It wasn’t very long ago that I was interviewing at Projectline (read the story of how I got my foot in the door here). Over the last several weeks though, I had the opportunity to sit on the other side of the conference table and participate in panel interviews for the newest member of our Campaign Desk.
It was a pleasure to be a part of the process, particularly in this much less stressful role as an interviewer, but it really got me thinking about the divide between what we bring to an interview as an applicant and what we bring to the office every day as employees once we’re hired. Even the most honest, genuine people know that it’s necessary to be strategic about how you present yourself when interviewing for a job. Weaknesses are downplayed and strengths are emphasized in order to make ourselves desirable and convey that we are, in fact, the perfect person to fill this position.
Let me be clear: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this practice. I do think, however, that we quickly forget that when we choose to emphasize certain skills or capabilities, we are making an unspoken commitment to bring those traits to the workplace if we’re hired. When a company begins its search for a new employee, chances are they’re looking for someone who can fill specific voids or provide expertise. So whether it’s the crazy-good Excel skills you promised would help with data analysis or the unfailingly positive attitude you touted as an asset to any workplace, you were brought on the team because you have a precise set of talents to offer. Here at Projectline, there’s a tremendous amount of energy put into hiring individuals who can really deliver for our clients, and so it’s especially important that those who are hired can not only meet, but also exceed, expectations.
All of this discussion begs the question: How do we go about bridging the gap between our interviewee self and our employee self? One of the most effective ways to do this is through accountability. For me, that means writing a blog and calling myself out on the promises I made to Projectline—I hyped my organizational skills and ability to build relationships with colleagues and clients alike as two of the main reasons I thought I’d be a strong hire. Now it’s my responsibility to prove that I wasn’t all talk. Another way to minimize the disconnect is to sit down with your manager, or whoever it was who hired you, and ask them point-blank what it was they saw in you that landed you your job. I was surprised to learn that a specific piece of my work history was perceived as being extremely relevant to my current role; now that I know this, I make a point to draw on that experience whenever possible.
Whether you’ve been at your job for only a short time or for what seems like a lifetime, there’s value in looking back at who you were on the day of your interview. Chances are, you looked sharp and felt enthusiastic. You’re still that person.