What Is Authenticity and How Authentic Should You Be in a Job Interview?

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Ques­tion: I real­ize a job inter­view is a lot about first impres­sions. But real­is­ti­cal­ly, how much of my true per­son­al­i­ty and expe­ri­ence should I reveal?

Answer: First impres­sions cer­tain­ly set some expec­ta­tions and beliefs in the of the per­son meet­ing you. How you present your­self, your appear­ance, voice and warmth can tell them if believe they’ll enjoy the inter­view or if you seem unpre­pared or off-putting.

One of the best traits to com­mu­ni­cate in a job inter­view is authen­tic­i­ty – who you gen­uine­ly are and what you tru­ly care about and want to . Let’s look at how being authen­tic is a pos­i­tive… and when it can become prob­lem­at­ic:

What Is Authenticity?

Authen­tic­i­ty, as I define it, is when you speak the truth as you see it. If you answer a ques­tion, you give a answer from your per­spec­tive (you can also refrain from answer­ing). You’re not being fake, obtuse or vague to dri­ve the con­ver­sa­tion away from who you are, what you val­ue and what you feel. You’re being authen­tic when you speak about what you tru­ly believe.

Some peo­ple con­fuse authen­tic­i­ty (speak­ing about what you believe) with trans­paren­cy (shar­ing every­thing). I don’t see them as the same thing. At work, if you are pitch­ing a new project, for exam­ple, you’ll want to be trans­par­ent in your rea­son­ing for the pro­jec­t’s val­ue and tim­ing. But when you share with your col­leagues about your mil­i­tary expe­ri­ence, trans­paren­cy would dic­tate that you reveal every detail.

For some peo­ple, this is com­fort­able, but for oth­ers, it’s scary and risky ter­ri­to­ry. Many of you, par­tic­u­lar­ly after mil­i­tary ser­vice, have aspects of your work and the expe­ri­ences you had that you want to keep pri­vate.

in Advance What to Reveal

In a job inter­view, you’re set­ting the stage for how it could be to work with you. The inter­view­er is eval­u­at­ing your per­son­al­i­ty, pro­fes­sion­al­ism, skills and char­ac­ter. Before the inter­view, decide which top­ics of your expe­ri­ence, life and goals are open to share, and which you’d rather keep to your­self. Doing this before the inter­view empow­ers you to be focused and not share some­thing you intend­ed to keep pri­vate.

For exam­ple, you might wish to keep a trau­ma or a med­ical con­di­tion or your dream of entre­pre­neur­ship out of the con­ver­sa­tion for now. Com­mit to find­ing ways to explain gaps in your resume, feed­back you’ve received or how you’ll answer the “where do you see your­self in five years” ques­tion, if asked. Remem­ber, nev­er lie or act fake but think ahead to how you could shape respons­es before you’re asked.

Have a Plan in Case You Share Too Much

Some­times, even with the best plan­ning, some­thing spills out. Per­haps you’ve some­thing you wor­ry could cause the inter­view­er to view you neg­a­tive­ly, or which you don’t want to expand on dis­cussing.

In that moment, pause and take a deep breath. A response such as, “Apolo­gies for down that rab­bit hole …,” and then get back on track to the sit­u­a­tion. Cre­ate a plan before the inter­view in the event such a mis­step occurs.

It’s impor­tant to show the inter­view­er your per­son­al­i­ty in the meet­ing. If you’re fun, out­go­ing and empa­thet­ic toward oth­ers, that can be con­veyed in the exam­ples you share about your expe­ri­ences. If you pre­fer to work qui­et­ly and with­out a lot of per­son­al inter­ac­tion, don’t hide that. Like you, the inter­view­er is look­ing for a good fit for the com­pa­ny, the job and the team.

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