Interviewer #1: “What did you think of the job candidate?”
Interviewer #2: “She definitely has the experience we’re looking for.”
Interviewer #1: “Agreed. But do you like her? Would you enjoy working with her?”
Interviewer #2: “To tell you the truth, I didn’t really get a good sense for who she is.”
This is a conversation often had immediately following a job candidate’s interview. Of course, you, as a job seeker, will never be within earshot of this exchange. Rest assured, however, that this is (more or less) what will take place once you leave the building.
I’ve recently read two interesting and instructive articles on the benefits of letting your personality shine during job interviews… as well as in other parts of your job search.
One article, How to survive the behavioral interviewing process, is written by Belo Cipriani, an award-winning author and blogger for Get to Work. Cipriani asserts that most interviewers, while obligated to assess a candidate’s technical credentials, are also trying to figure out how much a candidate will add to the general atmosphere of the work place. If you conceal or misrepresent your true personality (typical of job candidates who fear that revealing such will make them appear less than professional), you deprive employers of seeing an important element of your total net worth.
Practically all job interviewers invite candidates to pose questions. Cipriani strongly suggests that you respond not only with job-related inquiries, but also with ones of a more informal nature. “What are some good restaurants near here?” for one. Whatever the interviewer answers with, you can respond, hopefully with some honesty (as well as with subtlety) that you too enjoy such a cuisine. Nothing bonds people together more than food! Or how about, “I look the A train to get here; do you think the E would have been a faster trip from uptown? How do you get to work?” Such questions not only open up the conversation (and turn it into a real back-and-forth dialogue), but also gently suggest a confidence from you that the interview is going well, and that you’re already thinking about how you can most efficiently get from home to your new place of employment.
Showcase Individuality to Stand Out in the Job Search, an article by Alexis Grant, cites how being sans-personality can translate into being plain-boring. The typical excuse drummed out from a typical Casper Milquetoast job-seeker is the belief that “Who, in my industry, writes a creative cover letter or reveals their true personality during meetings and job interviews?” (No one.)
But that’s the best reason to do it… so as to stand out from the pack! “If you stick to what feels safe, you will forever float in the sea of unremarkable,” writes Grant.
Some tactical advice: Connect with the company, hiring manager and other target employees via social media before your interview…perhaps before you even apply…so that those with decision-making power can begin to get a sense of who you are, and also realize that you’re out there looking to get in. Note that this is yet another reason to keep your online presence professional, though that doesn’t mean it can’t show personality!
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