Q: What is the right communication style for an interview? How much should I really be “me” and let my true personality shine through or is that too casual?
This is a great question that came up during last nights NYC career Q&A event. I’ve thought a lot about this – from the job seeker’s perspective, and also the recruiter’s/interviewer’s perspective. Here’s a little trick/rule of thumb I’ve come up with about how to communicate during an interview:
If you use this trick as a filter as you answer questions, it should result in the following in the perfect type of communication style for an interview. Here’s why:
You will give clear and direct answers
When you’re talking to someone who doesn’t know you that well, you will explain things in a way that is really clear. That type of clarity and direct communication style is perfect for an interview because you never want to assume that an interviewer will know intimate details of a specific task or project. Err on the side of spelling things out and give plenty of examples to back up what you’re saying.
You will be yourself without being over the top
I am 100% behind showing your true colors during an interview for a few reasons. First of all, you’ll never be able to be at the top of your game in an interview if you are spending energy trying to be someone you’re not. Even if you do pull the wool over the interviewer’s eyes, that means you’re going to have to spend your energy pretending to be someone you’re not every day on the job – and that’s an uphill battle. However, when you get too casual, you risk no longer being able to relate to your interviewer. In some cases, you can also risk coming across as unprofessional. If you stick to the rule of thumb of talking to your friend’s parents, you will be able to be yourself, without getting too comfy.
You will want to impress
You know how there are some people in your life that you feel you don’t need to go out of your way to impress, because they just get you? Interviewers do not fall into that category. Similarly to how you might want to come across to a friend’s parents, you need to make sure you are highlighting your biggest accomplishments, feats, and strengths and not sharing too much about what is bringing you down or your flaws. Don’t go to negative-town in an interview. Of course show that you are human (not perfect) but overall, keep the conversation really positive and focus on impressing!
At the end of the day being yourself won’t always land you the job.
However, if you are honest and true to yourself, this will land you the right job, and that’s the job you want to be in.
Once you start working at a new place in a new role, it’s going to take enough time and energy to learn a ton of new things and to get the job done. If you are constantly worrying about compensating for skills you don’t have or pretending to be something you’re not, how much effort will you be able to put into the actual work? How enjoyable will it be to go to work every day? These are such important things to consider. So be the best version of you, keep it professional, and you will land in a great place.
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