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These Job Interview Tips from a Coach Can Make Your Resume Irrelevant

by | Jun 12, 2023 | Startups

Most career advice is generic trash.

About two years ago I came across Steve Adcock online. He gave a different kind of career advice.

He told people NOT to quit their job.

In fact, he became a millionaire working a job. Now in his late 30s, he’s hired hundreds of people and does career coaching among other things.

I’m not a huge fan of working a job long term and disagree with Steve somewhat on that, but a job is a great way to get started in life. We all got to start somewhere, right? A job is free education, as they say.

He says “in a job interview I made my decision within the first 5 minutes.”

These are the best job interview tips I’ve got from him and others that’ll make your resume irrelevant.

The job interview process starts before a job ad

Wait, what?

Career coach Austin Belcak reminded me of this. People spend too much time on job interviews and job ads and not enough on what Austin says is responsible for 65% of job search success:

35% — Cultivating existing relationships
30% — Creating new connections

Who you know in business will always get you further than any job interview performance ever will.


People prefer to hire people they trust. If they’ve had interactions with you before or you’ve been referred, you go to the front of the queue (even in front of the people with degrees and MBAs who think they’re special).

Action: 1) get good at LinkedIn 2) reach out to people you’ve worked with before and start conversations.

A clever trick some companies use to screen you out

Okay, let’s get to the hardcore job interview tricks.

Tony Hsieh was the founder of shoe company Zappos. He made headlines when it came out he would pay job candidates $2000 not to take the job.

It was a small price to pay for him to get rid of duds.

What he did, which many companies copied, is he’d fly out candidates to their HQ. His company would arrange for a private driver to pick you up from the airport. You’d then spend a day interviewing at Zappos.

When the day wrapped up the recruiter would speak with the driver and find out how you treated them. If you spoke rudely to them you didn’t progress, no matter how good your resume or qualifications were.

The lesson here is how you treat service workers says a lot about you. So always be nice to everyone and treat them how you want to be treated.

In 2019 when I went on the job interview circus roadshow, I made it a habit to connect with the receptionists in a genuine way.

By the time the recruiter was ready to see me, I’d have the receptionist and admin team laughing and smiling. I got told later this is why I got certain big-ticket job offers.

Get your dog to check how you smell

Years ago I went on a date with a beautiful woman.

She was a goddess of the human jungle and I was to be her Tarzan king. We were a perfect fit in every way. She even had an online business.

We went on our first official date and I thought it went well. At the end she said she didn’t want to do any more dates. I had no idea why.

I later found out it was because I didn’t smell good. The shirt I wore that night had been worn a few days before and smelt like sweat and a single man who’d had too much sex. Oopsie.

The same applies to interviews. Make sure you shower and wear fresh clothes. And clean off all the dog and cat hair from what you’re wearing.

Nobody wants to hire a smelly person.

Take notes like a scientific researcher

Getting an interesting job is about looking interested.

I never go to a job interview without with a notepad and paper tucked inside a business compendium. Those who don’t take notes look lazy.


An interview is a two-way street.

You’re there to interview THEM as much as they are there to interview YOU. This is a big career decision. You want to make the right one and do your research.

Smile brighter than Beyonce

Many people can be petrified in job interviews.

As someone who’s been a leader and had to hire many people, I’ve seen it plenty. No one wants to hire someone who looks terrified.

How do I know?

Back in 2014 I went through many job interviews. One interviewer told me I didn’t get the job because my hands were shaking, I was sweating all over, and looked like poop could come out at any moment. He wasn’t wrong.

Would you hire someone like that?

You look like a person with something to hide. Or like you’ve committed a huge crime. It makes sense.

So smile. Act like you want to be there.

Pro tip: treat the job interview like it doesn’t matter. Like there’s always another one — because there is.

Dress like you mean business

Here’s where this advice is counterintuitive though.

Many candidates assume they need to wear a suit. But some companies, especially tech, hate suits. Wearing a suit is an insult to them. What I learned to do was visit the HQ beforehand and get a feel for what people wore. Then I’d dial it up 1–2 notches.

