Striking a Balance in Your Job Interview

The job search is hard, especially the interview process. If you're feeling down because you've interviewed multiple times and still haven't gotten an offer, think of it this way - you didn't receive a marriage proposal after every date.

In the hiring process, a good deal of subjective judgment goes on, much like dating or starting a new friendship. You have to get to know the company, and the company has to get to know you. Usually, this is done by asking questions and telling each other “stories” about your past -  but it doesn’t feel that way because you feel put on the spot and judged.

In every job interview, there are certain things that you can control and certain things that are out of your control. There are two basic questions behind every interview - online job interview or face to face:
1. “Can he/she do the job?”
2. “Do we like him/her – is he/she going to fit in?”

While interviewing you should also be screening the company as a place to work. Do you like your interviewers? Are they the type of people you would like to work with/for? Because the interview is a “getting to know you” process, it's important to strike a balance between being true to yourself, and behaving professionally.

Here are three big balancing acts that every interviewer has to face:

1. Arrogant or confident?
This one is hard - what one person sees as confident professionalism, another may see as arrogance. Generally, the best mind-set to go to an interview with is that of a “consultant.” This company has a problem and you are there to find out what it is. You will then let them know you heard and understand the problem and have the solution to their problem, if you have one. Show them that you can fix their problem, and do the work they need to have done.

2. How much honesty?
Being too honest and showing all your cards too soon can be deeply damaging. For example, when the interviewer asks you about weaknesses, talk about something that you are working on improving or changing - stay away from potential personality problems. Think of something that you would like to do better: be a better speaker, be more patient with people who don’t pull their weight, be more selective when you take on more assignments, etc, and then sandwich it: start with a positive statement; slip in the negative (weakness), and then tell how you are working on improving that trait.

3. Calm or excited?
Knowing how much enthusiasm to show can be very tricky. Much like arrogant vs. confident, different people will interpret your behavior differently.
Be enthusiastic, but don't brag or gush. Let your enthusiasm shine when you ask questions - show that you've researched the company and really understand (or want to understand) their industry or problems.

If you are the “right person” for the job the interviewers will overlook a lot of other differences or shortcomings. Just be balanced when you sit in the interview chair and control what you can control. Prepare for the interview as much as you can, and let go of all the little things you can't control. Focus on being confident, appropriately candid, and calmly passionate about the job. That way, you're sure to shine.

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