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Remember to bring self-awareness to the interview

One of the most important things to bring to an interview is self-awareness. How does self-awareness help, what exactly is it and why does it matter?

Self-awareness is a popular buzzword in many leadership and development discussions. Self-awareness is important, arguably crucial because having a better understanding of ourselves opens up the doorway to being able to achieve empowerment – empowerment to leverage on our strengths, and empowerment to identify our weaknesses and areas of improvement. Someone with high self-awareness has a depth of understanding of their own motivations and values.

When I run career and educational guidance workshops, one of the key focus of these sessions is to establish self-awareness and this can be done in a variety of ways, depending on the age and the experience levels of the participants. Using various tools including the DISC Personality Assessment, I get participants to explore personality types, passion and interests, skills, values and all of these data points help each person form a holistic idea of who they really are. The use of the right tools is crucial in the formation of the thinking points and scaffolding that enables each person to develop a level of self-awareness that can be value adding and actionable for further development.

While it may sound strange to say that we need to spend time understanding ourselves (surely, this is the one person you should know best), many of us spend more time reflecting on our thoughts about other people and other things, rather than ourselves. In fact, based on a Harvard Business Review study[1], most people believe they are self-aware but only 10-15% actually fit the criteria. In addition, the same study has found that among those who do introspection, most would do it incorrectly, leading to poorer self-awareness, which then affects job satisfaction and well-being. It is important to highlight at this point, that introspection that is not well-guided or uses the wrong tools or coaching can lead to negative ruminations and unproductive self-talk.

Hence, as an interviewer, finding a candidate that exhibits self-awareness is a winning moment, whether you are part of a school interviewing panel or a corporate interviewing panel. A candidate who understands themselves, is able to self-motivate, seek out challenges, pace themselves well are usually comfortable in their own shoes, allowing them to adapt and adjust to situations well. These are candidates who understand the phrase “Race your strengths and train your weaknesses”.

When preparing yourself for an interview, ask yourself this question “Do I know myself? Do I know what my values are, what are the beliefs that drive me, what are my passions, what situations make me tick, and what does not?” All these points and more, will translate into how you communicate to the interviewer about yourself, and a good interviewer will be able to differentiate someone who prepared for the interviewer by using content derived from reading off the Internet, versus someone who describes themselves using self-awareness.

If the candidate does not understand themselves, how then can others understand and work with them?

[1] Harvard Business Review, What Self Awareness Really Is (and How to Cultivate It), 01/2018

Written by Siew Ling Hwang , Founder of Discovering Potential

Connect with Siew Ling via LinkedIn


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