The other night, as part of a coaching session, I was conducting a post mortem with a client who just had her first interview in months. She asked a very simple, but sincere question. She said, “Rick, during the interview should I project myself as the person they are seeking or just be myself?” This made me think of this person who really needed this job and how landing it would help her circumstances. Of course, I could do the whole “to thy own self be true” thang on you, but instead, how about this?
- 1. Guessing what “type” of person the interviewer is seeking is risky. What if you are wrong and you tried to fake your way into a job by using the wrong personality?
- 2. There are people out there who are attracted and seeking the opposite of who they are to complement themselves and an organization. If you shadow the interviewer then you actually are working against yourself.
- 3. How about the “Wow” factor, by just allowing the interviewer to be impressed that you are comfortable in your own skin?
- 4. If you present yourself as you are, wouldn’t you just naturally be more comfortable and relaxed during the interview?
- 5. You can be very knowledgeable and professional yet be friendly, fun, and enthusiastic.
- 6. You can be “seasoned” and refined, but yet a bit off.
- 7. Many organizations do find it cool that the candidate with an MBA is a weekend biker.
- 8. As Americans, we embrace our independence and sense of individualism, so nowhere else in the world you can pull this off, so why not take advantage of it?
Now, this doesn’t mean that you “let it all hang out” and draw caution to the wind, but instead, present yourself (your real self) in the best possible light, but allow yourself to be the person you really are. Could it limit your opportunity? Sure, but should you get the job, it will allow everyone to be aware of you on the first day. If you don’t get the job, then maybe you avoided some real pain when you realize that the expectations that you created in the mind of the organization are false and you are now set up for failure.
As I finished this coaching question, I asked my client “So, how did you behave during the interview?” I’m happy to report she replied, “Rick, I was who I am”. -Rick Baron