In The Job Interview: Sell Your Best Self or Be Totally Transparent?

Moritz Kothe

This is a blog post by kununu CEO, Moritz Kothe.

 

In my capacity of building up kununu in the US, I have interviewed at least 200 people last year and looked at probably a thousand CVs. Most people tend to (at least try to) sell themselves the best and train for that, rather than being transparent. And when you look around you will find that there are articles day in and day out on how to best respond to interview questions and how to best sell yourself. I have yet to find one that puts an emphasis on being yourself, thus, this blog post.

My advice: Do not pretend to be somebody different than who you really are in the decision making phase of your Job Seeker Journey. Be yourself in interview situations and make sure to share your uniqueness with the company you interview at.

Being transparent will pay for itself when it comes to being interviewed for certain positions. Here is why:

5 good reasons to be yourself in a Job Interview:

  1. Pretending to be somebody different than who you are might work in the short run, but that equals effort continuously pretending to be somebody else. It will take a lot of your energy and I can assure you you will not be happy.
  2. Pretending to be somebody different will only work short term – in the long run companies will understand who you really are.
  3. Once the truth has come to the surface, companies and employees will “dance” around how to handle this situation. Unfortunately, most people managers are not trained to have difficult conversations and thus will most probably avoid talking with you about the mismatch between expectations and performance, but rather start talking about you.
  4. You will not be able to grow, because you will not be part of core discussions, core decisions and in case you are looking for promotions be assured that this will not happen.
  5. Ultimately your life will be terrible. You will not be happy in your job, you will take this unhappiness home and you will be a miserable person to be around with.

Here is my more conceptual approach to this:

The beginning of your Job Seeker Journey – the discovery phase
Whilst at the beginning of your journey of seeking a new opportunity, you’ll likely be looking for jobs that might fit your life on the likes of Monster.com. Indeed.com, Linkedin.com and Glassdoor.com. In parallel, companies will be looking at whether or not you could potentially be a fit for that respective position, all in hopes to find the right candidate that fits their life.

The way to showcase who you are at this point is in your CV, which should be submitted in a standard form. This is not the time to show how unique you are; it is the time to grab attention quickly and easily convey how you fit what they are looking for from a skills / experience perspective. In other words, it’s all about how you match expectations.

The important part of your Job Seeker Journey – the decision making phase (where it really matters)
The second step of your journey as a job seeker is the interview phase, where you have already qualified for being somebody that could potentially fit the open position you’ve applied to and you have also done your research about the employer on their career site on kununu.com.

In this stage, it is about finding the perfect match. It is about figuring out whether or not this can work in the long run.

If you are not good at Excel, don’t pretend differently. If all you know about Marketing is a book that you once saw in a bookstore, don’t pretend to be an expert. But also if you like training a basketball team in the early evenings, make sure to share that and make sure that can work with your new job. If having a quiet office environment is important to you, share that and make sure to ask if that is given or not.

Finding the right match

I can’t say this enough: it is about finding the perfect match – just like in real life when finding out who you want to spend your life with. Of course you have to shower and put your best shirt on when you go to the cafe or bar. And of course you will be judged by objective criteria, like the way you look. But before you get married you will be open about the fact that you rather like t-shirts and the other side will care more about who you are then what you are.

According to Inc Magazine, 69% of people even when unemployed would not take a job if the company has a bad reputation. It’s only fair to allow for companies to assess you in the same manner, for them to know whether the fit is mutual.

We give the same advice to companies when we talk about Employer Branding. There is no benefit in pretending to be somebody different, since people will find out. In the worst case, the employee will leave the company disappointed, share his / her experience on social platforms like kununu, and the recruiting process starts all over again. Focusing on honesty and the perfect match saves time and resources, and at the end makes a company more successful as well!

Nobody should have a miserable life – it is too short for that. We spend one third of our lives at work. The trick is to find a job that really fits.

At kununu, our aim is to empower people to choose the right place to work and create a better workplace for all. We strongly believe that the right fit can help lead to greater productivity and a stronger economy.

 

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Moritz Kothe is CEO of kununu and Senior Vice President International for XING AG. Prior to leading kununu’s U.S. expansion, Moritz helped to grow XING AG business from a 200 million dollar market cap to the billion dollar business it is today. He currently lives with his family in Boston, Massachusetts and is not only an avid runner, but a vocal supporter of the FC Bayem soccer team. Moritz is excited to add American sports to his hobbies in a city where sports teams abound! Connect with Moritz on LinkedIn