Interview Technique: How to change the dynamic in the room

Sir David Frost Dies - pictured with President Richard Nixon
I first posted this article back in October 2011 and republish it today in memory and as a tribute to the man who inspired it, Sir David Frost who has sadly passed away. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the story of Frost vs Nixon then I would suggest you look it up as it is a great example of firstly journalism at its very best, but also provides a clear example of how you change the dynamic in an interview. See below for references and the original post

Quite a few years ago, when I worked for Shanks Waste Management, during this tenure I was lucky enough to meet a gentleman called Huw. He was a trainer from an external resource called STC, probably one of the best external agencies that I have had access to. One training seminar always stands out for me as a pivotal moment of common sense from this time:

A word of caution before reading on, this only my experience and I would only use it in a situation that “felt right”. I know that is a subjective statement, but we all know, there is a time and place for everything.

How to change the dynamic:

The tutorial was actually based on sales, and how to influence the outcome by taking the initiative but I have used in the past to change the feel of an interview, get to the core of what is required and lay the foundation for a win. It can work for interviewers and interviewees. You must remember to move quickly, decisively and be professional. If you strugle with conversation do not read any further. Seriously.


Let the interviewer begin. They will usually start with thanks for coming, how are you etc. You could let them start the process of asking questions just to place them in their comfort zone. Then, at the opportune moment ask if it is possible to pause for a moment so that you can chat about, whether you get along (crucially appropriate if the person is going to be your manager or director), why they joined the company and why you should and should not join the company. The last part is critical. If they turn beige or pink then this is probably not the person you want to be working for. If, as in most cases, they sit back in the chair and ask you to explain or carry on, a CONVERSATION will begin. The astute amongst you can now guide the conversation in whichever direction you choose but always look to finish, say thank you and ask to resume the interview. You now have completely lightened the room and the interview will seem natural and easy for both of you.

Why does it work?

People like people. Moreover, people like people that can offer a new approach or a different dynamic. And, using this technique will create a bond that could just be the deal clincher.


Use the same approach but after the initial formality, put the pen and pad down and say that you would like to get to know the person and the interview structure as it stands does not allow for it (a white lie as this is the interview). Obviously only employ the technique for candidates that have a chance of winning the role.

Be bold and change.
(If you would like help with interview preparation then visit our coaching page here)

2 Responses to Interview Technique: How to change the dynamic in the room

  • I just wonder why Richard Nixon is on the top image. Kinda ironic you know. But anyways, what you’ve said is really true and effective in making a positive pitch for an interviewee to be hired.

  • Paul

    Not so much ironic as deliberate. If you know the story of how the Frost/Nixon interview turned into Frost having to change his approach with Nixon then you will understand why I chose the image. If you have not seen the film version of events then I would recommend that you check it out as it is excellent.

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