Why Your Mindset Matters For A First Interview

The best mindset you need for your first interview.

One of the things that I am continually asked is, “What is the right mindset for that first interview?”  Everyone knows that mindset is the key to what behaviors you display. Like the saying “As you think, so you are.”  So, what is the mindset for that first interview?  Most people, if not all, have the wrong mindset when they have that first interview. I am here to suggest to you the right mental mindset.

You Must Learn To Know

Without coaching, most people go into the interview with the thought, “Is this a firm I want to move to?”  The problem is that when you are thinking like that, you are not putting your best foot forward.  You are in essence concentrating on the wrong part of the interview equation.  You should be thinking, “Do I want to learn more?” It should not be, “Do I want to move to this firm?”  When you are thinking, “This is a firm that I want to learn more about,” puts you in control of the interview process.  Bankers are used to doing due diligence in all of their offerings, now you need to take that process into your first interview.  By thinking, “Is this a firm I want to learn more about?” you are going to be much more open in your thoughts and your actions.  You are going to be more keenly learning and probing than trying to sell yourself.  When a candidate goes into a selling mode, they tend to miss key points; but when they are in a due diligence mode and questioning everything, they are much more in control. Listening more in that first interview is so much more crucial in our opportunistic environment.  The same can be said for the traditional job order process. The traditional job order process differs from an opportunistic environment because it’s a position that does exist without us creating one specifically for you where you are able to craft your answers with more ease.  Hiring managers have said to me the candidate was very much in control of the interview and was extremely comfortable with the interview. 

Comfortable And In Control For That First Interview

Why?  Because the emphasis was not on, “Is this the firm I want to move to?” Most candidates who decide they are going to make a move know this is a process. However, sometimes they tend to forget this and want to jump to the end question of “Do I want to move to this firm?” – especially at the beginning of the interview process.  When preparing for the first interview, do your research so you will be able to interview them and not just be interviewed by them.  Managers want candidates who are fully engaged in the process. Not selling. They prefer candidates asking questions and in this case, backing up their answers with hard-core examples.  Let the process unveil itself in its proper timing and sequence.  By forcing the process – it is likely that you will not get to the end game: the offer.  Enjoy the interviews and it will translate to a relaxed situation where the candidate and the company will come together in due time.


You don’t need a resume to chat with us! If you would like to discuss your options, please reach out for a confidential conversation at 760-477-1284 or email at [email protected]. He can also be reached on LinkedIn. Harlan publishes a blog every Thursday here. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter here, which is a compilation of our weekly blogs, so you never miss one. You can find our listing in the “supplier and services” section of the Red Book under the title of “executive recruiting.”

About Harlan Friedman, JD & Founding Member, H. Friedman Search LLC. Harlan is a thirty-year veteran Public Finance Banker turned recruiter who specializes in the placement of all levels Public Finance Bankers, Healthcare Bankers, Municipal Advisors, Compliance Officers, Issuers, and Bond Counsels.