How to Stop Selling Yourself and Start Being Yourself in an Interview

According to a 2018 Gallup poll, over 60% of people are not engaged at work. I believe this is likely due to not being in the right job, and, as a result, the amount of human capital and business value left on the table is unquantifiable.

If you are seeking your next professional opportunity, how can you avoid becoming a statistic? And if you already know you are unfulfilled in your current role, what do you do once you are invited to interview for a position that truly interests you?

Of course, you have to be able to demonstrate, through your resume and other professional documents, that you are the subject or functional matter expert for the role. You should also show you have been able to achieve the type of results that the hiring team will look for when they speak with you. I’ve found, through being an expert in executive coaching and career transitions, that these more technical factors are where most of us spend our time when preparing for the interview.

But from my perspective, it is highly likely that if 25 people have been selected to interview, all 25 will be smart, all will be subject matter or functional experts in the role to be filled, and all 25 will have read the same interview prep questions and written many of the same scripted answers to those questions.

My experience suggests that it is only by being you, and not selling you, that you will ultimately find yourself in exactly the right professional seat, no matter if you are starting your career or have already established one.

Follow these steps before your next interview:

Take the time to articulate what drives you.

Your values are likely what motivate you, so share with your interviewer how you will demonstrate your core beliefs in the role you seek to fill. For example, if you are leading a team for the first time, will you seek to build trust among your team and be clear enough in your vision so that you can hold one another accountable to achieve collective results? Can you listen to your team members in a way in which they know they have been heard?

If you can truly articulate how you will show up in your new role, there is no stronger demonstration of your leadership style. You should be able to describe to the hiring team how you will show up every day to execute on the role. Give them the ability to imagine you performing (and excelling) at the job. If you can do this, I believe you will make a lasting impression on the interview team.

Create your own set of questions for the interview team.

This helps you decide whether the role is a good fit for who you are. You should be ready to answer the questions you know will come to you, but it’s also important to spend time asking them what it feels like day to day to be in the role for which you are being considered. Don’t stop your questioning until you have a good understanding of being in the position. This is the only way to affirmatively determine if you will find yourself in the right seat.

Role play.

I suggest that you spend 20% of your prep time on articulating why you are a subject or function matter expert. Spend 80% of the time finding the right words to communicate who you truly are and how that would look on a day-to-day basis in the role for which you are interviewing. You might be self-aware, but a gap can exist between knowing who you are and articulating who you are in a way that’s authentic and succinct.

I’ve found that role-playing can help you hone this critical message. You can do this with a coach or a trusted friend; just ensure you are with someone who knows you well and can help you feel comfortable getting out of the “selling yourself” mindset and into the “being yourself” mindset.

Let go of the results.

If you show up in the interview being exactly who you are, know that you have presented yourself authentically, answered all the subject matter questions to the best of your ability and asked all the questions you can to help you ascertain whether the role fits you, then you’ve had a successful interview. If you have done these things, then the result — no matter which way it goes — will be the exact right one. If you do not get the job, it was likely because the fit was not right. If you do get the position, there is a much greater likelihood you will find yourself in the right seat.

Source: Lisa Walsh, Forbes

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.