Why I Suck At Conventional Job Interviews and You Should Too! (Or How To Be Remarkable)

Photo Credit: pdbreen

I suck at conventional job interviews! I’m too honest.

I show up as myself and not as a caricature of who the interviewer wishes I were.

Often an interviewer doesn’t know what she really wants. Worse than that, I think most interviewers want to be fed a line.  Honest.

That’s why you get a question like, “what would your friends say is your greatest challenge/achievement?”

She really means: Tell me if you can follow the rules, play nice with others and not rock the boat.

Like most people in life, interviewers want (fake) you to show up and convince them why (fake) you fits the image they’ve already created in their head of who they want you to be.

In Life, You Don’t Wanna Get Hired…
You Wanna Be Remarkable!

Okay…maybe you do want to get hired, but you have to admit that you want to make your mark.  You want to have an impact.  The job is just the game board you play on, right?

So I’m going to tell you the best way to stand out, and you can thank me later…or send candy/booze/money (not necessarily in that order!)


Wait for it…

Here it comes!

Quit Trying

That’s right. In order to be remarkable, you have to quit trying so hard to be like everyone else who’s trying to be remarkable!

Danielle Dowling (who describes herself as a “professional soul sister”–awesome, huh?) wrote a post this week about giving up on self-improvement.  This gem grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and took me to school!

Her insights smacked the bullseye right between my eyes and made me think about why I’m such a self-help/personal development junkie.

This is what she wrote:

…with every new chapter read, flame sparked, note taped
I sent out a silent, somewhat unexamined prayer that sounded like this:

Make me better. Good enough. Worthy.
Help me fix it, change it. Disavow it.
Make me more than what I am.
Because more must be better than what I am right now

Danielle concluded with this brilliant insight.

Instead of….

Fixing it, we refine it.
Changing it, we discover it.
Dismissing it, we dive into it.

We STOP trying to get fixed.
We choose to steep ourselves in awareness by getting intimate with the very thing we want to “make better.”

Stop and simmer in that one for a bit.

Stand Up to Stand Out

You are remarkable–as you are–without masking, facade, or veiled half-truths.

It’s not that you believe that you aren’t remarkable already, it is that you have spent your whole life trying not to stand out too much while, at the same time, trying to imitate those who you esteem as truly remarkable.

If you want to make your mark, you have to be you.

No more apologizing for yourself–in beliefs, words or actions.

You have to be willing to disappoint the expectations of others.

You must give up the “you” that you have constructed to please all of “them”.

You have to reconnect to that portion of yourself that doesn’t settle and never has. You have to get crystal clear about what you are about, and then you have to do the work to ensure that you are reflected in every. single. thing. you do.

Each of Us Is a Leader

You must first lead yourself.

Honesty. That’s what it is all about.

1. Be honest with yourself about who you are–without judgment or apology.

2. Be honest with those around you. Let them see what you’re about.

3. Be honest with the world about how remarkable you really are!

I’ll Go First…

I am willing to live without apology to others. Their judgments of my motives have nothing to do with me.

No more hiding.  I was created to make a mark on the hearts and souls of humankind. It’s who I am and it’s what I do best.

I am an amazing leader with a deep well of compassion and the fire of purpose burning within me. I am a great friend and amazing partner.

Your turn.

What are you willing to quit apologizing for? (and to whom?)

What brilliant part of yourself are you willing to let others see?

How will you stand out and make your mark when you quit trying so hard to be like _______________________?

About Steve

Hi, I'm Steve Rice and my goal is to transform simple philosophical truths into practical fuel to revolutionize your life. It's not about self-help, it's about self-reliance. I show you how. Connect with me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter and let me know how I can help you.

  • Maybe you suck conventional Interview because it is not your passion in taking job interviews. I was afraid to take interview when looking for a job I think it really sucks. However, it all changes when one of my friend tell me that having the confidence in answering the question is the key. In addition, you should have fighting spirit.

    • Steve

      You’re probably right. I’m not passionate about interviews. It is about confidence…and also about not internalizing the rejection if what I have to offer is not what the company is looking for. It doesn’t mean anything about me. It’s just that it wasn’t the right fit.

  • Yup, it’s true – you have to be willing to be who you are, the good/bad/ugly, and no one else. Actually I can’t imagine why anyone would want to be anyone else – we’re all on our own journey, and there’s a reason for that. The thing is to see ourselves how we really are, and that is a journey in itself.

    • Steve

      Hi, Julie! Thanks for stopping by TSA Blog. Always curious how new faces found me.

      I think your last sentence says it all: “The thing is to see ourselves how we really are, and that is a journey in itself.” Seeing ourselves for who and what we are is essential. The difficulty I have found is that so often we mask who we are–even from ourselves, and so it’s sometimes difficult to recognize our own light.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your great insight.

  • Great topic, Steve!

    I was having this exact conversation with someone else the other day. I remember saying, a lot of times people really have no earthly idea of what it is they really want from us They tell us to just be ourselves, and when this happens, they then ask us if we could tone it down a bit. The inconsistencies some people have make me dizzy just thinking about it.

    That’s why I’ve reached the conclusion as well. The time of trying to appease others for me is over. Either they’re going to like what I’m giving (respect), or our journey together is going to the back-burner of my life. Putting that much energy into trying to make someone else happy and they not having a clue of what it is they actually want can be quite exhausting.

    There will be no more apologizing for me putting forth my best effort. If people aren’t able to accept us trying to do our best, then they couldn’t possibly handle us at our best. Tell em to press on! 😀

    • Steve

      It’s easy to make others uncomfortable when we grow beyond their expectations or comfort levels. Yet it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t continue to work to do so.

