They May Not Be Ready For All of You Just Yet

woman interviewed by twoOne point that I make repeatedly when talking about resumes in incorporating your voice to make sure the reader gets a good feel for you as a person.  It helps build confidence in the reader and your credibility when the person on paper and the person on the other end of the phone or across the table “match”.


To a degree.


Let’s face it, some of us have strong personalities.  I feel I can include myself in this category considering just last night my nephew and his best friend both told me I was “fierce” and I can easily scare people.


Yes, it was a compliment.


I am a pretty passionate person, this I know, and I am okay with it; however, I do realize that it doesn’t always translate well.  When I was in the financial industry I once had a boss tell me that everyone knew I always had their back but they also know when I was not happy with something.  I’m learning to temper.


When I give workshops I can get very motivated and enthusiastic about my topic and in engaging the audience.  I love what I do, I’m good at what I do and a big part of who I am is to help others as much as I possibly can.  This translates to passion – or fierceness.


Sometimes it is a little overwhelming.  This is where tempering comes into play.  I realize I cannot just start off all BAM here we go!  I need to set the foundation, bring in the audience and build engagement and then lead them to finding out just what they need and provide the information in a way that is direct, understandable and easy to incorporate.


It is the same during interviewing.  You may be the leading expert at what you do; however, you have to build engagement otherwise you will overpower the interviewer.  In other words start off toned down a bit.


Let them take the lead in asking the questions, know what is important to the company and the position and be prepared to establish a connection, build the engagement and then you can bring out the expertise.  But remember, still keep tempered.


Strong personalities are fine, they help lead, direct, originate, create and encourage.  They can also come across as too strong, tunnel vision, unyielding or unwilling to listen to others.  Temper, temper, temper.


I’m not at all advocating to be someone you are not or to be meek during an interview.  That will just cause all sorts of problems down the road when the “real” you shows up on the job – you will freak them out.  Let them see your confidence and passion without beating them over the head with it – that’s what I am saying.


One of the hardest things to do is to reign yourself in when you are very excited about something; but it is critical during interviewing.  Being too passionate may be more than they can handle; however, not being true to yourself will feel uncomfortable.


Here are a couple of things you can do during interviewing to help you keep tempered:


Take a breath.  When you are asked a question, pause, take a breath, release, relax then answer.  It will force you to slow down and think a bit before you answer.  This will prevent you from rushing right in and taking charge.


Poke yourself.  Not in a weird noticeable way.  I place my thumbnail on the tip of my first finger and apply slight pressure.  When I start to get excited to answer something and want to jump right in I find that I push a little harder.  This gets my attention and reminds me to calm down and slow down.


The world does not revolve around you.  When answering questions you want to remember that no matter what the circumstances, there was a supporting cast.  Whether that be a team, your boss or your clients – but there were others involved.  Be sure to include them so you don’t look like a wonder-person know it all do it all.


Engage.  You are sitting across from the table from or on the other end of the line from a real person.  Make sure to engage them during the interview.  Ask clarifying questions during the interview and follow up questions at the end.  They probably hate interviewing (most people do) so realizing they are a person who is taking time out of their day to spend time with you will help keep perspective.


This actually goes for all the people you interact with during the interview process.  The receptionist who greeted you, an assistant that brought you back to the office and the actual interviewer.  Be respectful, considerate and kind to all.  They each are giving you individual time which could very well be better spent doing, oh, I don’t know, company things.


Jump back on the tracks.  If, or when, you find yourself jumping off the tracks on a passionate rampage about a topic immediately stop when you recognize it.  Smile, let them know that you are very zealous (or whatever word you are comfortable using) about the topic and then let them know you are going back to topic and do it.  Then shut up.  Don’t try to cover up the blazing trail you just made off topic, let it go.


In both interviews and workshops I have found myself clear off topic.  My clue is normally the looks from others, a combination of little fearful and confused.  It is at this time that I literally say out loud with a smile, “Wow, I have no idea how I got here, but let me get back.” Then jump right back on the train.  Once we are back on track the strange little side trip is pretty much forgotten.


If you are at the interview stage that means that they pretty much know that your skill set is a match, now they want to see if you personally are a match for the job, company and team.  It is natural to want to impress but just remember to temper that enthusiasm.  If your voice was been represented in your resume then you are going to be fine.  Just relax, tone it down a little if you are a fellow fierce and let your natural self come through.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.


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