I’ll get the cliché part out of the way: Always be yourself in front of a prospective employer.
There’s a reason our teachers, advisors, moms will all remind us to do so. Take it to heart, but don’t let it lock you in to a rigid behavior pattern.
Slight adjustments to how you act during an interview, even some that may seem unnatural based on your own personality, can be very helpful.
The ultimate goal, of course, is to get a job offer. This can be accomplished in part by accommodating to the type of person who is conducting the interview.
While crucial to the strength of a candidate’s application, past experience will not be the only thing taken into account by hirers as they make their decisions.
They are looking add people whose personalities fit well within their workplaces. Therefore, it is useful to gauge the way the interviewer carries himself/herself in the interview, since it will be your best indicator of the typical personality type of that workplace.
If you immediately notice that your interviewer is reserved, quiet, or even a bit nervous (not uncommon), reciprocation with over-enthusiasm may not be your best move. If the interviewer is not the type of person to match this type of eagerness, such a drastic range in personalities can create an uncomfortable tension between the two parties. Instead, a more lucrative approach to take as an interviewee would be to show a strong interest in the position without blatantly over-doing it. This can be done by asking questions of the interviewer which demonstrate your prior preparation, and thoroughly answering the questions asked of you. Emulate the volume and pace at which the interviewer speaks as you do this, in order to ensure a more fluid conversation.
On the other hand, if you have a particularly peppy or upbeat interviewer, attempt to openly share that level of enthusiasm. Smile, sit up straight, and raise your voice (not to a shout, obviously). Like I said, you will be assessed by how well you would mesh into that specific workplace. Employers will be preferential towards applicants whose personality lines up with those of current employees as well as their own (amongst several other factors).
The key to this idea is balance.
Avoid the extremes – over-enthusiasm and apathy. Use your gut during the interview. If you sense that you are coming on a little strong by the reactions of the interviewer, bring it back a bit. If you believe your interviewer is more eager to be there than you are, visibly step up your interest level. Do your very best to accommodate the personality type of your interviewer in how you act, as it can favorably separate you from another candidate who may have a comparable resume.
About the Author:
Ryan Kelly is a Health Science major in his fourth year at Northeastern University. His internship experience includes settings in academic research as well as a contract research organization.