Job interviews are a hard thing to do, even with all the information and opinions lying around. I personally believe you only need one thing: authenticity.
I have a friend who recently experienced the frantic world of job interviews here in Athens. They are an entry level individual and the market can be a bit aggressive, especially during a period of mass exits from local colleges and universities.
Job descriptions seem demanding and most of them make you feel useless.
There are some shady and weird standards everyone follows.
Everybody just keeps asking you to do a test.
Your commute starts measuring in kilometres, like you’re a nomad or something.
Follow up times are just plain torture.
The Greek economy is unstable and fragile.
It looks impossible, especially for someone entering the market. I can relate to my friend in a great level; the anxiety, the worry and the stress that builds up after a series of failures. Not getting the interview, or the job, is by definition a failed attempt at something.
I have had my fair share of job interviews, but I’m definitely not the king of the castle. There are plenty of young individuals out there with better degrees, better work ethic, better skills and better personas than myself, knocking from door to door in desperation. And most of the times, they settle for so much less because of the fear.
We choose to accept an offer in fear of the next ones, or the lack thereof.
One of my interviews came shortly after a freelancing agreement, as a result of necessity to continue the project. I needed to get to headquarters to get it done.
So the circumstances don’t exactly relate to my friend’s job hunt so far. At some point, a couple of weeks in and out of the company’s office, I was invited to the meeting room to talk about the future of our partnership.
At the time, and for some years leading up to that moment, I was rather unfortunate in my financial situation. So I entered that room with a horrible pair of shoes I used to wear all the time, because I owned no other. As the meeting progressed, my anxiety and stress simply hit the roof, as I steadily became distracted and disoriented.
Oh, the smell from my shoes.
The shame was unbearable. I stopped caring about looking good in the interview and started caring about these poor folks that were blissfully unaware of the incoming oblivion. No air conditioning. No windows. I know how it feels to experience someone else’s shoe odour in a closed room. I was now doing it to them, treating them exactly the way I didn’t want to be treated personally. That is something I believe in my heart.
I cut the meeting rather sharply towards the end.
“We should go out or we’ll all going to die from my shoes”
Yes, I said that. And I never regretted it.
No matter how awful a circumstance may seem, we never seem to regret actions or words that express our genuine selves. The things that we genuinely desire to do or say, no matter the consequences. It has nothing to do with pride, or honour or even a sales pitch; it’s about authenticity.
The meeting went well in general. I got the job. And we worked splendidly together, accomplishing good things.
From the Opposite Perspective
I remember the anxiety. The feel of failure, the anticipation of it, after a previous failure, a previous failed job interview. We think “discarded”, “not selected”, “not trusted”, “not useful”, thoughts and mistakes which are not true.
Unless you’re an entry level developer applying for a management position, the explanation is very simple.
You just don’t match. And that’s OK.
From an employer’s perspective, you are an investment in time, effort and money. They are looking for someone who has potential to outweigh their risk in the company. Your interview is with either a senior, a manager of the team or the manager of the company.
They risk their job, their company and their money with your interview.
At the end of the day, you will not outweigh the risks of being hired just by acing the test, having a perfect smile or rehearsing the talking points you found on Quora. At the end of the day, you need to be reliable. You need to be genuine.
Reliable comes stronger when you’re authentic. When you are yourself.
Yes, the new, inexperienced, unsure, anxious you.
So, please, step out of your perfect little cocoon and stop walking around like an amazing sheet of credentials, experience and personality. You are a human being.
Nobody’s expecting anything else.
A General Take
Job interviews, especially at entry and junior levels, usually scare the shit out of us. We contemplate on the bad stuff all the time, and walking out of a failed interview helps elevate the stress and the anxiety we feel.
There’s only one thing you can do: be authentic.
This post originally was published in LinkedIn by George Kary.
George helps individuals and organisations bridge the gap in web design through innovative ideas and collaborative thinking.