Let’s take a minute to discuss the value of authenticity and what it actually means to both the interviewer and the candidate.
The Oxford Dictionary describes ‘authentic’ as something from an undisputed origin and not a copy, based on facts; accurate and reliable, thus genuine.
You could have the perfect skill set and the ideal background; however if you appear disingenuous at any point – you are encouraging the interviewer to doubt your integrity.
It is no surprise that an interviewer is not looking for a story or for you to exercise your imagination in an interview – they are looking for your personality, character and skillset. Some candidates take poetic licence to the extreme and fabricate experiences, merely to impress the interviewer. This does exactly the opposite and demonstrates you are either being dishonest, are unprepared or are not being authentic.
Having had a discussion with a number of recruiters and talent specialists – authenticity was a high priority in a candidate profile. People want people who are honest and reflect their own values. Your authenticity is observed at every stage of the process and often by multiple people – this is how you are perceived. Match you personality to your experiences; if you enjoyed a particular part of your job, say so! Your interviewer wants to know about your passions and what makes you tick. Equally, if there are parts of your job you didn’t enjoy, relaying these in the right manner will show you’re serious about your career and are conscious of the boundaries concerning what you do and don’t want from your next role.
Five ways to help demonstrate your authenticity
1. Prepare for competency interviews: have examples prepared for each of your skills. Occasionally the business will divulge which core competencies they are evaluating you against – don’t be afraid to ask.
2. Businesses are interested in you as a person, as well as your skill set. When asked ‘tell me about yourself’ the interviewer is looking for personal information. This is likely to shape the rest of the interview. By divulging details of your life and personality, you are giving them an insight into how you perceive yourself; evidenced by how you communicate things you feel naturally passionate about.
3. Being open and honest about any development points is a clear way to display your authenticity. No one likes discussing their weaknesses; however recognising you are not perfect is a positive way to engage your interviewer. The S.T.A.R analogy is key here – it’s all about the Action and Result when discussing examples of how you have developed. What did you do and what was the result? Keep it concise and factual. There is little point in attempting to demonstrate authenticity with a key learning experience, to then put a positive spin on it. If the outcome was less then desired, highlight how you have learnt from it.
4. If you have taken the time to enter into an interview process, you should take the time to prepare for the interview(s) appropriately and make the most of the opportunity. Don’t forget that you’re representing yourself as a credible candidate… will the business want to invest in a candidate who cannot fairly represent themselves? Probably not.
5. If you are highlighting a specific personality trait or skill e.g. patient and a good listener, however will not allow the interviewer to finish a sentence – you are either not self-aware or are being dishonest. Don’t claim to be things you are not. If they are looking for a person to sit behind a desk but you have previously worked in a regional role, they are likely to challenge you on your aims. If you try to hide it, it will come out eventually and you may find yourself back on the market in no time.
Bottom line – be honest with yourself! There are too many candidates trying to mould themselves to what they think the interviewer wants to hear. If you’re straight with yourself and with your job search, your integrity and authenticity at interview will shine through.