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How to be the Real You in your next executive job interview

How to be the real you in your job interview

Job Interview coming up soon? Remember to bring ‘you’ to the party!

If you don’t adequately prepare for an interview, you only have yourself to blame if you don’t get the job!

Ever heard advice like that? In most cases, the advice is well-meant, but ultimately flawed.

Preparation for any senior level executive role should be comprehensive there’s no doubt; company accounts research, value proposition, competitor knowledge, ideas for improving processes, and knowing what you’re going to say to the question ‘Tell me about yourself?’

However, I have known more than one candidate engaged in a job search to come unstuck at the interview by over preparation. What do I mean by over preparation and why can it be dangerous? Of course, I don’t mean not to prepare for an interview and to do better informed research than your competitors for the role might be doing.

What I’m driving at is to ask you to remember to bring yourself to the interview.

There is a danger that while focussing on remembering various facts and figures that you’re as a result so tense that your personality doesn’t get a chance to shine through. You may have heard an old marketing adage that in order for someone to buy from you they must know, like and trust you?

Transfer this analogy for a moment to the job interview process. So your first few seconds should be totally focussed on rapport building. Despite the (necessary) preparation for the job interview, what three main questions any interviewer is asking are – Do I like him/her? Can they do the job? Will they fit in? This area of soft skills and emotional intelligence is a crucial element to any business relationship and certainly plays out in the job interview context more than you might think.

Calm yourself

Some people suffer with nerves prior to an interview and others actively enjoy the experience. If you’re one of those who feels anxious however that manifests (sweaty palms, talking too fast, shuffling about in your seat), I’d like to offer a quick tip to help you to relax. Just before the interview find a quiet spot and take time to perform half a dozen deep breaths. Long, slow, even breaths are key here, and this process will change your body physiology and will help you to relax. It might help to practice this before your interview; click here to download a balanced breathing pacer mp3.


Imagine yourself already in that role doing a great job from day to day. ‘See’ your colleagues, daily interactions, meetings, all in real vivid colour. Notice how confident you feel in your role and what people might say about the improvements you’ve already made. This will put you in the mind set of already having the job.

Don’t be ‘Grey’

This is about personality, individuality, ensuring you’re authenticity shines through. Bringing your authentic self to the table is an incredibly powerful tool; whether you’re an extrovert or more introverted, we all have individuality that can be more memorable than other aspects of an interview, from the interviewer’s perspective.

Be aware of your blind Spots

How long has it been since you sought the opinion of others regarding your strengths, weaknesses, and generally how you come across to others? An interesting exercise can be to think of yourself in nouns, e.g. leader, motivator, collaborator etc. These also help you to form the core of a compelling and genuine personal brand by the way. Now extend this idea to your immediate close circle of friends and family. Ask them to write down a few nouns to describe you and see how their views match (or not) to your own perceptions of yourself. It can be quite an eye-opener to undertake this exercise.

The recruiters know

In our recent independent recruiter / candidate research (you can grab the report findings here) one of the factors that recruiters cited re how they viewed senior level candidates was that the more successful candidates were the ones who were more self-aware.

So as part of any preparation, I advise you to take the time to remember who you are and bring yourself to the interview. Know the facts and figures of course, but remember to let your personality shine through. It will pay off.

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