You can have the tightest resume and the most impressive work history, but if you come across as awkward or unpleasant in a job interview, you’ll hurt your chances. For this reason, it might help to think of it as a performance.
Joe Raedle / Getty images
Over at Harvard Business Review, author Cathy Salit explains:
Yes, performance, the theatrical kind. Just as an actor prepares the character they will play on stage or screen, you can steal some tricks from the actor’s toolbox to prepare the character you will play in the interview. For this kind of scene, you’ll need to exude confidence, competence, likability, flexibility, and more. How to do this in a high-stakes situation? Tap into your natural ability to imagine and pretend — and craft your character.
This might seem contradictory to the advice that you should “just be your authentic self“. Salit makes a good point, though. By sticking to the story of who you think you are, you could be holding yourself back from growing or adopting new skills.
For example, I told myself I was a shy, socially awkward person for years. And for years, I behaved like a shy, socially awkward person. After a while, though, I got tired of that story and tried to exude a little more confidence to help get more freelance clients, network with other writers, and negotiate. At first, it really did feel like an inauthentic performance, but after a while, confidence came naturally.
Self-esteem and self-confidence seem like pretty much the same thing, but they're not. For example, maybe you can easily get in front of a crowd, give a speech, and command a room, which shows self-confidence, but at the same time, you feel like crap about your own public speaking, which is a lack of self-esteem.Read more
This can be difficult, though, so Salit suggests making a list of the qualities you should convey as a successful candidate for that particular job. It might be leadership abilities or curiosity or problem-solving skills. From there, you want to practise. Rehearse your job interview with a friend and make sure to convey those qualities. The more comfortable you get with your role, the more natural you’ll come across in the interview.