Interview

Cocky?

Terri Davis magazine

red rooster illustration

The hardest thing to see is ourselves, and this is no less true when it comes to an interview. Most people enter an interview wanting to do their best, outshine the rest, and win the job. But are we sometimes self-sabotaging our job interview by not being totally aware of how we convey ourselves?

Under stressful situations we all compensate or adjust in ways we aren’t fully aware of. In the Harrison Job Fit and Personality reviews that we do on all candidates, everyone has their equilibrium, the way they normally act in the world; everyone also has adjusted behaviours, the ways they are able to flex their normal personality to adjust to stressful or new situations. We all have this. Part of my own Harrison Assessment shows that I am an incredibly patient and understanding person until I am “taken advantage of” repeatedly or under highly stressful conditions, at which time I will switch from my “normal” self to my “flip behavior” of being “harsh”, in the language of Harrison. All of us have these adjusted behaviours to deal with work and work stress. Usually people stay in their normal to normal-adjusted zones, but we all have our so-called breaking points where we act in ways we wouldn’t under normal circumstances.

Having run thousands of Harrison Assessments on many potential job candidates and leaders looking for development, I have seen these patterns of behaviour for everyone. No one is excluded from this, no one is above anyone else. Whether you are a CEO, a sales representative or a labourer, we all have innate personality traits that dictate how we perform and operate. In our recruitment projects and with our coaching, it helps us and our clients to understand individuals in greater depth so that we can find the best fit and positive connection for everyone. It goes well beyond personality fit and deep into the psychological adaptations we all make every day at the office. These assessments also help our clients understand team dynamics, as everyone in the team will respond in different ways to stress and the unknown. If you haven’t run a Harrison Assessment on your teams yet, I strongly advise that you do. Not only will you see your organization in more detail, Harrison will help you add the best new team members who enhance the existing teams by their own strengths and weaknesses. It will help you elevate your team aligning people to their roles and capitalizing on their strengths; the outcome being a strong team that maximizes corporate performance, outshines your competitors and increases staff engagement and culture.

In the process of finding the right people for an organization, there are always evaluations that happen in the room after the interview. Sometimes the comment comes back to me that they felt the candidate was “cocky” instead of confident, and cocky can be off-putting. You could say that cockiness is confidence without the confidence, or that’s how many people would judge it. Knowing what I know about pressure situations in interviews and on the job, it might be that this person is actually confident and not usually cocky but overcompensates for the fear of the unknown (will I get the job or not?).  The individual may show off in ways or says things in ways that make her or him sound arrogant rather than accomplished, pushy rather than assertive, and cocky instead of confident. I always give people the benefit of the doubt in those first interviews, they are crushingly stressful. And bear in mind that these candidates might have been looking for a job for awhile, have been rejected a lot, and might be frustrated, stressed, and anxious to get the job. The tale of the tape after the subjective interviews is the Harrison Assessment. The profiling is extremely accurate. So, if you are in doubt as to whether the candidate is humble or meek, confident or cocky, pleasant or abrasive, weighing your in-person experiences with the findings of the Harrison Assessment can put your mind at ease in many ways.

No one wants to come across poorly, but from my experience, interviewing is a skill that not all have mastered. People may come across poorly in interviews precisely because of the unnatural stress of the interview. Once the job is awarded, there are new stresses in the job to deal with, from learning systems, getting to know the team, fitting in and performing. The Harrison will show how a person will perform when pushed from their comfort zone. It is another data point in assessing talent and also for your role as an employer to coach and develop your people with a true understanding of their innate behavioral traits.

None of us can mind read, and it’s impossible to really know another person’s experience. My recommendation is to always try to put yourself in the candidate’s shoes. Try to remember, you were once on the other side of the table looking for that perfect job. And let compassion, understanding, and the Harrison Assessment be your guides.

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