The Authentic You is the One that Gets and Keeps the Job

Warren Alter from Alter Surety Group posted a recommendation to read a book called Presence by Amy Cuddy. It is about bringing your boldest self to your biggest challenges.

The book has a full section on interviewing, in which the author proceeds to discuss the fact that the harder a candidate works to practice and control what they are going to say, usually the worse they do.  Why? Because they are not their “authentic self”.

She goes on to define authentic self as an experience and not a trait.  It is you in the present, where you are taking time to remind yourself what is important to you. She describes authentic self as multi-faceted and not singular. It is expressed and reflected though your thoughts, feelings, values and behaviors.  Your Authentic self is dynamic and flexible, not static and rigid. It is responsive and open to growth.

When we are preparing a candidate for interview, we advise them to be themselves. 

One of the sayings we share with candidates is:  Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative and never lie. We go on to explain that when asked a question, give examples of what you have experienced or taken ownership of that pertains to the question asked.  By sharing examples, the interview becomes more conversational in nature, instead of investigative. The conversational approach offers both sides the opportunity to expand on particular topics that help clarify whether the opportunity is a right fit or not. It helps the candidate and the hiring manager to better understand what the candidate might be able to take responsibility for quickly, and what areas may require training before handing them the reigns.

An example might be that the interviewer asks the question: “Do you have experience with buy-out?”  Candidates will often respond with, “Not really”, or “I have not been responsible for buying out a complete project.”

You should instead answer with what experience you do have.  Example: “While building the Latitude project, we did not have the miscellaneous metal portion of the project bought out and I was responsible for the buyout from the field.”  Stating what you have done demonstrates your understanding of the process, and gives the employer the ability to check that box with at least knowledge of the process, instead of not checking the box because they think you need full training on the buy-out process. The interview can then continue conversationally to confirm other experience, as they are no longer concerned about your understanding the buy-out process, which may be an important part of the job you are interviewing for.

The never lie portion is extremely important. 

The Author of the book Presence, Amy Cuddy, is a Harvard Professor and Research specialist on human behavior.  She states “When people lie, they are juggling multiple narratives: what they know to be true, what they want to be true, what they are presenting as true, and all the emotions that go along with each — fear, anger, guilt, hope.”

It is important to have verification to the experience you are stating you have.  The employer may come back and ask who you reported to during the Latitude project, and would you provide their contact information so they can verify your responsibilities on the project.  The ability to provide references and samples of your work always helps both you and the potential new employer to make sure the job is right for you, and that they can provide the support you need to be successful in the job.

If you want to know more about authentic self, or how to read people’s body language better and learn to recognize your own behaviors, I highly recommend the book along with Amy Cuddy’s TED Talks.

To the Authentic You,

Suzanne Breistol

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