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Posted on December 03, 2020. Recruitment Advice.

Article via Pro Bono news.

Being yourself and adding some personal flair during a job interview is important – it’s how you can stand out from the rest of the people applying for the same job.

But, there’s a limit. Going overboard with details on personal matters, and spending half the interview bad-mouthing your former manager isn’t a great look, and might harm your chances of getting past the interview stage (even if you are the perfect person for the job).

So how can you strike a balance between being open and friendly, while still remaining professional?

We sat down with Lois Freeke from NGO Recruitment to find out.

Stay away from taboo topics 

Your first job interview shouldn’t be used as an opportunity to share all your opinions about divisive and personal issues such as religion, politics, or bad-mouthing your old boss. If possible, these topics should be avoided completely.

“Bringing up things like religion, gossip, politics, or oversharing about aspects of your personal life is not very wise,” Freeke says.

“Opening up about family details, such as having kids so you have to leave early, might open you up to discrimination, so there’s no point in an interview situation putting yourself at any disadvantage.”

Be strategic but authentic

Because you don’t want to come across as a candidate-robot, think about how you want to sell yourself for the particular opportunity at hand, showing off your best professional and personal traits without going into a whole lot of personal detail.

“The interviewer is there to gauge your cultural fit because we want to understand your purpose, your motivation for the organisation and the job,” she says.

“You should show self awareness, you should be genuine, and you should also be able to show that you’ve learned from past mistakes.”

Rehearse, but don’t overdo it  

Making a list of topics you want to cover or memorising areas of discussion verbatim is a good way to look prepared but not robotic. Sticking to a plan will also help you avoid some of those touchier subjects.

“You need to prepare a few things but be able to shoot from the hip in a natural way so that you don’t seem too robotic,” she says.