The Balance Between Who You Are and Who They Want You To Be

January 15 2018  By: Nikki Vivian

When you’re faced with an interview to prepare for, you know that first impressions count for a lot. You need to impress with your answers, but you also need to make your mark on a personal level too. Your interviewer will be looking at you in terms of whether you will fit in with the organisation, whether you would gel with the team and whether your values are right for them.

Whilst excellent answers to the interview questions are obviously paramount, you are also being assessed on personality and attitude, whether it is intentional or not. So, how do you make sure you’re likeable, professional and still yourself?

Much of the advice you will receive will be to dress smartly and behave in a professional manner. Goes without saying right? Sometimes this kind of thinking though can mean we are in danger of turning into impersonal suit wearing robots. For me, there is a fine line between being professional and losing your identity.

What to wear

Yes, make sure you are professionally dressed. What you wear will depend entirely on the job you’re going for, but the general rule is be smart and it’s better to over dress than under dress. However, you can be professionally dressed and still let your personality come across. Does professional mean you have to be from head to toe in black and white? If you’re the sort of person who is usually dressed in bright colours, mix some in. Little pops of colour will not make you look any less professional and if it makes you feel more like yourself, you’ll feel more confident too. Coloured shoes were always an interview staple for me and made me feel like I was revealing a bit about myself.

Body language

Body language gives so much away. Just like if you’re nervous, if you’re trying to fit into a persona that really isn’t you, it will show in your body language. Don’t hide who you are, be yourself and you will appear more confident and able than if you’re trying to be something you’re not. Yes, make sure you act in a way that is appropriate, but don’t hide your personality. You will be able to read a situation and know how you are supposed to behave but just make sure you are still you.

What you say

Adopt a tone and manner that is appropriate to your situation but don’t be stone faced and serious because ‘it’s an interview’. I’m not saying you should be making wild jokes but it’s ok to smile, talk in a conversational manner and maybe even to add in some mild humour if that’s you. Don’t forget, your interviewer is a person too and people buy from people. An interview is essentially a sales pitch for you.

Take home

At the end of the day, it’s important to do everything you can to get the job, but don’t fall into the trap of pretending to be someone you’re not. Being authentic and honest is the best way to get people to like you because they will be able to relate to you. It is possible to be professional and still let your personality shine through.



  1. Joan February 6, 2018 at 3:04 pm

    I was terrible at interviews, for years. I would get so nervous my teeth would chatter! One time I even told the interviewer to please not hire me “just to be nice”! I was stiff, and robotic, and now that I’m reading this post, I’m realizing that I was trying to be someone else. And I’m not a great actor, apparently. At my last interview, for some reason, I felt way more confident, and I was just myself. I smiled, I joked a little, I chatted. I felt like me. And I got that job! Being ourselves isn’t advice we usually hear before an interview, but I know first-hand how important it is!

    • NikkiVivian February 15, 2018 at 11:17 am

      Thanks for your comment Joan. Sometimes its easy to panic and think to hard about how we should be acting instead of being ourselves. Once I was really nervous about an interview and on the way my trouser button came off. I was so nervous about my trousers falling down that I forgot about being nervous about what they would think of me. As I result I was totally myself and more at ease as a result. Needless to say, I got the job.

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