With more than 20 years of executive-search consulting experience, Cheryl Hyatt has been responsible for successfully recruiting senior-administrative professionals for educational and non-profit organizations.
In other words Hyatt — a founding partner at Hyatt-Fennell Executive Search in Conway, Pa., — has seen and heard practically everything when it comes to job interviews. She understands the desire job seekers have to bend themselves into knots, trying to figure out what people want to hear. But she strongly believes that’s the wrong move.
Even if that would land you an interview — or even a job offer — it will not yield a long-term match, Hyatt said. While organizations do want someone who can fulfill the job duties, they ultimately desire someone who can inhabit and expand a role.
To Hyatt, the interview process involves learning about each other and seeing if your experience and identity are a good fit for their needs and trajectory. Moreover, with the advancing use of technology in the hiring process, it is even more important to have that one-on-one connection.
“At the beginning stages, having an email exchange is fine. But talking on the telephone is better – you can chat and it is more personal,” Hyatt said. “Ultimately, you want to be able to look at one another. That can happen with a video conference because it allows you to see one another and understand more clearly what someone is saying.
“A head nod. A smile on the face. Body language. It all tells a story. And you can tell your story better that way,” Hyatt added. “You want to meet with the hiring manager if you can.”
Here are Hyatt’s top three tips to present your authentic self in an interview.
Tell your story. When answering questions, don’t give canned abstract answers. Use real situations to fill out who you are and how you approach problems.
Share your values. Your interviewers don’t just want to understand what you do, but why you do it. Explain your motivation and goals as you discuss your approach. Show them how your priorities align with their vision.
Connect. Authenticity is about a genuine interaction between two people. Don’t be so focused on presenting your true self that you forget about your interviewer. Shake their hand. Look them in the eye. Actively listen when they talk.