How to Survive the First 10 Seconds of a Job Interview - Understanding the Caveman Brain

Alon Shwartz CTO and Co-Founder of Docstoc ( ) talks about understanding the "caveman brain" in order to help get through the first ten seconds of a job interview. Because 90% of decisions are made in the first ten seconds, in order to put the caveman brain at ease it is important to make a strong first impression.

  1. 90% of decisions are made in the first 10 seconds
  2. The caveman brain is programmed for fight or flight
  3. A snap decision is inevitable
  4. Put the caveman brain at ease by making a strong first impression

Most people don’t understand that the first 10 seconds of the interview are the most critical. And an interview can take between 10, 30 minutes to an hour plus and you think that you have all the time in the world to impress someone and really make sure they understand you and what really, how can you really help the business and why you’re the right person, but it’s not the case. It’s not true.

The first 10 seconds for the most part is what it takes for someone to make the decision if you’re the right person or not.

Under our intelligent brain, there is what I call the caveman brain and the caveman brain is what evolved in us in the last 50 or 100,000 years to make a very quick fight or flight decisions. When you see someone you have to make a very snap decision whether this guy is a friend or a foe. Do you need to fight him or do you need to find – or run away from them?

It was never evolved to be in an office situation where you sit in front of someone wearing a suit and a tie and figuring out is he the right person for me to hire for this position. It was not. It was meant for you to make snap decisions and that’s what happens whether you like it or not, whether you’re aware of it or not.

So the most that people understand of this is they have a weird gut feeling and that’s really what it is. It is that gut feeling that we get, that is the caveman brain.

So what do you do if you’re the person who comes to the interview? You have a, you have to understand that that’s what happens. That is the ultimate decision making and it may not be fair and maybe not how it should be or politically correct but this is how it is. There’s the caveman brain that will make the decisions.

So what do you do? You talk to that caveman brain of that person who’s interviewing you. It’s how you dress. It’s how you walk. It’s how you handshake. Smile, relax. Make sure that the other person, the brain, the caveman brain think of you as a friend and not a foe.

It is what it is. I know it’s not fair, but by you understanding that that first 10 seconds is what counts, you already dramatically improve your chances of getting the job.