their opening questions and win big points for yourself by
demonstrating you are both knowledgeable and excited about their
opportunity. Now have a killer interview!
As a recruiter, Joe Turner has spent the past 15 years
finding and placing top candidates in some of the best jobs of
their careers. Author of "Job Search Secrets Unlocked," Turner has
been interviewed on radio talk shows and offers free insider job
search secrets at: http://www.jobchangesecrets.com.