In interviews, standing apart from the hoards of other job candidates means showing your interviewers how you’re different. This is where it pays to express your own personality, rather than exhibiting a rigid, polished, robotic side. Of course, expressing your personality doesn’t mean interviewing as if you’re speaking with one your closest friends; you still have to take yourself seriously, act professionally, and show up with a clear, enthusiastic goal.
So how do you ride that fine line of connecting in a human way while also exhibiting professionalism? Here are five tips that will help you find that balance.
1. Exhibit calm confidence.
If you’re overly confident, you could come off as arrogant, as someone who thinks they're better than others. However, showing that you’re self-confident—comfortable in your own skin—is charming. You’ll build rapport with your interviewer when you make eye contact, maintain open body language with an upright posture, and use friendly facial expressions. These things are small but effective ways to express confidence. The more you show that you’re happy to be you, the more the person will be happy to be with you—and possibly even hire you.
2. Be engaging.
Only answering questions in a bland and robotic way is not professional. It’s boring. To create a connection with the hiring manager, stay animated when you answer questions. Be creative in the words you use and ideas you express. If you do, you’ll come across as a dynamic and well-rounded individual. It'll do wonders in heightening your prospects for a successful job interview. When you’re excited about what you’re talking about, your interviewer will be, too.
3. Don’t be scripted.
Interviewers can tell if you're answering with pre-programmed sentences and responses to their questions. How will they know? Because they've heard the same answers all week long from other candidates! Again, be creative in how you answer. Be honest in the areas where you may have otherwise told a little exaggeration in your skill set. You’ll be a refreshing breath of fresh air when you take some time to answer, express honestly, and talk as if you were sharing your ideas and answers moment to moment.
4. Ask specific questions.
The type of questions you ask in your interview will reveal a lot about you as a person. They'll reveal your values, interests, and passions. Not only that, asking specific questions creates more of a dialogue between you and your interviewer, in a way where it will make you both feel more relaxed and engaged in the conversation you're having. The bonus here is that when you ask questions you really want to know the answers to, you’ll learn more about the role and get a feel for how much you really gel with the company you’re applying to (and the person you're speaking with).
5. Show your sense of humor.
Humor is okay, but never try too hard! There’s a fine line between being seen as charming and having a good sense of humor, and being seen as not taking things seriously. Humor is welcome and can diffuse tension that both parties may be feeling (interviews can be overly serious on both sides). But never forget to keep it professional. There's a time and place for humor, and you’ll have to draw from your own experience in knowing when to use humor and when to pull back from saying something inappropriate (even if there’s a perfect opening for a funny one-liner). Just stay aware of yourself and the reactions of your interviewer. Social sensitivity is key throughout the whole interview.
Natalie Fisher is best known for helping professionals land their dream jobs and achieve explosive salary growth (even with little experience). Get started by downloading her free guide: The Ultimate Situational Interview Q & A Guide.
In interviews, when you know you’re being judged on what you do, what you say, and how you look, it’s understandable to get self-conscious and do all that you can to put your best foot forward. However, there’s a balance that needs to be found between coming across as likable and wasting energy on trying too hard to be liked.
In the past week, on three separate occasions, I've overheard someone ask, “How do I answer that interview question about what my passions are if I don't even know what I'm passionate about? ” And so, here, I'd like to offer a few thoughts on what appears to be a common issue when it comes to interviewing.
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