Authenticity and Passion: The Two Most Important Keys to Every Job Search
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Authenticity and Passion: The Two Most Important Keys to Every Job Search

WHEN YOU'RE ON THE JOB HUNT, IT'S TEMPTING TO TELL INTERVIEWERS WHAT THEY WANT TO HEAR. WE ARGUE FOR AUTHENTICITY INSTEAD.

I thought the interview had gone flawlessly. I walked into that office confident, experienced, and ready for anything.

I was hoping to land an assistant role at a public relations firm. Their work was intriguing and I thought I’d be a great fit. My formal PR experience was limited to an internship with a well-known agency. Though it had been an extremely challenging experience, I learned a great deal. I felt confident that my PR experience would get my foot in the door with this firm. But they disagreed. After sending the signature follow-up email, I was quickly informed of their decision to pass on me.

I was surprised! I thought our conversation had gone well. Their reasoning: I didn’t actually aspire to work in public relations.

Related: How to Follow Your Gut—And Why You Always Should

I mentally backtracked through the interview. Of course, I hadn’t blatantly said that I didn’t want to work PR…but I didn’t make it clear that I did, either.

I kept it general: I spoke of my desire to learn, to grow as a professional, and to commit my best self to the role. I felt that those were the only things I could guarantee. And, although they are valuable aspirations, it was not the answer they were looking for.

I was not angered by their rejection, but more so frustrated that it came down to my giving a “right or wrong” answer. But rather than fall victim to the pitfalls of interviewing as a recent college graduate, I committed to two clear goals for the rest of my job hunt: I would remain authentic to my aspirations, and only allow passion to guide my job search. {Click to Tweet

REMAIN AUTHENTIC

Lauren McGoodwin, Founder of Career Contessa, recently shared four comments to avoid in an interview. The first was "don’t ever lie in an interview." Plain and simple.

In my interview, it would have been an easy to just say "I want to be a publicist when I grow up". That answer might have gotten me the job—but I would have been hired under false pretenses. I could "stretch" the truth, but even that would be a level of inauthenticity that would torment me.

Some might argue that my logic was naïve—"Just tell them what they want to hear!” But only by remaining authentic did I feel confident leaving that interview as confident as I’d felt entering it. 

Wendy Clark, President of Sparkling Brands & Strategic Marketing for Coca-Cola North America, spoke at the annual meeting for New York Women in Communications. She encouraged the women in the room to be their authentic selves: "We can either be a worse them or our best self.” {Click to Tweet} Her words resonated with me during the interview process and still resonate with me now.

"We can either be a worse them or our best self.”

Telling future employers that my goals were to learn and grow in the role I was interviewing for meant I was being honest, and more importantly, remaining true to myself. Although it made the interview process rigorous, I left each interview feeling validated by my efforts. 

Related: Don't Have a Job By Graduation? Here's What You Should Do. 

ALLOW PASSION TO PROPEL YOU

If getting a job meant that I needed to foresee my future at said company, then I'd have to find a place where I actually felt that way. Easier said than done, but I was fortunate enough to intern with a company that I actually aspired to work for.

I received an internship at HBO during my senior year of college. It was a life-changing experience from day one. I felt motivated, inspired, and nurtured—not to mention, I was interning for a reputable brand, the trend setters of the industry, and a world-renowned company.

As I interviewed for a full-time role, I let my passion for HBO translate throughout the conversation. Frankly, I spoke about the company to anyone who would listen. I knew that if I could stand behind HBO as a whole, my future there would be promising.

My final interview—my last shot to working full-time for this dream company—just happened to be the last day of my internship. There I spoke of my desire to grow as a professional and my passion for HBO. I’ve now worked there for over a year and I still feel that overwhelming passion and pride for the company. No matter where my career takes me, that will always remain.

As you move through the rigorous interview process, I urge you to remain authentic to where you want to work and the work that you want to do. It's always easy to tell people what they want to hear, but what will you tell yourself?

As you move through the rigorous interview process, I urge you to remain authentic to where you want to work and the work that you want to do.

Although difficult, make sure to zero in on your passions. Not only will that help you to speak honestly about your goals, but you’ll be able to flourish in a job you actually feel passionately about.

Related: How to Choose Your Purpose