Let Your Personality Shine Through: Why You Should Be Yourself During Job Interviews

by Hongjun Wang

Disclaimer: The following information may come across as dangerous. You may feel slightly uncomfortable and question some of the ideas you previously assumed to be absolute or sacred. Maybe you’ll consider making decisions that you would not have otherwise made or saying things that you would not have otherwise said.

A lot of us tend to make the mistake of assuming that the job interview process is like another test we have to take in life. We approach it in the same manner as we would if we were taking a test in school. We assume that there are right answers to every question that may help us secure a job.

In times like these, when one is lucky even to be considered for a job, when jobs are no longer a given for anyone who holds a college degree, it is easy to succumb to insecurity or desperation. Quickly you’ll be spewing the nonsense that you assume your potential employers want to hear.

Are you really a team player? Are you really someone who works well under tight deadlines? Do you really consider yourself to be a responsible person?

Granted, each of us probably possesses a bit of experience and know-how regarding these desirable traits, but how strong we actually are in each of these areas is what really differentiates applicants. Each of us possesses different strengths and different qualities that make us shine in a unique way.

When we are insecure or feeling slightly desperate and overly eager to land a job...

We start to overemphasize some of these desired qualities for which certain recruiters are looking. We do our best to downplay, conceal or suppress the aspects of our personalities, interests, passions and strengths that we either believe to be undesirable or disadvantageous to our applications. This will eventually lead us to feel like we have to put on a mask or assume an identity every time we turn up at work.

Some people call it 'being professional' but we may have confused professionalism with inauthenticity.

This depends on how big a lie you tried to sell initially and how much being authentic really matters to you.

With each passing day in an unhappy, poorly-fitting job, it's easy to feel like a little bit of us is dying inside. We think we can’t afford to be who we are or to say what we mean because it could jeopardize our livelihood. We lament our perceived helplessness in an organizational culture, but are too afraid to make any attempts to change the environment.

It’s not all bad, but there is a tradeoff between achieving a quality that is fine and one that is great. Maybe you’re okay with it though — maybe that monthly paycheck makes something that is only “fine” worth it.

I personally hate settling for just being fine — I'd like to believe that there is more to life than just getting by and that there is more to work than just a transaction between your time and your rent.

It's a dangerous idea but a potentially liberating one — that our true ability to do great work, to make an impact and to create a change, depends on us being our most honest selves.

The world does not need you to suppress your true self — only an ill-fitting job will accomplish that.

Only a company that is more concerned with having a body to fill a role would discourage you from showing up at work inspired and self-aware. So don't just say the right thing in job interviews; you could end up hurting yourself.

Say the things you truly believe to be the correct responses to questions. The ones that will best represent who you really are. That will make it easier for you to be authentic you in your new work environment — if and when you do get the offer.

Photo via We Heart It