Making your pitch at the job interview

Some people succeed at interviews for one basic reason: They click with the panel on a personal and a business level. The interview is a social interaction, whether anyone likes it or not. That interaction is crucial to all aspects of any meeting of people.

You might get lucky. You might meet interviewers you really like, who know what you're talking about, and you hit it off really well.

Most of the time, the interview is a neutral environment, schedule-driven, and occasionally hostile. The conveyor belt approach to mass interviews doesn't help much, if you don't click.

Communication is a learning process between any two people, let alone total strangers. You learn how to hear people's voices, and expression tells you a lot, good or bad, about the mindset of the people you're talking to.

The old myth about Selling Yourself couldn't be more wrong.

Your stock in trade is credibility, professional and social. You have to be seen as someone to work with. You need to be seen as a safe bet in a job.

You can't be the life of the party at an interview, and you'd be wasting your time if you tried, in most interviews. Your personality will do a lot of the work for you, for or against. The assessment people make of other people is always cumulative. The First Impression thing only goes so far, when you have to get more impressions from a series of questions.

Some people really do not hit it off, even in a neutral environment. You can take that as a cue in some interviews, where the level of silence is deadly. Don't hold these interviews against yourself when doing any assessment of your performance. That may well have been a very bad job and you can be glad you didn't get it.

Progressive sales pitch

The sales pitch starts from the beginning of the interview, as so many text books say. The difference is that it happens on a personal contact basis, not to a script. It's misleading to tell people that a nice suit, a nice smile, and total hypocrisy will get you a job.

The fact is that interviews are made of people.

That's not a formula for anything but trying to get the communication working effectively, and that's where you need to focus your effort.


  • The interviewee is a shy person, talented, but younger than the panel, and not very experienced with interviews.
  • The convener is a very busy person, and very businesslike.
  • The second in-house interviewer is a professional accountant, and
  • The third member of the panel is so nondescript the interviewee has to work to remember the name.

Does that sound like a natural mix of fluent communication, on any level?

Anything these people have in common is largely involved with the interview, not on a personal basis. There's no natural connection.

Contact has to be made. Some interviewers are good at establishing communication, others are so bad you could write books about it.

For you, as the interviewee, looking for sympathy isn't your best option.

Nor is hoping the interviewers will somehow see your natural talents despite your eloquent silence.

Many people get their message across despite interview formats, not because of them. They do this in a series of stages.