Those of you who have worked with us know that we always emphasize one key approach to interviews. We always say, be yourself. Be your best self but be yourself. Don’t try to be what you think the interviewer wants. You don’t really know what they want. You could lose the opportunity because they perceive you to be wrong for the role, when you may be an ideal candidate. Perhaps a worse outcome, you could get the job because they think you are something you are not. That’s undoubtably a set up for failure on your part and disappointment for the hiring manager. Fit can be the key to building a successful career in an organization. That advice has always been based on common sense and instinct from so many years of recruiting.
On June 13, 2020, The Wall Street Journal published an article by Francesca Gino, a Harvard Business School professor, called The Surprising Strategy for Acing the Job Interview that backs up this advice with an academic study. Gino argues that interviewees become anxious when trying to present themselves as someone other than who they are, which negatively affects their performance. She also points to the interviewees inability to know exactly what the interviewer is looking for.
This does not preclude doing extensive research to prepare for the interview. However, once that preparation has been completed, presenting the best version of yourself will yield the best outcome.