The Maneuver Effect
Have you ever wondered why some job applicants seem to struggle consistently with interviewing for jobs, while others appear to breeze right through it like it was nothing? It almost seems unfair to me the number of times I have personally watched eager job seekers navigate their way through the mucky waters of the interview process without so much as a paddle to use for support.
As a recruiter who has been in this business for many years, I have conducted and been present at more interviews than I can count. I have witnessed total breakdowns of otherwise seemingly confident applicants and I have been privy to unassuming total rockstars flawlessly knock it out of the ballpark. What is the difference between these two people? And how can a job seeker use this insight to help them gain viable employment in the future? In this piece, I will attempt to convey what I believe is the secret to not only successfully interviewing but landing your dream job in the process.
Let’s face it, applying for a new job and all its complexities can be nothing short of maddening. Having to take all the skills obtained in one’s lifetime, sum it up on a piece of paper, and then succinctly recite it back to a hiring manager is no easy task. The interview is perhaps the worst part. Although it is never said, the reality is that everything you say and do is being evaluated with a fine-tooth comb.
A good hiring manager will do their best to help alleviate this pressure, but a less than seasoned one can make you feel like hiding in a dark corner. Unfortunately, you cannot hide or run away screaming and you must be able to execute seamlessly, regardless of the personalities of those in front of you. One area that people can struggle with is their ability to effectively communicate their experience while being authentic at the same time.
I have watched people go one of two ways, total robot, or best friend with questionable boundaries. The robot applicant believes that they must stay extremely professional to be seen as a good fit for the role. They answer the questions as if they are taking a test and might get an answer wrong. While this approach is noble, it leaves the interviewer without a clear sense of the applicant’s identity or personality. Thus, making it hard to assess the probability of the applicant being able to mesh well with the team and company culture.
The flip side of this is the best friend with no boundaries. This applicant talks too much about personal things quickly and easily. Most likely this is coming from a place of anxiety and wanting to connect but inevitably this approach will scare the interviewer and leave them feeling worried that they might create an unstable work environment. The threat of damaging the reputation of the company is far too risky, and consequently they will not get hired.
The applicant that succeeds in the interview and wins the job has something that I like to call, “the maneuver effect.” They understand the importance of being themselves authentically but can professionally respond artfully to a multitude of questions. Like a boxer bobbing and weaving through uncharted territory, they know when to move and when to get out of the way.
They are confident but not arrogant, yet genuine and professional at the same time. They ask thoughtful questions and actively listen to the given responses and don’t feel afraid to show a little bit of personality in the process. This person is likeable AND professional thus employers feel confident in their ability to thrive.
In short, be yourself and let your personality shine through while interviewing for your next position. Try not to let your nerves get the best of you and make you feel afraid to be human. People want to work with those they feel connected to, plain and simple. Don’t go overboard and start sharing so much that your coworkers feel you have no concept of boundaries, however. Stay presentable but yourself, so that the right opportunity will see you in this moment and offer you a chance to be a part of their own unique work culture.