Reflections

Should Job Interviews Require You To ‘Fake’ It?

This morning, I saw an article about job interview tips, suggesting interviewees behave in a manner that companies look for.

It said: “Most interviewers don’t really care about your ‘authentic self’. What they care about is that you display the personality traits they see as desirable.“

Ironically, authenticity is the one thing I know most interviewers (bosses, especially) look for, particularly in the creative field where your uniqueness gives you an edge. Candidates who appear too rehearsed resemble a Shutterstock meme.

So why do we encourage fresh grads to be good actors instead?

I can’t deny “yes, ma’am” candidates might stand a high chance applying for executive roles in traditional, corporate companies. Some upper management leaders prefer to hire subordinates who will “do and not ask”.

Why hire a person who will shake things up and make you look bad for not proposing these forward-thinking “Millennial” ideas?

We’re all human

There are managers who do not hire giants because they aren’t giants themselves. Managers are human; they can feel jealousy or fear of losing their positions.

But will schools teach students to navigate office politics?

Every person is born with a unique deck of cards. How we use these cards is entirely up to us.We know pretty girls are hired in IT or finance because they portray a “good image” for male clients, too.

Likewise, a fat female comedian could know her size helps her stand out.

Actress Rebel Wilson once said: “I took something that was seen as a disadvantage—no one thinks, if you’re fat, that you’re going to be an actress and everyone’s going to love you—and turned it into a positive.”

“And bigger girls do better in comedy. I don’t know why. Maybe because people find it easier to laugh. It’s very hard to laugh at someone who’s very attractive, I think. And normally those people don’t have a great personality anyway.”

Comedian Miranda Hart wrote in her autobiography: “‘If you look like a sack of offal that’s been drop-kicked down a lift-shaft into a pond, you’re going to spend many of your formative years alone.”

“This may seem miserable – but you’ll have space, space you can constructively use to discover and hone your skills… and you’ll very likely emerge from your chrysalis aged 25 as a highly accomplished young thing ready to take on the world.”

Whichever path you choose with the cards you have, go get it.

Your authentic self

Sure, hiding ourselves is nothing wrong if we see work as work; we can excel in our careers without getting personal life involved.

But if that’s not someone you can pretend to be, then work on your authentic self and not the persona you want to sell authentically. Ultimately, those who can’t work won’t work and will probably not stay for long.

If you don’t know an answer to a question, say you don’t know. But follow up with: I will figure things out through my own effort and resourcefulness. If you dislike a specific ‘stone age’ company process, say how you will improve on it, with tact.

As an interviewer myself, I learnt that job hunting is like modern dating. We can’t fool ourselves long enough with idealistic thinking. That’s why many employers hire their “type” of employee and wonder why Millennials are so “strawberry” to quit with “best rgds, kthxbai”.

How many times have we met ‘The One’ only to face-palm ourselves for buying that ‘fake nice’ behaviour?

How can we decipher a ‘type’ through two rounds of conversations, if every ‘suitor’ is told to blend in and mask their feelings?

If the hiring culture changes, the candidates will, too.

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