Is Truly Being Yourself a Mistake in an Interview?

Nancy Anderson
Posted by

An awkward job interview can sink your chances of landing the job, even if you prepare for a week, rehearse your responses and fit in with the company culture. One key to a great experience is being yourself, because your unique personality stands out from everyone else's. The company already likes your hard skills and experience at this point, so your frank honesty might be better than giving standard answers to questions.

Consider the story of Andy Paul, bestselling author of "Zero Time Selling" and host of the Accelerate! podcast. When he first graduated college, his sales training leaders told Paul he was too introverted and not salesy enough for a career in sales. Despite this, he went to his first job interview for a sales position a couple of years out of college as he prepared to jumpstart his career.

Paul's interview lasted one question. He felt as if he failed miserably because he found himself at the wrong end of an unexpected question. The job revolved around selling mini-computers to small businesses. The person conducting the job interview asked Paul a question about accounting. The future author didn't know the answer. After a few moments of thinking and trying to come up with an answer, he told the interviewer he was sorry and that the answer escaped him. He requested that he find the answer and get back with the interviewer tomorrow with the correct answer.

At this point, the person interviewing Paul gets up and leaves the room. Thinking he tanked completely, Paul felt devastated because nervousness got the better of him. After 15 minutes, the office manager and the interviewer's boss comes into the room and says "You're hired." Surprised, it took a while before Paul figured out why the job interview went well.

Being Yourself

Honesty won the day for this future author. This situation occurred in the mid-1980s just as Paul was starting his career. The service-oriented company, now called Unisys, valued honesty and integrity among its sales staff. The company regularly tells its employees that if you don't know the answer, assure the customer that you research the question thoroughly and then get back to the person with the right answer. Instead of making up an answer just to placate someone in the moment, Paul's manager and the office manager believed he fit in with the company culture of personal integrity.

Integrity and honesty go beyond just giving answers to job interview questions that fit your personality. Show your passion for the position and let your personality exude confidence that you own this position. Don't be afraid to explain your career plans, why you love this job and why you're the perfect fit. Your enthusiasm should be evident, and that says a lot about what you bring to the employer.

A job interview is your chance to shine. When you're honest about your skills and personality, it shows, and interviewers remember you. This means you stand out from the crowd and increase your chances of landing your dream job. Honesty isn't a mistake. It makes a great first impression.

Photo courtesy of Ambro at


Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

  • Timothy E.
    Timothy E.

    Only when the hiring manager know honest is the best policy, or not lying on Kronos websites. Right! And most don't know this. I worry about how they got their positions. If you don't you may have the same problem. Anyway it is what it is.

Jobs to Watch