How To Be Authentic, Yet Professional In Your Interview
Our society is all about authenticity these days, especially during the hiring process. Gone are the days when you needed to check your personality at the door and show up to your meeting with your “interview face.” Hiring Managers want to see “the real you,” but how do you balance your authentic self with being professional?
Prepare (but don’t over prepare)
Prior to your interview – do your research, but do it a little differently. Do NOT memorize your answers to every interview question on the planet. Do NOT come up with “fake weaknesses” disguised as strengths. (ie “I’m a perfectionist.) Do check out the company’s social media and mission statement, particularly looking for things that resonate with you or you are passionate about. Additionally, research every person you are interviewing with. Did you have things in common or is there something that really stands out? Don’t be afraid to mention it during your interview!
Answer questions truthfully
This may seem like a given, but you would be surprised at the stuff people say just to try and get a job. Hiring Managers are looking past canned answers for who you really are. So don’t be afraid to answer questions truthfully. Don’t have experience with something? Explain how you worked on something similar or you’ve always had an interest in learning that something.
Don’t be afraid to show excitement
This is a biggie. So often, people are nervous for interviews and it SHOWS. Candidates are stiff and quiet and reserved, the opposite of what most people would want in a future employee. (And more than likely NOT how you are in a normal situation!) When you are talking about your favorite past project, or your career goals – get passionate! Hiring Managers love to see a candidate’s eyes light up, it signals that this person will totally go to bat for us in this position.
With the popularity of behavioral interviewing, storytelling is the interview trick du jour. Instead of answering “yes” or no” when asked if have skills in a certain area, craft a story about how you gained that experience or your most impressive accomplishment within that space. This will help highlight your passion while also showcasing a deeper understanding of the concept.
Create a memorable “thing”
Hiring Managers interview A LOT of people. As many as hundreds for each position! So, you need to make sure you stand out in some little way. Maybe it’s over a bonded love for your alma matter, or your passionate admiration of a mac and cheese commercial. Whatever it is, you want it to be engaging, unique, and relevant to the position.
Own your weaknesses as much as your strengths
There is a reason that interviewers always ask this question, and no it isn’t to figure out what you suck at. Hiring Managers want to understand how you handle the things that try to hold you back. Don’t shy away from your weaknesses (no ONE is perfect), instead highlight how you manage them. For example, “I have a really hard time staying organized. But I’ve found that if I keep a detailed plan of my tasks and goals, it’s easy to manage and stay ahead.”