Do you know when a job interview has begun? The first question right? Wrong. The elevator. Waiting in reception. The small stalk on the way to the interview room. That is when a job interview begins. The same can be said for a business meeting or a sales call.

In fact, you need to start aligning your actions to your personal brand before you even hit the building where your meeting will take place. Snatching that last minute cigarette? Chances are, you will be bringing that smoke with you to the meeting on your clothes – or at least the stale after smell. That person you held the elevator door for? She just happens to be the PA to the person you are meeting. That louder than necessary “domestic” you had on your mobile? The receptionist did hear you and she did just happened to relay your side of the conversation later in the office kitchen to the person you interviewed with.

I know a lot of my posts seemed to be modern day cautionary tales but as a keen observer of human behavior and someone in constant conversation with others about what impresses and distresses, I am just calling it as I see it – and hear it.

All the scenarios above really did happen and formed part of someone’s decision to hire or do business with someone else.

Given the effort most people put into their job interview preparation or sales presentation, it is crucial that we back ourselves all the way. That includes the walk up to the entrance of the building as well as that first hand shake and the meeting itself.


Kate Southam has been giving people advice on careers for 13 years. She has been the editor of a career website, author of a syndicated newspaper column and remains a regular blogger. She also continues to coach individuals as well as provide commentary on careers and workplace issues to TV, radio and magazines. Kate is also a communications consultant advising businesses. Follow Kate on Twitter @KateSoutham