Why You Don’t Need to Be Perfect in an Interview
Job interviews are nerve-wracking, that’s a given. After all, you’re going into a room with the specific intent to convince the other person or people that you’re more qualified than anyone else they’re talking to.
But going into an interview with the need to be “perfect” will most likely just make you nervous and jumpy. If that isn’t your usual demeanor, you’re doing yourself and the interviewer a disservice. Instead of showing them what it would be like to work with you and how you can contribute to the team, your need for perfection is skewing your personality. And while nerves are common, going into an interview knowing that it’s OK to be yourself and perfection isn’t the goal can help alleviate that self-imposed pressure.
Authenticity Over Perfection
So yes, the pressure is on in an interview, but that doesn’t mean you should put on a front. The whole point of an interview is to see if you fit in with the team and company and have the right experience to do the job they’re asking for. So if anything, pretending to be someone else is just going to potentially land you a job or a company that you’re not the right fit for. Be yourself — a polished version of yourself, but yourself all the same.
If you’re prone to nerves, try deep breathing before you walk into the office, or recite a mantra in your head on your way to the meeting to boost your confidence. Or, ask a close friend or family member to give you a pep talk in the days leading up to the interview. Do what you need to do to go into the meeting confident and prepared, while still being true to yourself.
Candid is Key
Once you’ve combatted any nerves, run through your work experience and pull out the relevant experiences you want to talk about. But don’t rehearse your answers too much. You want to sound confident and poised, not stilted. Trust me, recruiters and interviewers can tell when you’re droning out an answer you think they want to hear and have practiced a million times. No one wants to work with a robot, so have bullet points you want to bring up not full sentences you’ve memorized.
If the interviewer lobs a curveball question at you, take a deep breath. It’s OK to take a moment to collect your thoughts and then formulate an answer. It shouldn’t be expected that you have answers for every single question ready to go. Instead, the interview should be a conversation where you’re candidly discussing yourself and your experience.
Not having an answer at the ready shows an interviewer how well you think on your feet. Don’t correlate thinking about an answer with being unprepared. Think of it as a way to show the interviewer firsthand how you deal with a situation and overcome it quickly.
And the most important thing to remember is a company wants to hire a person. A person that has the necessary skills and experience, but also a personality that will mesh with the culture and team and will bring something special to the table. And if a company insinuates otherwise, it’s probably not one you want to work at anyway. Everyone makes mistakes, so if they can’t tolerate them in the beginning just imagine what it would be like to actually work there. That should be enough to encourage you to be as authentic as possible in your next interview.