'Bar Rescue' star Jon Taffer: This is the worst mistake you can make in a job interview

'Bar Rescue's' Jon Taffer: How to nail a job interview
'Bar Rescue's' Jon Taffer: How to nail a job interview

Jon Taffer, star of Paramount Network's "Bar Rescue," has hired thousands of people over his 35-year career as an entrepreneur. He has owned 17 different hospitality businesses, founded consulting firm Taffer Dynamics, and even helped create the NFL's "Sunday Ticket."

As an expert in managing people, Taffer says he doesn't look for the candidates with the most impressive resumes when he's selecting new staff.

"I'm the type of employer who will hire based on personality, based on potential," he tells CNBC Make It. "If you put the resume before the personality you're going to fail.


"The wrong personality with the greatest resume in a business will not grow that business," explains Taffer, author of "Don't Bulls--- Yourself!: Crush the Excuses That Are Holding You Back." "The right personality with a weak resume can be filled in. That's the employee who will become great."

"Bar Rescue" host Jon Taffer
David Becker | Getty Image

With that in mind, Taffer says the greatest mistake you can make is coming across as too self-serving.

"If in the first few minutes of an interview, if they land in what I call 'selfish territory' — [asking about] days off, next raise, compensation — rather than questions about the job they're supposed to be excited about, that tells me their priority isn't the excitement of the job. Their priority is their first day off," he continues. "That's not an individual that I want to hire.

"Probably 30 percent of the people that I've interviewed have [had] very short interviews because something came out of their mouth in the first three or four sentences that showed me that there was something about their personality, their approach or their priorities it didn't fit," he adds.

Instead of questions about vacation days or pay, Taffer wants to hear his employees ask things like, "Can I get a key to the office? I want to come in a little early. I like to work a little late. I like to get ahead of myself and come in before the phones start ringing."

Or, questions about "project depth and wanting more responsibility — those are great questions to ask," says Taffer.

"I don't want to hire people who have less of a commitment than I do," he says.

Taffer also pays special attention to body language.

"Certain things are red flags," says Taffer. "If they don't look in your eyes, that's a red flag completely. If they start crossing their arms when they talk to you, that's a red flag completely. I'll never hire somebody who does that."

Indeed, experts say eye contact is "important for creating a feeling of connection," according to the Harvard Business Review, and it's key for signaling confidence. Crossing your arms can give the impression you're closed off, so experts instead suggest keeping your arms and legs uncrossed and your palms open to be as persuasive as possible.

When it comes down to it, Taffer says what employers really want to hear is simple: How you can help the business succeed, and why you want to do it.

So to nail a job interview, Taffer's best advice is to use the beginning of the meeting — your only chance to make a first impression — to emphasize your dedication to the role, not your own self interests.

"Think about the first part of your interview — that's where the interviewer is going to determine what your priorities are," he says. "It has to be all about work, hours, commitment.

"Commit yourself to making that interviewer believe that you are perfect for this job — then ask those other questions."

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