In the world of job hunting, it seems that more and more hoops need to be jumped through to land the position. TikTok user Sophini posted a video that has now gone viral highlighting the struggle many job seekers face today: the need for employment against the pressure of “being passionate” through your whole job interview process, regardless of personal interest.1
Sophini’s candid account struck a chord with millions echoing the same sentiments, countless others have faced job interviews requiring them to feign enthusiasm beyond a reasonable ask. In a receptionist job interview, Sophini was seen as “not showing enough enthusiasm,” which sparked a broader conversation about the authenticity demanded of job seekers in today’s market.
The Truth vs. Opportunity
As job seekers work through interviews, the temptation to overstate qualifications or lie about what interests them is something experts caution against.2 Being honest and showing integrity throughout the application journey is important, despite the pressures to present a flawless image (but the experts won’t tell us why other than that “it’s wrong”).
While Sophini’s experience reminds us all of the importance of being authentic, it did come at the cost of a job. Her refusal to compromise and ‘play the new interview game’ that current job interview chasers know all about resonated with individuals worldwide. Discussions about the ethical nature of job interviews are happening, but there being any actual change any time soon is doubtful. Today’s job market is so competitive that companies can afford to be picky, so despite public outcry, until the money slows down and candidates stop applying, meaningful change will likely not take place for a while.
Storytelling in a Job Interview
Storytelling is a potent tool for candidates trying to leave a lasting impression. Rather than outright lying, applicants are encouraged to master, leveraging an experience or two to convey how suitable they are for the role being offered.
For example, using anecdotes and achievements in a job interview helps paint a much more vivid picture of one’s capabilities and potential contributions to a team. By telling a story, one can showcase their qualifications rather than just saying outright they are good at a task.
Interviewers often give challenging questions designed to test a candidate’s character. From salary expectations to reasons for leaving a former role, answering these questions requires finesse. Always be sure to speak well of people in your past, or at the very least speak of them with respect. Being professional despite any past experiences being poor shows maturity and control over personal qualms.
When faced with questions about salary, it is advised to approach the topic diplomatically and with transparency. Do the research, ask what the range for the role is as well, and be firm with asking for the preferred amount. Similarly, when asked about leaving a previous role, emphasize the importance of personal growth and future aspirations.
A Path to Job Interview Success
With rapid tech advancements and shifting job requirements, embracing a mindset of growth and adaptability has become essential. Job seekers are encouraged to view these new challenges as opportunities for learning and development (which is incredibly unfair compared to their predecessors but alas, life is not fair in a late-stage capitalism game).
By showcasing a willingness to adapt and learn new skills, candidates can demonstrate resilience and growth potential, which is what companies want to see. Employers value people who show a proactive, rather than reactive approach to self-improvement. That being said, Sophini’s refusal to compromise who she is shows that despite what employers may want to see, if we bend our morals to get the job, then employers will likely expect that bend to continue if hired.
Job interviews today often feel like high-stakes performances, staying true to yourself is the ultimate act of empowerment (but costing you a paycheck). By balancing our honesty and integrity with the growth mindset and adaptability employers want to see, candidates just may be able to live with themselves while saying the more accurate versions of how they feel after securing themselves financially.