Did you ever think you nailed an interview, but then didn’t get the job?
My friend thought he was fantastic at job interviews. But he wasn’t.
I used to work at Boston University College of Communication’s Career Development Center, so people come to me all the time asking for advice on their resumes, cover letters, and interview skills.
Recently, I helped a close friend with his resume, and he landed an interview for his dream job as a Technical Analyst at Accenture.
Now, he’s one of the smartest people I know, and his skill-set and creative problem-solving abilities made a perfect fit for the job. But he was coming right out of college, and the company was looking at hundreds of other applicants from top universities to fill only 4 positions.
But we fixed up his resume, he landed the interview and did all of the technical research and prep.
He thought he was ready for the interview, but he wasn’t.
I conducted a practice interview with him the night before the real thing.
About two questions into the practice interview I stopped him. Two questions in I could tell he wasn’t going to get the job if he interviewed the way he was right now.
“Let’s stop here and try something different,” I said. “You told me you thought you were a really strong interviewer. What do you think makes you a strong interviewer?”
I knew what he was going to say. Students would come into the Career Development Center every day and say the same thing.
And the thing they thought was a strength was actually preventing them from getting the job.
“Well, I’m an actor. I do theatre for fun so I’m a really confident performer. I’m good at pretending.”
DING, DING, DING!
“I’m a really confident performer. I’m good at pretending.”
Now, a lot of you may know me as DHD the video girl from Drift, the screenwriter from IT MOVES IT, or the Creative Director of Epiq Media. But before I was any of those things, I was first and foremost an actor. Crazy, right?! I even studied at The Stella Adler Conservatory for Acting and was the President of Boston University’s Theatre group back in the day.
(Here’s proof! -> )
And yes. I am about to compare acting and job interviews. But not at all for the reason you’re expecting 😉.
One of the BIGGEST misconceptions about acting is that acting is pretending. Good acting is actually living truthfully.
The great acting experts like Stanislavski, Stella Adler, and Stanford Meisner all came to the conclusion that great acting craft and technique comes from understanding so fully what it’s like to be another person that you’re not lying or pretending. The best actors are 100% truthful.
The same idea applies to job interviews.
Candidates, especially young ones, go into job interviews and think they need to put on a show. They see it as a performance where their end goal is simply to impress the interviewer and leave them with the impression that your skills and experience are far superior to anyone else that could possibly walk into the interview room.
But here’s the problem. If you’re 22 years old, that’s probably not the case. So, when you walk into your interview and try to put on a show and be someone your not, or overplay your skills and experience, chances are, the interviewer is going to see right through you, and you’re not going to get the job.
Ok, Danielle. We get it. But if I’m not supposed to put on a show and try to impress them, what am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to get the job?
I’m going to tell you a secret. It’s a secret I learned working at Boston University’s Career Development Center and from all of the interviews and conversations, David Cancel and Dave Gerhardt had about Hiring when I was working on Drift’s Seeking Wisdom podcast.
(P.S. This is one of my favorite Episodes of Seeking Wisdom. Patty McCord drops some amazing wisdom about hiring, firing, and people that really helped me understand what companies are looking for and how to be a better employee! 👇👇👇)
Recruiters aren’t necessarily looking for the person with the most experience or awards. More often than not, good recruiters look for the person who’s honest, hardworking, and capable of learning and growing.
When you walk into an interview and put on a show, you’re not actually presenting yourself as confident and experienced. You’re actually presenting yourself as dishonest and egotistical.
Recruiters would rather hire the kid who’s willing to learn and grow over the kid with the 4.0 GPA who’s president of everything if it seems like that kid has an ego.
It’s graduation season. I know a lot of 22-year-olds who are interviewing and looking for their first job out of college. If you’re one of those people, or even if you’re older, more experienced and looking for a new opportunity, here’s what you should do the next time you have an interview:
Just be yourself!
Interviews are kind of like first dates. Just like first dates, the recruiter is looking for more than what makes you qualified on paper. They want to see what you’re passionate about and if you and the company would have a genuine, compatible connection.
Don’t just talk about what you’ve done, but talk about why you’ve done the things that you’ve done. This is the recruiters chance to get to know you as a person. Why do you love the things that you love? How do your passions apply to the position and the company? Just be real!
And if you do all of that and don’t get the job, then it might be because you weren’t the right fit for the company, and the company wasn’t the right fit for you. Just like you’re not meant to date everyone you go out with, you’re not meant to work at every company you interview for. So don’t be discouraged the next time you get a rejection letter. Think of it as your opportunity to find your perfect match.
Have a good story about job interviews, career development, or personal growth? E-Mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear your stories and thoughts!