Job Interview? Template to nail your first answer

 In Environment, Job Interview

A few weeks back I was having a coffee with a former 1:1 executive coaching client of mine. This man had recently landed a job at a new corporation. He shared with me that at his job interview for the new position, he had remembered to use an Open -Middle – Close speaking structure (that I had coached him on) to answer the first interview question.

His answer had been well received by the interview panel.

So what is the Open-Middle-Close speaking structure and why is it so important?

Here’s the description of the structure.

Open-Middle-Close is the deep structure for any type of interaction, meeting or presentation. Keeping this structure mind can help you speak concise messages and help you avoid verbosity. One of my clients described the structure as ‘rambling-prevention insurance’.

Here are sample words, syntax, and pause gaps (that you can adapt) in using the structure, to answer a common, first question at a job interview.


‘Tell us why you’re right for this position? (this question or a variation of it will often be the first question you’ll get from an interviewer)


(P-A-U-S-E.) **


“Let me tell you why I’m best person for this role”



“Number One . . . I have deep experience in all aspects of xyz. . . .Number Two. . . . In my last role, in less than 90 days, I took a group of under-performing software engineers that were missing 75% of their release dates – to 98% on-time releases and an ICSM score of 96.

and Number Three. . . I was chosen to lead an inaugural, highly successful start-up incubator on PQR . . . let me elaborate briefly on the PQR project.”

(The person would then briefly flesh out the PQR project)



“So that’s why I’m the right person for this role, because of One: deep experience, Two: team turn-around capability and Three: a proven leader and top performer on innovation projects”.

**(There is a concept I’ve entitled ‘Presenters/speakers misperception of time’. This concept refers to, how time, from the speaker’s vantage point, seems to pass more quickly than from the audience’s vantage point.

That’s why you need to pause longer than you think necessary before the ‘Open’, between the ‘Open’ and ‘Middle’ and between the ‘Middle’ and ‘Close’.

In addition, field research with my clients has revealed that having the ‘Close’ or as one client put it, ‘landing pad’ in mind at the Open stage, can sharpen your delivery.)

How well you answer the first question at a job interview will play a large part in whether you’ll land the role, or not. Interviewers will confidently assert that they consider a candidate’s entire performance in an Interview in making a hiring decision.

In reality, especially when a number of candidates are being considered – the interview panel will make the hiring decision based on:

1. Your facial expression upon first seeing you.

2. How well you comport yourself in the first 75 seconds after greeting.

3. Your answer to the first interview question.

If you don’t ‘nail’ those three areas, you’re giving your competitor’s an edge. Nail them – and all things being equal – you’ll win the position.

Your CALL to action/HOW to apply for this post: Within the next seven days, choose a meeting or interaction to intentionally practice the Open-Middle-Close structure, to in effect help you start ‘grooving’ the structure in your brain – so it will serve you at your next job interview. Reflect on the impact of doing so.

p.s. Here is link to a prior post on Job Interviews that might interest you.

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  • Nail Games

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