The importance of being transparent in the interview process

Starting a job interview process is very similar to going on a first date. You want to portray the best version of yourself possible to seem like a suitable candidate. Your posture is impeccable, there’s a permanent smile pasted across your face, and you regale them with stories about your life adventures—exaggerated a bit to make you seem like the modern day version of Steve McQueen. Whether it’s in context of a first date or an interview at a tech company—you’re essentially being sized up to see not only if you’re a good fit for them—but if they can be around you everyday.

While it’s important to portray yourself in a positive light in these situations, eventually your white lies and stretched truths will create problems in the relationship. If you made it through the hiring process claiming you were an expert in Salesforce, for example, you now have to perform on the level you promised you would.

There’s a difference between putting your best foot forward and over-qualifying yourself. Whether it be “fluffing up” your resume or telling your interviewer that your weaknesses are also your strengths, there are better ways to score a job while being genuine and letting your employer see a true version of yourself.

If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything. – Mark Twain

Selling the true version of yourself

Having an appreciation of your skills is key to avoid getting caught up in a litany of white lies. Be confident with what the skillset you’re coming to the table with. Ask yourself, “What do I do better than most people?” or “What’s one thing I can do that I’m proud of?” Essentially—what is your personal brand that you can bring to market?

A good way to prepare for an interview process would be to make a list of your answers. Once you are cognizant of your skills and areas of expertise, you’ll be able to articulate this to an employer, thus presenting your value truthfully and confidently.   

How to answer the hard questions honestly

In terms of those tricky interview questions, like being asked what your biggest weakness is—honesty is still the best policy.

According to a study done by two organizational psychologists at the London Business School and the University of North Carolina, being honest about yourself in a job interview doesn’t harm your chances of being hired. They conducted “self-verification” surveys on 146 M.B.A students and 208 job seekers, analyzing their job-search success, organizational commitment and employer satisfaction. They also found that “individuals with a strong proclivity to self-verify...were more likely to be satisfied with their jobs and committed to their organizations, and their supervisors rated them as better employees.”

So instead of talking about how you are a “perfectionist” who can be “too committed to your job,” try taking the genuine route. List a weakness and talk about what you have done to overcome it. If you have a hard time with confrontation, talk about how you are learning to be more assertive by offering constructive criticism and solutions when disagreeing with someone else’s work.

If you do this, your interviewer will see that you are not only truthful, but that you have taken the time to analyze the situation and find a solution. This also gives your potential employer insight on how he or she can guide you to succeed in the company upon being hired.

Are you a good match? 

When a hiring manager is searching for an employee, they are looking for a cultural fit that meshes well with the company vision and workplace dynamic. This goes back to the dating analogy—can I see myself with this person on an ideally long-term basis? 

The consequences of putting on a front during your interview in order to appeal better to the job may not even be worth the trouble. Going to your job every day having to put on a facade will ultimately be detrimental to your career trajectory.

When people try to display a self that is not true to themselves, they create a sense of alienation from oneself which increases emotional exhaustion and uses up cognitive resources that could have been focused on job performance.

Additionally, lying about your experiences and skills is likely to catch up to you, and not in a good way. It may be easy to over-exaggerate your competency on a resume or during an interview process, but your true skill level will come through when put to the test.

Remember, before anything else, preparation is the key to success. Consider these five areas of preparation before ever stepping foot in the interview room.

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