  • Ray

    I’ve recently went to a job interview and unfortunately i was over qualify for the job. Now the reason is because i think i was too over confident, not to the point where i started exaggerating. But to the point where I’ve made the interviewer believe i would end up leaving the job within a few months. The interview went on for nearly 30 minutes and i can tell you, I answer nearly all their questions with the best possible answer. But the point is you have to have confidence and not too much, in order to be successful in any interview.

    • I can relate, Ray. It is difficult because the interviewer is looking out for their best interests and that may be to keep their employees settled in the position to provide stability to the company.

      I guess that is part of the interview process, too, isn’t it? Finding out if they are a good fit for *you* 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by to comment. Hope to see you around here again.

  • Great post! Having been on both sides of interviewing, the tone of the interview depends on the interviewer, the position, and the agency. “Tell me if you can follow the rules, play nice with others and not rock the boat.” may be true BUT there are of course pros and cons to these expectations when one is being hired to work as a part of the team.

    Regardless, I thought the questions you asked at the end are important ones to reflect on. Thanks!

    • Steve


      Thanks so much for stopping by the site and contributing your insight as both an interviewer and interviewee.

      I, too, have been on both sides of the table. As you pointed out, I was primarily using this story as a tool to ask the final questions, so I appreciate your comments.

      Pragmatically, it is important to judge someone’s personality and character when it comes to interacting with a team of people to produce a product or service. I do think a lot of the silly questions that are asked are just that–silly. There are so many much more effective ways to identify if someone is a right fit, and if the company is a right fit for them!

      Hope to see you around the site more often, and again, thanks for stopping in!

  • OMG, I hope I never have to go on another interview in my life!!! I’m definitely having too much fun being myself and discovering more parts of me that have been unknown in the past….heehee…and I’m so done apologizing! ……really enjoyed your post Steve. 🙂
    Thank you!

    • Steve

      That’s awesome, Gina. The coolest thing is that as you grow, you can shine the light for others to follow in your footsteps. I really appreciate you stopping by the site and sharing your insight.

  • Hi Steve!
    I loved Danielle’s post, and I love yours too!
    I had this epiphany too this weekend, and I have decided to quit trying to be someone I am not, this doesn’t work! So yeah, I might be a yoga teacher and life coach, but I am first and foremost me. I am grounded, funny, occasionally drop the f-bomb, wear my Doc Martens, love music, and so much more. Some people won’t work with me, and that’s ok. Others will.
    Time to show who we truly are and yes, stop apologizing 🙂

    • Steve

      Love this, Emmaunelle! You got it! That’s exactly what I was going for. By being ourselves, we are automatically remarkable. People who “get” us will get it. Others will continue on their way…and that’s okay. I don’t need everyone to like me. I just need to be true to who I am and reach the ones that I was meant to reach!

  • Jo

    What I’m really loving about how work is changing is that conventional interviews are not necessary for those of us who have figured out how to do it on our own. No more compromising! That is not to say I don’t also at times have to remind myself not to pull back from being fully me. My biggest challenge is not to feel this urge to explain myself all the time – not so much apologizing but feeling the need to explain how “reasonable” I am.

    • Steve

      I agree, Jo. I posted a new vid to YouTube talking about passion and purpose. One of the things I pointed out is that we’re transitioning from the technological age. More and more people are wanting to close the gap between our career and true vocation.

      I really identify with your feelings about explaining yourself too. When you’re not “normal” there is a lot of pressure to be like others. People want us to fit into their comfort zones…not just our own.

  • I have always traveled the least populated road and that has made a difference for me as it did to whoever said it first. But it is not only about not asking permission to anybody. You can only have the needed strength when you know that sacred call inside. I think I read it on a Wayne Dyer book some time ago and the thing is: it really works.

    • Steve

      That’s why you inspire me, friend. You have made a conscious choice to take the road less-traveled. I love the insight from Dr. Dyer. He’s one of my favorite teachers. I agree…it’s about honoring that calling isn’t it?

  • Interviews have always been a game I didn’t like to play. I appreciate your perspective in your post, because I firmly believe one of the ways my entrepreneurial spirit asserts itself is that I’m bad at being am employee, haha.

    … which, in turn, makes me not very good at interviews. 😉

    • Steve

      LOL. Rhiannon, you don’t know how much I can relate to this. I suck so badly at “corporate America”…all of it! I, like you, am entrepreneurial. I love the freedom and I love the pressure of creating my own thing–whatever it is. Maybe that’s another real reason I’m no good at interviews…I don’t really want to be there! 😛

  • Steve…I couldn’t agree more, be remarkable, be yourself!
    I see this stage of realization as both the simplifying and struggle stage, we’ve had the wake up and realized there is more to life than doing stuff for everyone else or trying to be what we’re not.As an ex-recruiter I’ve sat through a lot of interviews in my time!!! (LOL). Then we go through the getting rid of our emotional baggage, losing fair weather friends etc who can’t see why we’re changing and then we get to the gold…the transformation. That’s when remarkable stuff really happens, when the mark of authenticity really shines through.We’ve stopped tried to change our external world but in changing our internal one, the world around us changes for the better.

    • Steve

      That’s a great way to look at it, Kath! Simplifying and struggle. I agree with you. I wrote a book last year about my journey to joy. A big part of that process was letting go of the need to struggle (or resist) and allowing the transformation to occur. One of my favorite insights from As A Man Thinketh is the one you pointed out. “It is impossible for a man to remain still without and move within” (my paraphrase)

      It’s so difficult sometimes to remember this truth in “real” life because we’re so addicted to the external, but the reality is that everything outside is a reflection–in some way or another of the internal.