I speak with recruiting candidates every day, and every day I give the same advice for the interview: be yourself.
Seems perfectly logical and simple, right? Like, who else would you be? Yet, over and over I see people go into interviews where they say the right things and give calculated answers and work to show their very very best…
…and none of it feels real.
Saying the Right Things
Here is the deal…Saying the right stuff is great if it comes from a genuine place, but saying what you think sounds right is COMPLETELY different.
We all know there are those questions that produce negative answers. I hate them too. And in general, I don’t tend to ask them. But when you ARE asked one of those questions, giving the same standard answer everyone else gives is just blatant lies.
Think about this: if the hiring manager doesn’t see through these answers, do you really want to work for that person? Do you want to be managed and evaluated by someone who doesn’t understand basic human communication? Someone who takes everything at face value with no critical thinking?
No good can truly come out of giving a bullshit answer, even if it is a bullshit question.
Here is a great answer to this terrible questions:
Over the past year, I’ve been working on improving some specific areas in my workflow. The first area I’ve been addressing is my email management. I found I was slowing down my sales cycle and sometimes even losing a deal because I would lose control of my email communications with prospects. I’ve created a variety of new processes and invested in software to get this back on track. I have also time-blocked part of my day to address email archiving and prioritizing. Although I’ve been working through this area, it is not something that comes natural or easy to me.
Another area I’ve been working on is active listening. About 6 months ago, I joined a community group that works through activities to practice being a better listener. I did this because I realized that I was concerning myself more with what I was going to say or present next that I didn’t really listen to the details of what my prospects were saying to me. By missing those details, I wasn’t really creating the best deal strategy or even truly comprehending their business problems.
The 3rd area I need to improve is related to not listening. My deal strategy suffered from not getting the optimal discovery. With this, I have created a checklist for myself to review after each call to make sure I noted everything I needed to note. While it doesn’t help me during the call, it does allow me to see what I missed so I can continue to improve.
With this said, I would really love to learn more about your company’s training and if any coaching is offered.
Do you see why the honest answer is the better answer?
The honest answer takes the dumb question, turns it into a smart question, and takes control of the interview. Showing this level of self-awareness and self-improvement is valuable. People are always so afraid of being judged harshly for not being perfect. That isn’t the part anyone should fear. No one is perfect. It is not understanding your faults or doing anything about them…that is a problem.
It is NOT a Performance
I get it. We all get a little nervous before an interview. The more you want the job, often the more nervous we get. But turning yourself into a nervous robot doesn’t help you get the job. Even calculating the best answers and rehearsing those answers doesn’t always get you the job.
People hire people and with that comes personality.
Instead of thinking about an interview like a live SAT exam where you are under pressure to give a perfect performance, think about it as a learning experience. You are learning the person hiring and the company. They are learning about you. Everyone involved is learning, not performing.
Everyone has to learn about the other to make a good decision on whether or not to work together. So take a breath, calm down, and enjoy the conversation.
You Gotta Do You
Of course, we all like to present the best version of ourselves in interviews, but it still needs to be you. I once interviewed someone who was essentially presenting herself in a character she had created based on what she thought we wanted to hire.
Since she wasn’t a professional actor (and because I already did my due diligence with her social media), I finally got frustrated. I told her we were going to start over and this time, I wanted to have a conversation with the person who likes to jump out of planes, who drinks fun cocktails, who is outgoing and interesting.
You see, she perceived our company as being highly professional and rather conservative, which it was in many ways. So she made the assumption that we would want to hire someone more shy, quiet, and demur.
While I understand making a calculated decision like this, I don’t understand the long-term risk. Getting the job is one thing, but then you still have to keep the job! Unless you are a professional actor, I’m not sure how long you can sustain the fake version of yourself.
You want to work for people who want to work with you, the real you. It is that simple. So stop trying to merely get the job and start finding the right job!