If You’re Talking, You’re Interviewing

Posted by Nancy Gober

Lasting First ImpressionIf you’re talking, you’re interviewing. Treat every conversation, and the information you reveal, as if it’s an interview. It’s an important concept to grasp if you want to be successful more quickly in your search for a new cleared job.

  • Be cautious. This is not the time for tell-all conversations with strangers about yourself or your work:  You never know who knows who, who’s related to who, who went to school with who, and especially who worked together with who.  Candidates forget that people who work in the same field, profession, etc. tend to know each other.  And, very importantly, always, always keep in mind operational security.
  • Be strategic. Think about how you position your current situation and keep it positive. I’ve even seen job seekers write negative statements on their resume about a previous employer. Skip the negative comments in conversation as well. Don’t bemoan your fate or make snide comments about others who have not helped you. It frames you, not the person or organization you’re referencing, in a bad light.
  • Be prepared. Develop a sales mindset, and carry your tools of the trade. Don’t leave home without business cards to hand out to folks you meet in chance encounters as well as planned meetings. Carry your resume in case a hard-copy is needed on-the-spot. And carry your phone as well. You’re in a job search and you need to be available and responsive.

You Have Only One First Impression

A first impression is a lasting impression, if not a last impression.

What we’re talking about is creating a positive and lasting impression. The goal is that whomever you cross paths with will remember you in a positive way should they hear of a career opportunity that you might fit and fill. What you say, and the attitude you display, will rule you in or out in their minds.

So, whether you are networking, engaging in a formal interview with a prospective employer, or just meeting up with a group of folks at a casual event, remember, if you are talking, you are interviewing.

Recruiters Share the Importance of Attitude

At the most recent Cleared Job Fair we asked recruiters how important attitude and first impressions are to them. It’s a bit of a loaded question, so of course they felt that attitude was important. But the recruiters’ responses were insightful and point out the importance of attitude and culture fit, particularly for defense and intel contractors. Some of the recruiters’ comments:

If I like you I may write a note on the resume I send to the hiring manager that you were professional or had a good attitude. That makes you stand out when I send a stack of resumes to a hiring manager.

A job seeker was rude and dismissive of me today. Our company has a collegial atmosphere so it’s important to determine whether or not a job seeker will fit in with our culture. We’re not looking for rude people.

On a scale of 1-10, I’d say attitude is an 11.

Attitude is important because recruiting and job search are a two-way street. We have to cooperate with each other to move the process forward.

In a non-job fair situation if I’m approaching a passive candidate, I’m hunting them down. In that case I’m not surprised if a job seeker isn’t initially receptive to my inquiry. But if you walk up to me at a job fair you’re selling yourself to me. You need to have the attitude to match that.

Cleared job seekers have to realize that an interview starts now. If you are rude or have a bad attitude I’m not going to send you on to a hiring manager. Why would I?

A job seeker just argued with me about who holds her clearance and she was very testy. She’s a well-qualified cleared professional, but I’m not sending her resume on to anyone at my company.

Any interaction you have with a potential employer is an interview, so always be on top of your game. Present well, have a good attitude and sell yourself.


  • Nancy Gober

    Nancy Gober is a career strategist who has helped thousands of job seekers find employment, and the author of “Jobs Are Not Found Sitting at the Computer.” You may reach Nancy via email at [email protected].

This entry was posted on Monday, June 23, 2014 7:00 am

3 thoughts on “If You’re Talking, You’re Interviewing”

  1. This goes both ways. As a job seeker, recruiters please don’t spend 10 – 15 minutes talking to me and telling me what a good fit I am for your company and your opportunities – and then vanish when I try to follow up with you.

  2. Sharon, very valid point – if only more recruiters would be so open and responsive.
    We know they are busy but they should at least do a courtesy email (or phone call).
    Candidates as well, should be courteous and responsive in their engagements.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of updates to this conversation