My Career Coaching clients are not only young people trying to figure out what they should be doing with the rest of their lives.

In fact, almost all my clients are older than 30 and, for various reasons, at crossroads.

In this blog, we unpack an issue that has been on my mind for a long time. Whether you are in a current job and applying for a new one and/or unemployed and need to reset, at some stage you are going to be looking for available jobs and possibly having an interview.

If you’ve ever searched the employment pages, you’ll know it is a daunting task which nobody really prepares you for.

Let’s break the thought process down a little.

As someone who have done many interviews over the years with people so desperate that they will take any kind of job available,  I want to ask you  to be truthful with yourself and the new company from the beginning.

Ask yourself why are you applying for this particular job?

  1. Do you have the knowledge and skills to do the job. If you do, great. If you don’t, what skills do you need to learn if this is your dream job?
  2. Do you really want this job or is it just something that is comfortable and a pay-check. You should be challenged, excited and having fun while still having challenges that allows you to grow.
  3. Will the job give you what you need to be fulfilled?
  4. Will the company value your values?

A big piece of applying for new jobs is the interview process and this is where the water really gets muddy.

I hear clients telling me how they prepare for their interviews. It’s fantastic that you take the time to do all this preparation. A lot of people don’t and it could very well be the reason why you get the job.

Preparing is a good thing, it helps calm anxiety, it helps you focus, and you look professional when you know something about the company and what they stand for.

But often what happens is that you want the job so desperately that you force yourself into that space, like putting on a pair of ill-fitting shoes.

Telling the interviewer what you think they want to hear is fruitless as:

  1. You’re guessing what they really want and
  2. You’re not being your true self.

The reality is that you don’t know what/who they want and the honesty, vulnerability and the real you that you are hiding under intended professionalism might be the very thing that they are looking for. If you don’t show that, you might both lose out on what could be a beautiful partnership.

Putting your real self out there is scary and uncomfortable. We worry about what people might think of us and that we are “not good enough”. So we don’t do it, we show our harsh, business side and not our soft underbellies.

Years ago, Marius and I worked at a Game Lodge that was just plain horrible. We each thought that the other wanted to be there and instead of being honest with ourselves and each other we were trying to make it work while we were both intensely unhappy.

Then we got an interview at another lodge. Halfway through, the Owner of the new lodge who was interviewing us, sat back laughing and said “I feel like I’m being interviewed”. Unconsciously we had both learnt what we didn’t want and were peppering him to make sure we were clear on what we were getting into.

Without being arrogant, the questions to ask yourself is:

Do they deserve me and Do I fit here?

If you have the knowledge, you can do the job, do you fit into what the company stands for and how they do things?

So what to do?

  1. When you are interviewing for a job, part of your research needs to be to see if you might fit. Skills can be learnt but company culture is much harder to change. This means you will need to fit in with them and not the other way around.
  2. Don’t be hesitant to express what is important to you in both your professional and private life. Boundaries are critical to our mental health.
  3. Remember that if you get offered the job, it doesn’t mean you must take it. The interview is for both of the parties to see if there is synergy. If something bugs you, don’t do it.
  4. If you show your true self and you don’t get the job, understand that you didn’t fail to get the job. You simply didn’t fit the interviewers’ criteria. This is in fact something to be grateful for, as it means you don’t need to go through the heartache and pain of trying to fit into a place you shouldn’t have been in the first place.
  5. Remember to hold people accountable. If they, for instance, promise during the interview there will be training provided, ask more detail about it. So many clients end up in a devastating situation when they are struggling with the demands of the job for which they didn’t get the promised training.
  6. Don’t make assumptions. Ask the questions to make sure you know what you’re getting into. I took a job once thinking I was going to be a Front of House in Reception, just to get to the lodge, in the middle of nowhere, where I’m expected as the Front of House in the Restaurant. The only discussion during the interview was when I was asked if I could run a restaurant, to which I said I’d never done it by myself. That job nearly broke me.

Of course, we all have responsibilities, and you need a job to pay for those responsibilities. You also shouldn’t shy away from challenges that are uncomfortable because this is where you grow.

But go into this with your eyes open and a plan.

We spend more than half our waking hours at work. It makes less than no sense to waste that time in a job or at a place that you hate or don’t fit and yet we have all been there at some stage in our lives.

You deserve to be happy in your job. Fight for that happiness, it’s totally worth it!