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Most of us just don’t love job interviews. They’re nerve racking, daunting and plain uncomfortable. Think sweaty palms, tongue tied and stomach churning. Then try and add in being someone you’re not and you have a recipe for disaster. I’m often asked at the interview coaching sessions I run about the type of person you should try and be at an interview. My answer is always the same. Be yourself. Recently I was coaching a lady who was very excited to have an interview for a job that meant a lot to her; it suited her skills and experience and was a good fit (on paper) with her why and values. During the session she shared with me how she had been told that she needed to be “more bubbly” at an interview.
People ask me all the time if they should be more of something at an interview. Should they be more outgoing or more of an extrovert, should they be more reserved or maybe more assertive. Maybe more charismatic or more friendly.
The minute you try and be something you are not, is the minute the interview derails. It is very obvious when someone is trying to be someone they are not. You are no longer genuine, you come across fake and sitting on the interviewer side of the table, I instantly start wondering if you are trying to be someone you are not; what else are you trying to hide? Are you just telling me what you think I want to hear? When I start to feel like that in an interview, it’s pretty hard to win me over and convince me that you are the best person for the job, no matter how good your acting skills are.
While the interviewer – your potential new employer, might want a particular type of person, do you really want to try and be someone you are not at an interview? What happens if you get the job? How are you going to keep up that façade? Trying to be someone you are not is exhausting. And with that being the case how long do you really think you’ll last in the job anyway?
Tackling the interview head on and simply being yourself is the best recipe for success. If the interviewer decides that you are not the right fit for the role then so be it. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.
Instead of focusing on trying to be someone you are not, focus on how you can use your broad range of skills and abilities to get the job done. What does this mean and how do you do it? Be yourself at interview but demonstrate how you can adapt in different situations. When responding to interview questions, share with them how you have been bubbly when you needed to be to connect with a particular customer. Demonstrate how you have stepped up and been more assertive than normal in situations that have required an assertive approach to get the desired outcome.
With such a focus on culture fit these days, it’s important to make sure you let a bit of your personality come through at interview; but be yourself. Don’t try and be someone you think the interviewer wants. Chances are you’ll get it wrong anyway, but trying to be someone you are not will show through and the interviewer or interview panel won’t connect with you. If you get the chance, ask the interviewer what they are looking for personal attribute wise in appointing someone to the role. Once you have this info, don’t try and take on that persona, just share with the interviewer how you have exhibited those traits at various times in previous work situations. Don’t just state you have those skills and attributes, remember to demonstrate with examples.
If interviews are something you really struggle with then preparation and practice will help. While you don’t want to pretend to be someone you are not you do want to try and feel comfortable enough to let your true self shine through. If you are overwhelmed with nervousness it’s going to be hard to do that. Preparation and practice are key to helping you feel a little more relaxed and to reduce the chances of you becoming tongue tied.
Instead of investing energy in to trying to be someone you are not, invest that energy in to being genuine, honest and letting your real skills and expertise show through. It’s a much better recipe for interview success.
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Angela Connor is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource and career coaching companies. She understands the significance of having the right team of people in a business and is passionate about helping business to attract, recruit and engage the right people so those people can inject their talents into the business; creating an environment where they can do great work and love what they do. Find more useful information and advice at www.inspirehq.com.au or by following Angela on LinkedIn.