The authentic voice when interviewing

The authentic voice.

Companies want to hear it from candidates when interviewing, and candidates always need to think about finding their cadence in an interview.

But what does an “authentic voice” really mean within in a corporate setting, whether interviewing or maneuvering through the organisation?

Authenticity often radiates from comfort–borne by repetition; confidence in knowing what you do well; and not putting all one’s eggs in one basket. With those three factors–experience (repetition), confidence (where you best fit), relaxation (having options) a more authentic voice will usually surface.

A friend who now works for a well-branded and rather hard-charging MNC shared such a story when she first interviewed with them.

Sitting alone in one of the conference rooms, people came in and out to interview her. One man came in, plunked himself down in the chair, and said, “Hi, I’m Joe.”

She looked over her schedule and didn’t see Joe’s name. Since he was sitting across from her, and while she didn’t know he was, assumed he must be there for a reason.

Joe told her how busy he was, and talked almost non-stop about the projects he was working on, did not ask her one question about herself. She thought it a bit odd, but quite enjoyed the chat, they bantered back and forth in what she recalled was an engaging exchange.

After a while, Joe left, and next was Jim.

“Was Joe just in here?” he asked her.

“Yes,” she replied, “Quite a nice guy, but who is he? His name wasn’t on my list”

“Oh. Joe’s the Chairman for Asia.”

Her heart sank, and while she had a good and open talk with Jim, couldn’t stop thinking about how she had failed her interview with Joe, aka Chairman.

She finished the interviews, went home, and replayed how she should have spoken to him differently, what she should have said, ad nauseam.

The coda was that the position was offered to her, and she is still with the company.

In recounting the story, she was emphatic that had Joe’s name and title been known earlier, she would probably not have had her authentic voice, nor the same degree of ease; it would have been her, but not the authentic her.

So when you go in to interview, remember to be clear and confident in what you do well, know where you would [likely] fit best, and do not obsess about one opportunity only. Most interviewers want to have an engaging talk, not a Q&A, regardless of the level of seniority. And the more you know where you’re headed, the greater the likelihood of a dialogue, not a cross examination.

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