Be Yourself in an Interview – It Will Pay Off
April 26, 2016
Just four and a half short months ago, I was starting my final month of grad school, and I had no idea what I was doing after graduation. Fear was starting to set in as I had attended a few interviews with various firms in Atlanta and nothing seemed to stick. It didn’t help that I went into the interviews as a nervous mess, with the notion set in my mind that I was a “terrible interviewee,” stumbling over words as I did my best to impress the representative of whichever firm was across the table from me. This approach likely gave the impression that I was insincere and just desperate to get hired. While that wasn’t an entirely inaccurate assessment (it was getting late in the game and I was getting desperate), I knew that if a firm just gave me a chance, I would excel (no pun intended)!
Enter PKM, a firm that had just started recruiting out of my school (Georgia College), and one that I had set in my mind was “out of my league.” Nonetheless, they offered me an interview in the first weeks of December: a preliminary phone interview, and then an on-site interview a week later. I decided to try a different approach this time; I was going to be myself. No tricks, no nervous stuttering, and no heavy self-promotion. I went into the interview and immediately went to lunch with two members of the audit team: guys I would be working closely with if I got the job. It was extremely laid-back, as this was a chance to get to know my possible future coworkers, and for them to get to know me as well. After lunch, I had two separate sit-down interviews with partners. This is usually the part where I would crumble, as the thought of speaking to someone as experienced as a partner scared me. But I stuck to being myself, and it definitely paid off, as the interviews went very well and I got my offer letter a few days later. The entire process felt less like an interview and more like a casual conversation. I believe this is a big part of what sets PKM apart from other firms: their corporate culture is unrivaled in my opinion.
So if you’re still in college and you take anything from this post, make it this: Be genuine and honest in your interviews and it will pay off. If you try too hard to make yourself likeable and attractive to employers, they will see right through it and you likely will not get another interview. Just be yourself, and you will find the employer that is the best fit for you.