Often, when people read a lot of job search advice and strategies, they come to the conclusion that they have to project something other than what they are when speaking to potential employers.
There’s advice about the kind of image they need to project, the way they should answer questions, the way they should look, the way should talk, and the attitude they need to portray. It’s easy to look at that, and assume that they don’t measure up so they have to take some acting lessons pretty quick! …only to discover that ends up doing more harm than good.
Most employers can spot a phony a mile away.
Authenticity is critical to making a connection. When an interviewer believes what they see is genuine, they are much more likely to be interested in pursuing things further.
Ya’ gotta be you! So how do you do that and become more ‘hirable’ at the same time? Here are some observations…
Be honest with yourself… and them. Assess your own performance in interviews, practice with others and get honest critiques. Be willing to take to heart what ever shortcomings you may find. If you have a relatively flat personality or communication style… where you’re not very engaging… realize that may be a factor that’s hindering your progress toward a job offer. If that’s your natural state, it’s pretty hard to fake a more dynamic personality. Your greatest chance of success would be to deal with it honestly and proactively with your interviewer. At some point in the interview, you might say something like:
“I realize that I don’t come across with a naturally dynamic or charismatic personality, and there’s not much I can do about that without appearing phony. However, I’m passionate about my work and love doing a great job with whatever assignments I’m given. I hope that focusing on my results can be the most important consideration.”
That may not help if you’re interviewing for a television News Anchor position, however, for most other roles it can turn a liability around. Acknowledging the trait shows that you are self-aware, and understand how the trait might be perceived. A statement like this shows that you are focused on results regardless of the issue, and you are committed to perform your best. All of that is very attractive to a potential employer. Whether your trait is a flat or bland communication style, a nervous tick, an accent that can be hard to understand at times, a stuttering issue, or various other characteristics, dealing it with it directly is most likely to be your best bet.
Be able to articulate your strengths and accomplishments. In order to make the statement above be as credible as possible, it’s critical that you can succinctly describe what abilities you do bring to the table. You must be able to tell them what accomplishments you’ve had related to the role you’re pursuing, and what strengths you have that will be an asset to them. Take the time to determine what will be most important to the employer for this particular job, and be able to articulate your related experience to them. It takes some preparation time and effort to determine what is most relevant, and how to communicate it best.
It’s about being the best ‘you’, you can be. At the risk of sounding like a fluffy platitude… “being the best ‘you”, you can be”, is critical. Succeeding in an interview process is not about trying to be like someone else, or becoming something you’re not. Rather it’s understanding who you are, and presenting yourself in the best light.
Regardless of your natural tendencies or personality traits, there is never an excuse to be unprofessional, disrespectful, or course. Those are actions that can, and must, be controlled. However, other traits that can’t be changed without trying to become something very unnatural for yourself, can be practiced and presented as positively as possible.
It won’t work every time. Just like most things in life, nothing works every time. Your results will be dependent on the subjective response of the interviewer. Don’t try it once, perhaps still not get selected to advance in the hiring process, and decide it doesn’t work. Practice and hone your statement, and try it again next time. There are no ‘silver bullets’ in a job search. However, your odds are likely to improve dramatically if you apply it regularly.
Address your weaknesses head-on and you are likely to find you will turn a liability into an asset!
Harry Urschel has over 20 years experience as a technology recruiter in Minnesota. He currently operates as e-Executives, writes a blog for Job Seekers called The Wise Job Search, and can be found on Twitter as @eExecutives.