Why Interviews are just like Texas Hold-em Poker!!!

Why Interviews are just like Texas Hold ‘em! Learn how to win with a bit of luck & lots of skill…

Before we get started, let me tell you what you will need:

52-Card Deck(Hopefully, you are more than a 1 trick pony. To stack the deck in your favor: conduct extensive research on the companies’ mission, history, vision, LinkedIn contacts & prior informational interviews with their staff, a prepared list of accomplishments which highlight your strengths using the STAR system of interview answers: listing the situation, task , action & results which you have achieved on the job)

Chips & lots of them (an expensive suit, good grooming, shined shoes). Research shows that men ‘score’ extra credibility points for being tall & women ‘score’ extra credibility points for being attractive. As superficial as it sounds, appearance counts. Do what you can.

2-20 Players (imagine you are in the World Series of Poker, you may have 2 serious competitors, or 20. Don’t worry about this, be confident & project your strength)

A dealer button (If you have an inside connection in the company, a friend or relative…they may help “reshuffle the deck for you” &/or give you more favorable odds of winning the job)

In Texas Hold ‘em Poker, the two players to the left of the dealer put out blind bets. The other “players” are your competition, & they plan to win. Every player must bet (either a small or a big blind). This is necessary in order to raise the stakes of the game or interview…

Here is what the employer wants:

1) To learn if you are the right person for the job.

2) To assess your potential for promotion, in the future

3) To decide whether you will fit into the company environment. Note: there will be many more competitors than would fit around an average poker table. You do not know what the other candidates are ‘bringing to the table’ or who is ‘bluffing.’ It is a combination of luck & skill. All you can do is work with the cards you have been dealt.

1. Every player is dealt two cards, face down. These are called hole or pocket cards. In an interview, your two cards are your education & past experience. Hopefully, they are good cards, reliable cards & versatile cards. Leverage your skills & experience by providing examples of how you either made your past employer money or saved them money. Show the Return on Investment, if you were hired.

2. The action or the first move, falls on the player to the left of the big blind. They can either call the bet, raise it, or fold. The action of play moves around the table until it’s your turn. During interviews, you hold your cards, close to the chest or only put your “best skills” on the table. You hope these skills will be enough to win the “first round” of interviewing. Both the candidate & the employer, can “call, bet, raise of fold/withdraw from the interview competition.

These are the most common interview questions or “the action”
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Describe your current / most recent position.
What made you want to make this change?
What do you most enjoy doing in your current /most recent position?
Describe your future ambitions. How would you describe yourself?
Betting continues around the table, clockwise. Each candidate competing for the job, is “betting on their odds.” Hopefully, you will be able to keep “raising the stakes” & keep showing that you have additional “bets” or skills to offer the employer.

3. After the betting is completed, three cards are dealt face up in the center of the table, are referred to as the “flop.” Often during the interviews, the employer will highlight the key features of the job. If you listen carefully, you will remember these “cards” & describe how you can fulfill these job requirements.

These cards are “community cards” meaning everyone can (and will) use them in combination with their own hole cards to make the best hand. By the second round of interviews, all the players will have similar education & experience levels, & will all know the community cards or “what the employer wants.” To be strategic, you have to “add to the hand” & convince the employer that you can bring something extra to the table. This is what will give you an edge in the interview game.

4. From the flop on, betting begins with the player to the dealer’s left, who can check or bet. When the employer has narrowed down the interview pool to the best applicants, he/she can “check” the candidates references, credit history etc… or just “bet” on who he/she thinks will be the “winner” for the job. Make sure that your references can describe you in glowing terms. This could make or break your ability to get the job. If the employer checks, & the reference are bad, then game over.

5.Future cards, are like trick questions which could be asked in the interview. There are always forks A fourth card is dealt face up onto the board. This is called fourth street or the turn card. Expect the unexpected

6. Another round of betting. The candidates place bets, & hope their luck holds. Be prepared to: answer interview questions Be prepared: To ask questions Be prepared: To research the company Be prepared: To look the part Be prepared: To turn up on time

7. The final card is dealt face up. This card is also called fifth street or the river. Sink or swim, your last chance. You give your final sales pitch of the interview. Look the employer in the eye, shake their hand, exchange business cards & say “I could love to work in your company, would be a great fit with your team & could begin right away.”

8. A final round of betting occurs. The remaining players show their cards and the person who can make the best five card hand by combining their pocket cards with the cards on the board wins. The final round of interviews occurs, the hiring committee each bets on or backs their favorite candidate. The Hiring Committee asks the players/candidates, “Do you have any questions? Do you have anything else you would like to tell us, about your candidacy?” Players/interviewees, stay calm, paste on a version of your poker face, but with a grin attached. Stay positive.

Additional Tips:

1. Make sure you learn the best starting hands in Texas Hold-Em Poker, & the worst starting hands to play. Learn Job Search skills from a Career Expert, don’t enter the game, as an unprepared novice. Skills are as important as luck.

2. Once you’ve got the basics of how to play, make sure to understand your position at the table can help or hurt you. Do a SWOT analysis. A SWOT analysis involves taking a personal survey about your strengths, weakness’, opportunities & threats from other candidates

3. It’s always a good idea to follow good poker Etiquette. Be prepared, research the employer, dress professionally, arrive on time.

4. Practice reading the board and which hand beats which in Texas Hold ‘em. Realize that on any given day, another player, may rise up & win. Know what the
stakes are, & what the employer really wants in a candidate. Show in detail why you are the best match for the job. Know what the “winning hand” is.

And now you know how to interview and all the basic Texas Hold ‘em rules!


© 2009 – All Rights Reserved – Sharon Cohen, MA,CPRP, Global MBA Career Advisor at Robinson College of Business in Georgia State University. Career Management Consultant in Private Practice.

Upcoming Atlanta Workshop on “Accessing the Hidden Job Market” http://www.refocusoncareers.com/GEORGIA.htm#Cohen

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