The secret to nailing an interview is to let your personality shine. This will make you memorable and put you in a terrific position for getting a second interview. Throw out your notes and rehearsed responses and master the ability to have a natural conversation with your interviewer. Interviewers want to hire people that they would like to work with. If you can create a connection, it may land you the job.
You can create the opportunity for connections by relaxing enough to recognize moments that will allow you to show something about yourself. An ordinary mention of the weather may give you a chance to talk about going camping this weekend, or how your dog likes to go for walks in the rain. Answering, “How was your flight?” might offer a chance to mention recent travel. Create relatable moments that the interviewer will remember.
In most interviews, you will be asked questions about challenges you have overcome. Everyone, including the interviewer, has faced challenges and this, too, can be a way to show your personality. Candidates always have a canned answer for this question, and interviews usually know that the answer is rehearsed and insincere. Take a different approach and calmly talk about how deeply this challenge affected you, but that with grit and determination, you persevered. By acknowledging the personal impact instead of glossing over it, there is a much greater chance that you will make a connection with the interviewer and that your story will resonate with them. Be forthright and genuine with your response.
On the flipside, you will also be asked to give an example of career success. These are the “fun” questions for interviews, so when you answer, be sure you share the excitement and emotion that came with that success. Celebrate it again as you tell the story. Do not just give a rehearsed response that you have provided before. This time tell a story that shares the joy of that experience. It is a great opportunity for creating a truly memorable moment.
It bears mentioning that in the past, and maybe even now, women were warned not to talk about their children because employers would not hire them. Forget that advice. Be yourself, and if the moment presents itself, do not go out of your way to avoid mentioning kids. That said, be careful not to complain about them, and it’s probably a good idea not to talk about how much time it takes to raise them. But don’t feel like you need to keep them a secret.
The key to feeling comfortable enough to showcase your personality is to prepare thoroughly. Learn as much as you can about the company and the position you are seeking. This will allow you to be yourself without having to rely on notes or rehearse your responses. Be sure to read any public filings and news you can find. Learn the company’s trajectory – is it in a growth mode? If not, come up with ideas about how you can contribute to the turnaround. The interviewer will recognize the work that went into preparing for the interview and that you are genuinely interested in the company and the job.
Like miners sifting to find the gold nugget amongst the grains of sand, Interviewers are trying to find the candidate who stands out from all the others. Be yourself and shine.
Adriane Harrison is the Vice President of Human Relations Consulting at PRINTING United Alliance, the most comprehensive member-based printing and graphic arts association in the United States. PRINTING United Alliance members have exclusive access to preeminent education; training; workshops; events; research; governmental and legislative representation; safety and environmental sustainability guidance; and resources from the leading media company in the industry – NAPCO Media.