When trying to impress in a job interview, it’s tempting to say things you don’t really mean. If you’ve ever found yourself praising the culture of a company you barely know or emphasising how passionate you are about data entry, you’re not alone.
However, many candidates shoot themselves in the foot because they end up saying cliches they think interviewers want to hear. Instead of being impressive, people come across as disingenuous – which can be off-putting to a hiring manager.
There are many things you should avoid doing in a job interview, from showing up late to trashing your old manager. Being insincere or fake is another. While there’s nothing wrong with adding a little polish to impress someone, you should showcase your best, authentic self.
“It is so important to be yourself in your job interview and not pretend to be someone you aren’t,” says careers expert Soma Ghosh, The Career happiness mentor. “If you get the role, your true personality will eventually come out. This may not fare well for you if your personality clashes with what’s expected of you for the role.”
There’s no point in faking your way through an interview only to land a job that isn’t suited to your interests, skills, or passions. Not only will you end up disappointed and unfulfilled, the organisation that hired you will too.
However, if you’re nervous, shy or lacking in self-confidence, it can be tempting to put on a front to help you get the job. “Many people act differently in an interview as they feel they need to impress. I also think a lot of people do this because they feel they have to pretend to be someone else to blend in,” Ghosh says.
“When they get to the interview, the panel or people interviewing them may be intimidating. However, they are people too and so putting on a show will be obvious to them. Being yourself will help both you and them feel more relaxed, and answer the questions in a more honest way.”
Watch: How To Answer Difficult Interview Questions
However, it’s important to remain professional too. It’s important to recognise that being yourself doesn’t mean showing up late and admitting that you overslept. There is a big difference between being authentic and unprofessional.
“Don’t start being too friendly or too informal,” says Ghosh. “Make sure you try and fit your behaviour to what the company is like. For example, if it is a start-up – and is more relaxed – sharing your interests could help you feel like a better cultural fit. If it’s a corporate organisation, look at how others behave when greeting and talking to you and adapt to the formality.”
Ultimately, though, you shouldn’t feel pressured to play a role. Instead of hiding who you are or pretending to be someone else, think about how you can adapt your behaviour appropriately.
There are several ways you can be more yourself in a job interview. First, remember that being nervous is all part of the interview process. Even those with years of experience feel nervous when trying to land a new role.
Before heading to an interview, dress in something smart but comfortable. Think about what questions you might be asked and thoroughly research both the role and the company, considering how your experience or skills are applicable to the job on offer.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for any questions to be repeated or clarify statements if you are unsure of anything,” Ghosh advises. “Don’t pretend to answer something or unnecessarily impress because you feel embarrassed and feel the need to please your interviewer.”
Instead of putting on a persona, talk to the interviewers in a way that showcases your personality, as well as your skills and experience. However, avoid being cocky or overconfident as this can be a turn-off for hiring managers.
“Be honest about who you are through your body language and what you say,” says Ghosh. If you over exaggerate something you have done or are dishonest in the interview, this won’t help you in the long run. Even if you get the job, your employer won’t be impressed if they find out you can’t do everything you claimed to be able to.
And finally, be genuine when you show interest in the position. “Ask questions at the end that show why you want the job and what you want to get out of the role,” says Ghosh. Remember, a job interview is a two-way process. Although the employer needs someone to fill the role, you need to make sure the job is the right one for you too.