"Every problem is a gift. Without problems, we would not grow."
Anthony robbins

The Power of Authenticity in an Interview

Yes, job interviews can be superficial. Yes, we must put on our “game-face” to make the best impression. Yes, there are times that we are in interview mode, rather than our casual everyday reality.

That said, there is a healthy balance between professionalism and being your authentic self. There is a power to honest communication... even in job interviews. In truth, it can be quite refreshing! Authenticity can actually make you a more memorable candidate… in a POSITIVE WAY.

Avoid these watch-outs … and steer the conversation to make yourself shine!

  • Too Generic – Some candidates are so worried about saying the wrong thing that they end up saying nothing at all. A person that is too careful can end up sounding boring. For instance, when asked about their strengths, they might simply say “I am good with people” or “I am a hard worker”. While these are nice attributes, they sound generic and have become rather trite. These blanket statements should be accompanied with a story or personal example that makes them more memorable.

People remember actual stories more than just basic adjectives or phrases. An interesting story about building a relationship with a tough customer or doing something original to close a deal will leave a much more lasting impression after the interview is over.

  • Evasive – There are times in all of our careers where something happened that didn’t go our way. A layoff, a poor career choice, or a personal situation that impacted our lives. While these can be uncomfortable to discuss in an interview, there are negative consequences to trying to sweep something under a rug (and hope no one notices). I recently had a candidate leave a job after 18 months that he described as his “dream job with a great company”. When pressed about why he left, he refused to give a direct answer. As you can imagine, the manager assumed the worst and felt like the candidate was being dishonest.

Even if it isn’t 100% positive, there is value in honestly addressing a challenging situation and confidently stating what you learned from it (or how it made you better). A savvy manager will respect the humility and the self reflection.

  • Sounding Robotic – Despite all the buzz in the news about AI, most sales managers aren’t looking to hire a robot. Approaching the interview process as a “quiz” where you need to memorize and regurgitate the correct answers is flawed thinking. Hiring managers appreciate authenticity and conversation skills… especially as the interview process advances. Developing some personal chemistry is more important than reciting canned answers.

Be professional, but make sure to sprinkle in some of your personality (and what makes you special) rather than playing it too safe. Managers still want to hire people they like!

  • Unwilling to admit weakness/developmental needs – There is no such thing a perfect candidate for a job. We all have weaknesses. If you are pressed in an interview on an area of development or a past failure… you will score more points by showing some humility (rather than trying to trick the manager). For example, saying that your biggest weakness is working too hard sounds deceptive (and played out). Taking ownership of some things you are trying to improve upon is more endearing than claiming to be perfect.

I recently had a less experienced candidate take the bull by horns when asked about her weaknesses. She addressed it head on by saying “I probably don’t have as many years in Cardiology as some other folks, but let me tell you how I plan to overcome that”. She earned more respect by confidently addressing the elephant in the room, rather that pretending she already knew everything.

Of course, there is an art to when and where you showcase your authentic self. Launching straight into a diatribe involving too much personal information (TMI) in the first few minutes of an interview is ill-advised. Get to know the interviewer first and build a professional rapport to establish credibility. Assess their vibes and pivot accordingly. Be discerning, but Be Bold!

Grow the Vine!

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