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Your first job interview part 2

first job interview

How to ace your first job interview

Getting ready for your first job interview experience?

Your first job interview experience is coming up. Don’t worry, HRN here to spit some knowledge so you know what to expect. More importantly, I am here to explain how to act so you can elevate your interview game. Last week, we started part 1 of this 2 part series. In that post, we walked through what to expect as you cross the threshold into the lobby of your new employer for your first job interview experience. Click on the link to find out why the reception person can change the outcome of your interview. Yes, interviews can be won and lost in the lobby before a single question is asked. 

Interviewer and candidate are equals

So you have been invited by Suzy Recruiter to the interview room.Walk side by side your escort. Do not follow 2 steps behind the recruiter. This is your opportunity to create some rapport with the recruiter before the interview. You are showing confidence; you are showing that you are comfortable in the situation and the two of you are equals. Just because you are a candidate you are NOT subservient. The company does NOT hold all the power. Do you ask your date to walk 2 steps behind you on your first date in silence? I hope not. When walking with friends we chit-chat as equals. Talk about the weather, the great vibe, how nice the reception person/younger sibling was. Just make sure you get a conversation going. Have a few topics ready if you need to. It is ALWAYS nice to hear how nice and helpful the reception person was, or how happy everyone looks in the office space. That may sound HRSappy, but the shit works.


“Jane at the front desk was so gracious. She offered me a cup of coffee. Please thank her for making me feel so welcome. It is a great sign that she enjoys her job. If she didn’t she wouldn’t have gone the extra mile for me”.

The above is a guaranteed way to start a conversation about the culture, the people, why she was hired, etc. In the least, it should be enough conversation to get you to Johnny Recruiters office. There is nothing like the awkward “silent (dead man walking) trip” to the interview room. (I realize that a lot of folks are thinking, “Gracious Jane? Got me coffee? Enjoys her job” lines and thinking – WTF, is HRNasty serious? Absofrickenlutely. If you don’t like it then figure something else out to say. Silence is NOT golden here. A silent walk is usually a no go, decline, go directly to jail card. A silent walk with me is an indication that you will have a silent walk with the other interviewers that I may be introducing you to including senior leaders in the department.

My reputation as your recruiter

I don’t want to put my reputation on your introverted ass and hear about a walk of silence with the hiring manager. More importantly, I don’t want to hear about a potential lack of social skills. AWKWAAARRRD. As a recruiter, I can’t defend it. I can’t make up an excuse for your silence. Literally, I got nothing!. . . You know I do not believe in humanity and am as cynical as the next guy, but the above lines work on me and I eat it up. I don’t want dead fish in this office. I want folks who will ADD to the culture. You don’t need to be a cheerleader, just don’t suck the life out of me with your silence.

If the recruiter asks you if you want anything to drink, ask for a glass of water. Declining their offer is a sign of submission. It says, “I don’t want to bother you with anything.” Remember, you and the interviewers are equals. This is not 1950 circa MadMen where you bow down and cower to authority. If you get nervous or need to stall before answering a question, you can take a sip from that glass of water. If you get nervous, SMILE.

When you sit down, notice the family pictures or art in the office. Make a comment. Keep the chitchat going for just a couple of minutes. This is a critical few minutes. This can help set the tone for the rest of the meeting. Is there chemistry or not? We have more to lose and gain in creating chemistry than the recruiter.

Opening line

This is how you can take control and I give you your opening line here. 

If the recruiter is playing the good host, they will seamlessly guide you through the process:

  • Introduce themselves, their position, and how long they worked for Acme Publishing.
  • Talk a little bit about what they like about the company and they may talk about the benefits.
  • Explain the interview process
    • They have questions for you
    • There will be time to answer your questions
    • The recruiter will be taking notes 

Then they will launch into their interview questions:

Acceptable questions to ask

Towards the end of the hour, you will be asked if you have any questions. Your answer is YES, I have questions.” Feel free to ask a few questions that do NOT revolve around pay, vacation days or benefits. To clarify, DO NOT ASK ABOUT PAY, VACATION OR BENEFITS! This isn’t about you “just yet”. At this stage in the game, this is still about “What you can do for the company?” Just like our first date with our shortie, we are not going to ask if their daddy is rich or if they have a timeshare in Hawaii. Here are a few questions you can ask

After you have asked your questions, if the recruiter doesn’t explain what the next steps are, you should take the initiative to ask about next steps. This is totally acceptable and an indication of how you will treat potential customers/will close the sale.

Lean in for the kiss

At the end of the date, before we lean in for the kiss, we tell our date “I had a great time and I want to see you again” or “ I really enjoyed our time together. When can I see you again?” We are letting our date know that we had a great time AND we want to continue the process. We don’t just walk away and hope they are reading our minds.

SMILE and repeat after me: “I am really excited about this opportunity, it sounds like a great company and I especially like that Acme Publishing does so much volunteering for the community. If I don’t hear from you within the next week, I’d love to follow-up via email.”

It will be a pretty cold recruiter that says “Don’t call us, we will call you”. If you experience this, don’t be offended. Just take it as a sign that you probably don’t want to work here and count yourself lucky. 

A smile can show grace and confidence

On your way out the door, SMILE and thank the reception person again for everything.

Just like anything done for the first time, there can be a lot of tension with your first interview experience, but remember; every recruiter wants the candidate to work out as much as you want the job. 


Good luck!


nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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