When you’re at an interview, it always feels like the stakes are high. Maybe you really want the job you’re applying for or maybe your interviewer seems intimidating. Due to these and other reasons, students often prepare extensively to succeed at their interviews and ace them. However, while you always want to present yourself in the best light, there is the risk of losing your personality or sense of self when you’re interviewing. Remember, it is always best to stay authentic during an interview.
The first step when preparing for your interview is to make sure that you don’t fully memorize answers to various and typical interview questions. Memorizing answers actually limits you, since the conversation will not be able to flow as well and you may come off robotic. Additionally, there’s no guarantee that interviewers will ask those specific questions or word them in the same way for which you memorized. Overpreparing in this way will remove your flexibility within the conversation and ability to pivot conversation as you see fit since you have memorized, static answers.
When you are at an interview, try not to embellish your accomplishments. Definitely include personal anecdotes of relevant experiences whenever you can, and while it is a great idea to polish your responses so that you know what to focus on, keep your answers to experiences that you have actually had. Make sure that the accomplishments you mention are credible and that, if needed, you can prove them or discuss them in greater detail. By drastically changing aspects of your personality or embellishing your resume, there is a chance you get caught later on for being dishonest, which is not good for your professional reputation.
Do not be afraid to make appropriate jokes and develop relationships during your interview through small talk. Of course, you will not be the same self that you are with friends. But by changing your personality during an interview, you are setting yourself up to fail even if you do get the job. If you get hired based on a fake persona that your interviewer gets along with or that the company culture is looking for, you will have to try and keep that personality for the duration of your employment. This is not only undesirable but very difficult to do. You want your employer to like you as a candidate for you, not just your intense interview preparation. You also definitely want your personality and achievements to match the type of person the role and company are looking for, just to make sure it is a sustainable fit. For another extensive conversation on why to be yourself in job interviews, read this article.