When I interviewed at tech companies I’d wear my best shirt, jeans, a sophisticated watch, light brown shoes (that got a shine on the day), and do my hair nicely. I’d also get a haircut the night before.

You want the interviewer to think you look fresh without actually saying it. The people I never hired as a manager were those who couldn’t dress for the occasion.

How you dress shows effort. And effort needs to be 210%.

Memorize the job description

And bring it with you to the interview.

The job description tells you what they want and how to speak. It’s full of keywords that the SEO internet marketer in me loves. Use THEIR words.

The night before I memorize parts of the job description and have it with me in case I forget anything.

Talk about outcomes, not experience

The best job candidates have resumes and job interviews based on outcomes, not experience.

After all, as the famous quote goes: “Some people have 20 years experience, when in reality, they have 1 year’s experience repeated 20 times.”

Get off the drug of experience. No one gives a flying fudge. What outcomes did you deliver? And don’t talk about team outcomes. People want to know what YOU did. Be specific.

The best hack I learned was to talk about outcomes based on percentage terms:

  • Revenue when up by 4.6% as a result
  • Retention improved by 3.22% in 2022
  • We made 3.1 times more products after I…

Recruiters want to know if you’re a doer or a talker. The world is full of talkers and they get paid the least.

Treat it like a research project

Know what the company does and how they make money.

But the best thing you can do is learn the names of key employees who work there. And if you really want to excel then talk to those employees before the interview.

Then you can say things like “Irene that runs Customer Success at your company says retention is a real problem for you right now.”

Write a business plan with the first 90 days

This is next-level and rarely done.

The C-Suite does it, though, which is where I stole it from. Write a business plan and bring it to the interview. Explain in it what you’d do if you got the job in the first 90 days.

You don’t need to present it in the interview, but at least hand them a paper copy. It shows careful thought and makes you look like a business owner.

Ask hard questions

Ideally you’re asking questions the whole way through.

But toward the end of the interview they’ll ask if you have questions. Don’t say you have none or that they’ve miraculously answered everything.

Nonsense. They’re not a Hiring-Jesus.

Ask hard questions. My favorite one is to see if they’ll give you three references of employees who rate their company highly.

They ask you for references, why shouldn’t you?

Quiz them on the work-life balance too. Ask them about upskilling and career plans. Don’t focus on money though. This comes in the later negotiation phase after the job interview.

Be upfront about what you suck at

And don’t say something stupid like “my prior boss always said I worked too hard.” No one believes that.

One I often used to mention is my past fear of public speaking. I’d bring it up and highlight it with a story about me fainting. Then I’d tell them how I started Toastmasters to try and fix it.

We all have weaknesses — even you. Mention them.

A huge job interview trap

CEO Steve Bartlett reminded me that you need to be positive.

Experience and skills are no good if you’re a Negative Nancy. Talk about people in a positive light, even if it is a bad boss.

“We didn’t always see eye to eye but he taught me…”

If you’re negative in an interview you’ll be a Debbie Downer 6 months down the line and recruiters know it. It can destroy their company.

(This one applies to life too.)

The powerful hack to use if you get rejected

Even if you do everything right there will be many job rejections.

Often it has nothing to do with you. Maybe they had someone in mind already or the job went to an internal applicant. Or you simply got beaten by a superior man/woman.

The job interview is the start of the journey, not the end. I can’t think of a single time where I’ve rejected a candidate and had them come back to me afterward.

It’s the same as a salesperson who never follows up. No one will hire that sales guy because they don’t understand rejection and ghosting.

Recruiter Reno Perry says to send a note to hiring managers and recruiters at the end of the job interview process to thank them and tell them you’ll stay in touch.

Then every few months you email them and update them briefly on what you’ve been doing. At the end you ask if there are any new opportunities.

This technique has worked for me many times.

Remember: Relationships over transactional job interviews.

Bringing it all together

The entire job interview process boils down to:

  1. First impressions count.
  2. Put in effort because you only get out what you put in.
  3. Be proactive.

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