You’re sitting in a coffee shop waiting for “Mr or Mrs Right” to show up. You check the time – any minute now. A bead of sweat runs down your brow, your palms are sweaty…
You gulp down a glass of water in an attempt to quench your dry mouth. In walks the man/woman of your dreams. Your heart skips a couple of beats and you find yourself wanting to say and do all the right things… even if that means you have to become someone else.
You’re now six months in and things just aren’t working out and you’re wondering why. Chances are it’s because you’ve been pretending to be someone other than who you really are. Trying to sustain this ruse over any substantial period of time can be exhausting. Eventually you’re going to be “found out”.
The best thing you can do for yourself and for them is to, well- just be yourself.
Remember that the next time you find yourself on an interview- sitting across from a potential employer. For starters, take a deep breath… That’s it…in through your nose and out through your mouth. Once more. Ok – now you’re ready! The best thing you can do for yourself and for them is to, well- just be yourself.
But wait – who are you?
You are your own person, with your own thoughts and opinions. Don’t just agree with everything your potential employer is saying because you want to appear affable. If you have a differing opinion or a different experience, don’t be afraid to respectively express it. Believe it or not – your employer may be excited by the prospect of you bringing an alternate point of view to the conversation.
You’re witty, confident and insightful. You should absolutely be knowledgeable about your craft and you should be able to have a conversation about the process and know what you like and why you like it. But, if there’s a playful side to your personality don’t be afraid to express that as well. Don’t be overly self-assured or egotistical, but be confident in what you can bring to the company- and don’t be afraid to have some fun!
Your dialogue shouldn’t sound rehearsed, but it should certainly be rehearsed.
You have a history and you should be able to concisely and effectively communicate that backstory, making sure to hit all the pivotal moments in the journey that has shaped your career (up to this point). Your dialogue shouldn’t sound rehearsed, but it should certainly be rehearsed.
You’re going to be nervous, so the better you know your “story” the more you can stay connected to your breathing and the more you can remain centered and present in the room. But take the shortest route possible and don’t meander when telling the story. Most importantly, don’t make stuff up… If you’re not an avid gamer, don’t pretend to be one just in an effort to impress.
You’re chatty by nature, and that’s okay, but just like on a date – don’t do ALL the talking. Or let’s say you’re the shy type… that’s okay too, but the conversation should be balanced. Ask questions- get to know the person on the other side of the table. Allow your potential employer an opportunity to talk and to give you a little more insight into what their expectations are, and be prepared to listen.
It’s not cool for you, or your employer, when six months into your working relationship you both realize you are someone completely different than who you were pretending to be during the interview process.
If you listen attentively enough, you can then formulate additional questions. Then the conversation will flow and you can avoid those awkward moments of silence when neither party knows what to say. Or worse yet… that glazed over look someone gets when you’ve absolutely talked too much!
Remember- you’re in a relationship…it’s a two-way street. After a few interviews, you should absolutely know if you are a good fit for the company and just as importantly, if the company is good fit for you.
When interviewing, employers want you to do well because that means their search is over. But it’s not cool for you or your employer when six months into your working relationship you both realize you are someone completely different than who you were pretending to be during the interview process.
So go forth with the confidence of knowing you’re encouraged to be exactly who you are.
About the Author
Karen Kirkland is a Creative Strategist and author of the blog How to Date your Boss.. A Recruiters Guide to Finding your Career-Mate
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