“How much of your personality should you show in an interview?” This question came up recently and it’s one I love. Interviews are, frankly, pretty weird situations. Tiny rooms, uncomfortable clothes and really hard questions. Plus the whole ‘judging you as a person’ thing.
If you’re a natural people pleaser like me (or if you just really want to get the job), it’s perfectly normal to feel like you should play the part of the ‘good candidate’. Most of us try to lock down our personality and focus on fitting in and giving the answers they want to hear.
Interviewing = Dating
But think about it this way: You go on a date with someone, and pretty early on they tell you something big about themselves. Perhaps they’re hard-core paleo-vegans and only eat fruit and nuts. They might be passionate about running ultra-marathons. Or maybe they own ten cats.
For most of us, if a potential partner tells you they own ten cats, it’s a big deal. This person has revealed a significant part of who they are and therefore shown you what it would be like to live with them. This is a good thing; you get to decide right now whether you’re ok with a life of shredded furniture and tumbleweeds of fur roaming the lounge room floor. If that’s something you can live with, great. If not, at least you found out before you moved in.
Many people are scared that revealing their personality will scare interviewers off. We worry that who we are is the wrong fit for a company. Perhaps we’re too cheeky, or our sense of humour is a little on the dirty side, or we’re a bit of a smart-ass (the last one is me for sure!)
Whoever you are, it’s important to balance getting a job you really want with some authenticity; obviously you still want to make a good impression and keep things professional, but you have to show a little bit of what makes you special in the interview.
Basically, you need to tell them about your cats.
Be proud of your ten cats
In a world full of candidates on their best behaviour, trying to be as neutrally appealing to everyone as possible, someone with a bit of personality is going to stand out. Maybe you reveal your ten cats and they turn out to be dog people. It hurts, but not as much as getting the job and then realising you’re in the wrong company. Think ‘party animal joining a team of introverts’ and you get the picture.
On the flip side, what happens if they’re cat people too? As a recruiter, I’ve fallen in love with a candidate for a role from a single authentic comment. Something genuine about them slipped out by accident and revealed more to me than an hour of questions ever could. When the culture fit is just right, the rest sorts itself out, but finding the match is hard work.
So, what are your ‘ten cats’? What true and genuine part of yourself do people need to know about you to love you? Do you have a dry sense of humour? Are you innately sassy? Are you the sweetest person alive? If you let them know exactly who you are upfront, then the ball’s in their court.
If it’s not right, then better you both know now, but if it is a perfect fit, then it dramatically increases the chances of getting your ‘happily ever after’.
Want to practice talking about your ‘ten cats’ before the big interview? Join Team Grownup on Facebook. We’re a private group, we look after each other and share advice. Because you are wonderful, we just need to help them see it.