Students: In Interviews, These Four Areas Of Focus Beat “Perfection” Every Time – Part 2

Continued from Part 1   

Leadership Lesson: Great interviewing mirrors what we do everyday, when we demonstrate to others the quality of our work, skill, and character.

Keep this in mind: There is no such thing as perfection when it comes to making an impression of any kind, especially during an interview.

Much in the same way we might expend too much energy fighting off fear and insecurity, we can also expend too much energy fighting to perfect the impression we give others. The former is a draining defensive effort while the latter is a draining offensive tactic, and neither gets you anywhere.

The stress of those draining forces can be detected by others in how someone comes across, because it can hinder a person’s internal focus to accurately monitor and act on their ability.

That mission for perfection is an added burden over which we’re stretching our resources too thin.

Instead of focusing so much on reaching perfection, seek to be professional, espouse preparation, demonstrate pertinence, and reflect personality.

Be Professional

Being professional means understanding what you need to convey – your demeanor, polish, and self-awareness. Although made up of both the strength and delivery of your knowledge and specialty, professionalism is initially demonstrated by the delivery of the two, then quickly followed by the depth and strength of that knowledge and specialty.

Think about what it is others take from your appearance and the articulation of your message. What assurances and reassurances do they get from your demeanor?

We want to make sure that people get the impression that whatever they leave in our charge will be in good hands, in both how it is handled and how we represent the organization or mission.

It is merely delivering our brand – yes, “brand” – and what we stand for. (There are so many schools of thought about how to refer to “what one delivers.” Should we call it “brand” or “reputation.” Let people argue about what it’s called; you just get to work and leave your “signature” on the environment. However you refer to it, it’s meant to describe how you “leave your mark,” and “how people remember you.” See! Those are a few more ways to refer to it.)

How will people remember you?

Again, this is not perfection. You’re merely demonstrating you would be a great asset, and a fine representative and ambassador for the mission.

Espouse Preparation

Espousing preparation means you understand what it is you seek (for yourself) in a company or organization you’re analyzing.

You understand yourself. You understand what you can provide to the company. You know how to articulate what it is you’re looking for. This doesn’t mean you know exactly what it is you want in your life; it is more about your curiosity about the possibilities for the next stage of your life and/or career than it is about knowing the specifics of your master plan at that exact moment.

It demonstrates that, as best as you can and with the resources you’ve had access to, you’ve learned as much as you can about the company. Through that familiarity with the company, you can then intertwine your history into the veins of that narrative where possible, demonstrating how your experience can contribute to the organization.

Again, this is not perfection. You’re merely demonstrating you know how to cover all your bases to get to the best result possible.

Demonstrate Pertinence

Demonstrating your pertinence is conveying the sense that a company would be foregoing a great piece of its future if it let you walk out the door for good.

When self-awareness is mentioned under professionalism, it reflects that what you demonstrate of yourself is important and a solid foundation. Here, under the domain of pertinence, self-awareness means you know what you can contribute and how valuable you are.

Keep in mind, though, this is about confidence, not ego. You’re not closed off. You’re open-minded. You’re aware of what you can provide today, and what you can (or need to) learn for tomorrow.

Related Post: It’s Time To Find Your Confidence When It Comes To Interviewing

Have the confidence to know how good you are and what you can deliver, but also exercise the humility to know you can’t go it alone.

Again, this is not perfection. You’re merely demonstrating how good you are, so that your work ethic, commitment, and pride come through.

Reflect Your Personality

Finally, reflect your personality. This is what is going to set you apart just as much as, if not more than, everything else.

Although it’s hard to express your true personality due to the pressure of the situation, you have to be real in an interview — or in any situation, for that matter.

We have to avoid being robotic. Too often, we get lost in the script of who can say and reflect what and act how, to the point that a candidate is at the mercy of the interviewer, as if the interviewer or boss wields 100% of the power.

On a positional power chart and hierarchy, of course that’s the truth, and that is the case. Those people make the final decision. But that doesn’t mean people should be fearful of that power. The more power someone has, the more they need the ability another person carries to help make pertinent decisions.

This step takes a lot of work. A balance has to be struck between reflecting who we are and (without) becoming too comfortable or so comfortable we turn others off.

Again, this is not perfection. You’re merely demonstrating there is more to you than the work itself, and that there is a balance between who you are and what you do.


Students, whether those in the traditional sense or those who seek to continually develop, need to see the strength in their abilities, and they need to demonstrate that to others.

Related Post: How Strong is Your Voice for Your Value? What Will You Show Others?

It’s your values and what you stand for that allow you to shine your brightest and push you through the walls of your biggest fears.

Refining your professionalism and preparation, while demonstrating your pertinence and personality, establishes the right foundation upon which to build and reach your goals.

And you don’t have to be a certain age or in a certain position to harness those points. You can begin tapping into them from wherever you are right now.

So, to answer the question What will differentiate me from others?

Answer: You.



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