Authenticity in the interview: How open should applicants be?

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It gave up some time ago Best of HR –® an exciting discussion: the topic was that HR Putting applicants in drawers too quickly - and that they should also have the courage to show more of themselves. Indeed?


Here writes for you:


Simone Janson Simone JansonSimone Janson is publisherConsultant and head of the Institute's job pictures Yourweb.


How honest can applicants be?

The crucial question in the discussion of Dirk Ohlmeier's contribution was: How honest may, yes, applicants really have to be. In his contribution, Ohlmeier wrote:

It remains questionable whether this question and answer game is the right way? The added value of rehearsed interviews that follow the F scheme cannot be effective ... It is often forgotten that candidates slip into the applicant role in interviews. However, this is only one facet of the candidate and is not necessarily the same as the role of the employee, colleague or manager.

Applicants, are you open?

The recruiting coach and interim recruiting manager Henrik Zaborowski made it clear in a comment that interviews should rather be seen as a non-binding meeting. And also explains immediately what it should look like:

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Does that mean for the Company : Give applicants the opportunity to talk to your staff before they even want to apply. And for the applicants: Use your networks and talk to people, not roles! And do not be afraid of openness. Otherwise you will end up in jobs and corporate cultures that do not suit you.

How much openness is good?

Now I would like to fully agree with Mr. Zaborowski: It does not matter, to turn in the application interview, which one afterwards in full-time job but never quite endure.

But how much openness is good and when does the openness to rudeness become as in the example shown above as a photo? There are young people who actually do such a thing - and believe, when they hear something of openness and honesty, that's what it means.

The subtleties of communication are important

In fact, one shouldn't ignore the subtleties of communication that are necessary in social interaction. And I want to go there Michal Moeslang's contribution refer to professional authenticity, which also led to heated discussions. Moeslang noted:

When we interact with others, our powerful subconscious constantly checks whether what they are doing and saying is real. It is a security strategy. However, the crucial word is not “real” at all, but rather “works”. We are concerned with whether we believe that someone acts genuinely in their actions and speeches.

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So in the end everything is a question of consideration? And maybe we shouldn't give applicants a little bit of this tool before we tell them "just be yourself"?

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  1. Achim

    It sometimes resembles a courtroom: the candidate on one side (probably at the end of the conference table) and on the other side the decision makers of the company. (Of course together at the other end) How can openness arise here if the applicant feels like a defendant? It does not fool well-intentioned politeness with a lukewarm cup of coffee.

    I think that openness in a job interview has nothing to look for, because ultimately this path leads to very personal statements of the applicant. But the applicant would have the right to expect and also to ask for this openness. It is a partnership that should lead to a relationship. You also want your partner or partner to be open.
    And that even at the first date, in all its detail?

    • Simone Janson

      Hello together, exciting discussion.
      I agree with Mr. Röhrdanz, who also advocates openness from companies, but at the same time, like Bernd, I am of the opinion that a certain degree of authenticity is necessary. However, many companies are emphatically cool and open, even though they are not. Time and again I experience how young people are enthusiastic about managers because they can address them with “you”. That doesn't make things open.
      At the end of the day, however, the chemistry has to be right and you have to fit into the company - and the employee should feel more or less comfortable.

  2. Bernd

    My answer is: we should! No. Maybe we even have to. Confidence is an important factor in job interviews. Nowadays, preparing for an interview seems like preparing an actor for his role (as mentioned in the post). Unfortunately, very few applicants have graduated from drama school and are pushed into a profile that seems forced and that they don't fit into. Authenticity is required - and must no longer be an exclusion criterion!

    I see the responsibility for the personnel decision-makers, who would like to motivate their candidates in the interview to answer natural responses and also want to see people. The workforce is NOT a uniform machine that only needs to be tested for your function. A great contribution!

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