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Keeping it real: Acknowledging strengths and weaknesses convinces interviewers they’re seeing the real you

Published on Saturday, 31 Oct 2015
Keeping it real: Acknowledging strengths and weaknesses convinces interviewers they’re seeing the real you

As a recruitment and communications strategist, part of my role is to enable candidates to come across as authentic and professional in interviews.

We tend to switch off if we feel there is something insincere and inconsistent about the person we’re speaking to. It can be a sudden change in the tone of voice, words that sound rehearsed, or involuntarily crossing arms when answering certain questions. 

Our instincts pick up these cues and we put up our guard. That is why authenticity is so powerful – it speaks to the heart of people interviewing you.

Being authentic starts with being honest with yourself. Acknowledge your strengths and think of stories that illustrate them. When asked about your weaknesses and failures, be honest and talk about how you are working on them. Don’t try to use the question as a way to soft-sell your strengths, as your interviewer will be used to this trick and not pleased to hear you beat around the bush. Instead, focus on how you find solutions to resolve issues instead of dwelling on negativity.

I would also encourage you to evaluate your career to find out who you are. What motivates you? What gives you satisfaction? What achievements are you most proud of? What are your deepest fears, and what are your aspirations? As you answer those questions honestly with neither pride nor shame, a consistent career trajectory will take shape. This will help you make sense of your previous and future career choices and answer relevant questions with ease and confidence.

But there is a fine line between familiarity and authenticity. Authenticity is only relevant in the context of the interview, which is the primary reason why two individuals are investing time in each other. Personal stories and anecdotes are proof points to substantiate a point you are trying to make but beyond that, they are irrelevant and inappropriate.

Your qualifications and job experience are already on your CV. Interviews are when you bring these facts to life, so go in with an open heart and an open mind. If you feel there are lots in common between the company and you, the odds are they feel the same way too.


This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as Keeping it real.

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