Interview Prep 101: How to be vulnerable during a job interview

Written by Eleni Sakaj

Be vulnerable during a job interview... wait, what?!?

Let’s start off with some statements. Which of these feel true to you?

  • You feel insecure creating connections within a bigger group of people, therefore you prefer to not express your concerns or ideas. 
  • You avoid taking initiatives, as being in the spotlight is not your thing. 
  • Presentations? Terrifying.
  • Interviewing? Not comfortable.
  • The idea of making a mistake is scary and you consciously choose not to take the leap. 

All of these are symptoms of a root problem: an inability to make yourself vulnerable.

Just a couple of months ago, I finished the book “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown and for those of you that haven’t read it, you are in for a ride. One of the most important take-aways from that book is this: 

“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it's having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it's our greatest measure of courage.”

Living your life with vulnerability as a principle can feel intimidating and scary. It can feel highly confronting and not always comfortable. Acting from a place of vulnerability is:

  • Owning our story and not running away from it.
  • Loving the uncertainty of being exposed and showing that we are capable of learning.
  • Showing who you really are without being afraid of potential criticism because you are open to discovering new parts of yourself and tapping deeper into it.

How then can we make sure that we are creating a meaningful connection during a job interview when we have limited time to get comfortable enough to open up?

Seek to connect rather than impress

During an interview we of course want to impress others with our accomplishments and learnings but connecting in an informal way can make those achievements stand out even more. Show interest in the interviewer’s life: What gives them energy? What are the things they want to improve? What are their own proudest moments? Asking these questions shows your interest and compassion towards the interviewer(s) more than listing your compassionate qualities.

Approach the discussion in an authentic, transparent way

Shed the role that you are trying to play and appreciate the fact that you are meeting another human being with similar challenges, concerns, goals, and dreams. 

Admit what you don’t know and what you’re not great at doing

No one is perfect and your interviewer knows that. Everyone has room for improvement and we can all learn from each other. Before your interview, take some time for introspection and prepare to talk about those elements within yourself you are trying to work on.

Talk about your most significant failure, setback, or life-changing moment

Failures and how we deal with them shape who we are. Talking about them with a sense of maturity and development while focusing on your learnings gives another dimension of your personality.

At the end of the day, either in interviewing or your personal interactions, seeking real connections is a conscious effort of choosing to NOT hide your emotions or ideas from others.

Job interviews aren’t just about getting hired. They’re about getting hired at the right place. The best way to ensure you meet your goals (and not just the company’s) is to make certain you’re being open about who you are.

If you're an unemployed person living abroad and need support going through the job-seeking process including interviewing, you qualify for our free coaching sessions. Click here for more information.