So, you've got an interview for that job you really wanted. How do you feel when you think about it? Excited about the opportunity or filled with terror?
Nerves can make us act in strange ways in a job interview, from freezing entirely to telling little white lies. Wouldn’t it be better to try and relax and be yourself and have a chat with the interviewer, human to human?
Here are some top tips for being yourself in an interview...
Prepare - but leave space for improvisation
Preparation is really important. The more you prepare, the more you’ll relax and find you can be yourself. It’s not enough to glance at a company’s website. Spend time researching recent projects the company has been involved with, the culture and the people who will be interviewing you.
Think about how you will answer the questions that they’re likely to ask. Practise them with friends or in front of the mirror but make sure you still sound like yourself, not rehearsed to the point of sounding robotic. Leave room for your personality to shine through.
It’s a conversation - treat it like one
A good interview is enjoyable for you and the interviewer. It’s a conversation where you can share experiences and opinions. Be honest - if you don’t know the answer, just admit it. No one knows everything. If you give an opinion on something, make sure you can back up why you feel that way.
The interviewer knows about your career history from your CV and although they’ll want to hear about this in more detail, what they don’t know is what sort of person you are and how you think about things. That’s what they want to find out from an interview.
Ask questions - and care about the answers
When you’re well prepared and more relaxed, it’s easier to listen to, and process, what the interviewer is saying. Take in the details they share about the company, the role and the team and be ready to ask questions. You may have prepared some questions ahead of the interview but don’t let it be a box ticking exercise. Be genuinely interested in the answer and if more questions come up in response to the information you are receiving, be sure to ask them.
Why it’s important
If you’re being interviewed by someone you’ll be working with directly, it's important that they offer a job to ‘the real you’. They will know what kind of personality fits into their team and if that isn’t you, it’s better for everyone that the process goes no further.
Working in a team where you’re not the right cultural fit can be a miserable experience and have a negative impact on your confidence.
If you pretend to be something you’re not in the interview and get the job, you will have to decide whether to carry on with the pretence, or suddenly seem like a different person in front of the people who interviewed you. Neither is a great option.
Ask yourself: if who you really are puts the interviewers off offering you the job, is that a place you would want to work?