Actually, these aren’t truly opposites. The real opposite of strategy is randomness, or carelessness, which sometimes comes wrapped in the flag of “just being real.”
Many job candidates fail to be strategic. They interview in an honest and straightforward way, but without really communicating a unique selling proposition. They haven’t thought through what their key messages are, or how to convey them convincingly. That can take a lot of preparation.
Let’s say one of your key messages is that you have exceptional communication skills. Just saying “I have great communication skills” is unconvincing. Instead, demonstrate those skills by planning key talking points and stories that provide evidence. For example, you could talk about:
- The time when you diplomatically sorted out a misunderstanding and kept a client from leaving.
- The fact that you were sought out to provide coaching or training to new hires – especially if you were the only member of the team tapped for that.
- The documentation you wrote that reduced service calls 50%.
Others don’t come across as being authentic. They give “right” answers that reflect what they believe the interviewer wants to hear, but sound over-rehearsed and make the interviewer wonder what they’re hiding. Often these messages are memorized, verbatim.
The best interview communication is savvy yet real.
Think through your statements carefully, but don’t memorize them. Write them out in advance, but not word-for-word, instead writing keyword outlines to practice from, so that you have to put the ideas into your own words.
It isn’t always easy to be authentic without inserting foot into mouth. But with careful preparation it can be done.
Let the interviewer see the best of who you really are.