You’re Trying For A Job, Not An Academy Award

I always tell my candidates that there will be no academy award for their interview performance. And many of them laugh in response to my half-joking comment as if they don’t even realize the truth behind it. In an attempt to control the interview as much as possible, candidates assume the role of the “perfect choice,” regurgitating over-practiced lines and reciting weaknesses that aren’t really weaknesses until they depart from their natural organic selves all together. Job seekers, while your intentions are all good and well, one of the number one complaints employers make about you, alongside little preparation and low self-confidence, is a lack of sincerity.

Credit: yourbestbusinessconnection.com

Credit: yourbestbusinessconnection.com

The reality is that most interviews today are heavily behavioral-based. And because so many job seekers don’t know how to properly prepare for those soft-skill questions and feel so uncomfortable in an interview setting, they unknowingly portray themselves as actors playing a role. Unlike the past, when hiring managers simply wanted to know if you had the hard skills to get the job done, employers today are looking to discover the who, the what, the where, the when and the why – they want to know the real you. And it’s no accident that game has changed. After all, the reason most employees don’t work out isn’t because of a skills problem; it’s because they’re not a good cultural fit.

Behavioral-based questions force candidates to share specific experiences from their past that give a glimpse into their character, such as how they deal with adversity, communicate and collaborate with other team members, and solve problems. Most employers have developed questions based on the unique needs of their organizational goals, corporate culture, and, of course, the role in question. Most candidates, on the other hand, put their negativity blinders on and see these behavioral-based questions as another ploy to make them squirm in their seats. And they wonder why they haven’t yet secured the right role.

Jobseekers, my advice is – you guessed it – to shift your thinking. Instead of viewing the interview process as some inhumane form of torture, understand that, to employers, it’s simply a business meeting to find out if the two parties make a good fit. And that’s how you should approach it. It may also help to know that, contrary to popular belief, hiring managers feel just as uncomfortable and are forced to undergo the same level of preparation as you do. Take those questions beginning with “Tell me about a time when…” How a person approaches any situation, and, more importantly, what they’ve learned from past experiences, is one of the best ways employers can assess a person’s compatibility.

So drop the 90s salesy interview approach and start doing these things: 1. getting in touch with your work behaviors and 2. getting comfortable communicating your needs and goals. Because guess what, the “Top 10 Interview Tips” you found on Google aren’t going to help you get passed those superficial answers and get to the good stuff. These days, an employer-employee relationship is more than skin-deep. In order to truly understand your soft skills and how they can work for you, try taking a behavioral assessment.

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