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The Difference Maker

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Ep 671 Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter discusses a big  difference maker when companies make a decision about one person over another.


I want to give you 1 of the most important tips I can offer about interviewing. This tip is going to be helpful to you during your salary negotiations as well. Let me give you an illustration.

You're in a situation where there are 2 people who you don't know all that well; maybe you spoken with them for about 5 minutes in total and you have to choose which one to talk to. Which one do you walk over to continue the conversation with. Which one do you walk over to and start a conversation with given that you've only given that you've only spoken to each of them for 5 minutes?

The answer is the one that you like more.

Likability is 1 of those things the politicians know about. Often, voters vote for the politician they like the most, rather than the one that they think will do the job best. When my classic examples is, if you look at a number of recent American presidents (list some of them aren't all that recent), you have Ronald Reagan (a lot of people adored him), Bill Clinton (same thing), Barack Obama. This isn't about politics. This is just about likability.

For the longest time, Pres. Obama – – people didn't like his policies, but they really liked him. Bill Clinton had a lot of challenges during his time in office, but they liked him. Ronald Reagan – – same thing.

The whole thing boiled down to people were willing to forgive their mistakes if they like them. That is a lesson to take in interviewing. When the firm has a choice between a number of very capable people (most people go there to meet with her to be very capable of doing the job), what is a choose one over the other? Part of that is branding; that is the belief that the firm will have that this person is superior individual.

Another factor, a huge factor is likability. Fit. Stuff along those lines. I'm not a big fan of "fit." I am a big fan of understanding likability.

You need to understand how you are when you are at your most likable. If this is not part of your vocabulary, if this is not part of the thought process, you are making both the strategic and tactical mistake. Let me explain.

At the end of the day, firms interview a bunch of people. They see people who have skills. They are competent.. If you needed purely to objective criteria to allow yourself to be evaluated, well, it is a coin toss.

What is going to differentiate you as a candidate is going to be your personality and letting that out. You may say to me that my personality is that I am a "dead fish." I'm so I'm someone who has no personality. I am all business. It should matter to them. But it does matter. What you're doing is cutting off your arm at the wrist and allowing yourself to be evaluated purely for objective reasons. You are going to lose more than you are going to win.

It is going to interfere with your advancement. Whatever firm you join. How is that? There's gonna be times when the going to have to make a choice at the time of promotion. As talented as you may be, the person will be competing with is also going to be talented and is just going to be more likable.

Don't sell yourself short. Start working on your personality from a business standpoint because it will help you from a loop for a long time to come.


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves life coaching, as well as executive job search coaching and business life coaching. He is the host of “Job Search Radio,” “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice.”

Are you interested in 1:1 coaching or interview coaching from me?  Email me at and put the word, “Coaching” in the subject line. offers great advice for job hunters—videos, my books and guides to job hunting, podcasts, articles, PLUS a community for you to ask questions of PLUS the ability to ask me questions where I function as your ally with no conflict of interest answering your questions.  

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