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Ace your job interview by embracing honesty

Updated: Aug 22, 2023

The time I didn't get the job

Truth written on old fashioned typewriter
Embracing Honesty

We've all been there—the disappointment of a job rejection and the left over questions of what went wrong. In my case, the feedback I received was unexpected: I was told that the interviewer thought that I was "too honest" with my interview responses. As I reflected on that feedback, I realized that there were a few key moments during the interview where I chose not to beat around the bush. One question touched on my weaknesses, while another explored my strengths. In both cases, I answered with unwavering honesty.

Honesty on Weaknesses

When asked about my weaknesses, I openly admitted that a few years ago I had received feedback regarding my financial analytics skills. It was an area that needed improvement, so I took the initiative to seek training and enhance my ability to read and interpret balance sheets and financial statements. Instead of trying to hide or downplay my weaknesses, I acknowledged them and demonstrated my commitment to growth and self-improvement. Perhaps I should have opted for the, "I work too hard," option?

Embracing Strengths

On the topic of strengths, I confidently asserted that I had the ability to figure out anything given enough time and a problem to solve. While the interviewer might have viewed this as an overly bold claim, it was a genuine reflection of my problem-solving mindset and determination to overcome challenges. I believe in my ability to adapt and learn, and I conveyed that belief without reservation.

Self-Reflection and Second Guessing

Initially, I beat myself up over the rejection. I wondered if I had come across as too cocky or if I hadn't shown enough deference. I struggled to make sense of it all, considering it was a great job opportunity with a higher title and salary. It took a while. But eventually, I became kinder to myself. If the reason for the rejection was indeed my honesty, then perhaps it was a blessing in disguise. I realized that conforming to a workplace where I couldn't be true to myself would only lead to constant self-doubt and walking on eggshells.

Advice for Authentic Interviewing

Today, as I share insights on social media, I receive numerous questions about interview strategies and the best way to answer specific questions. My advice is simple: if you're simply looking for any job to pay the bills (and no judgement there!), following conventional advice from so-called "experts" might be necessary. However, if you aspire to build a fulfilling career—one that aligns with both your financial needs and personal growth—then embrace your true nature.

Ace the job interview by being true

In the end, I have come to believe choosing to answer interview questions with truth and authenticity will yield better outcomes in the long run. You may want to ace the job interview in the short run but you have to ask yourself what you will be giving up. But in the long run, you will be free of anxiety and stress if you can be genuine and share your experiences, strengths, and areas for improvement. We have to remember that the question is about fit—where we can be truthful and flourish, and bring our best performance.

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