I have spent a great deal of time and energy this year trying to network in order to find a job post-graduation. I’m lucky to have met some incredible people during the process who have been excited to impart their wisdom on me. It’s hard to keep track of all the advice these professionals have given me, but I have noticed a recurring piece of advice about how I should conduct myself during the interview process:
“Present yourself confidently, but stay humble while doing so.”
“The sweet spot is where confidence meets humility.” I have been told. But those two words are almost oxymoronic; there’s not exactly a fine line between them. An ideal interview would be one in which I adamantly describe how employable I am while also talking about how I don’t know much and have a lot to learn. How does that work? It just seems contradictory, and it challenges my understanding of the way good business is conducted: with honesty, directness, and transparency.
Business is a social game and I have learned a lot about how successful professionals are, first and foremost, excellent communicators. They are confident, so you take what they say seriously, but are humble at the same time, so that you trust them and what they have to say.
When I am given this advice or similar advice about how I should present myself in an interview, I can’t help but think that the whole process is disingenuous. It almost feels as though there is formula that you can use to crack a code in order to get ahead. That’s not how I want to communicate in my first job. I would hope that I work with people who believe in the same values that I believe drive good business: honesty, directness, and transparency. I hope my first employer shares those values with me.