If I had to list the four components of CASE in order of importance, Authenticity would undoubtedly top the list! I can’t stress enough the necessity of being authentic and genuine in interactions. Even though recruiters rank it as the most desirable skill to have, it is still one of the least common to find.
When it comes to networking, info (informational) sessions, info interviews or real interviews, the candidate with the best interpersonal skills usually stands out. These candidates have an air of vibrancy around them, have an ability to make people laugh, sound witty and are fun to be around. They ultimately land “the most likeable” title almost instantly!
These skills require high confidence, tons of practice and to some extent, innate abilities. The results of these skills are huge: instant recognition, reward, and the candidate almost always makes the cut! It is therefore not surprising, that every student is adopting these skills rampantly, almost imitating the behavior. However, we know what the ramifications are with imitation: the behavior is not genuine or sincere! Worse, guess who gets the short end of the stick? The person who is actually genuine.
Now coming back to the first statement of the post, I would like to tell you why I consider authenticity to be THE most important factor in your success.
Most MBA candidates are on an equal playing ground in terms of their skills. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be in an MBA school in the first place. If not skills, what differentiates one student from another? PERSONAL SKILLS. Period. I didn’t say soft skills for a reason. I believe soft skills can be learned and acquired over time. However, personal skills are unique and inherent. Being genuine is one such personal trait. Every person has it and it is left to circumstances if a person wants to use it or not. So, why should we use it to our advantage?
Fun fact: When you sit in the chair of the interviewee, hundreds of things are running in your head such as:
“I hope I am not sitting stiff”
“I think I should smile more”
“Did I not answer this as per interviewer’s satisfaction, he seems to make this weird expression”
“I am too boring… look, the interviewer is yawning” etc., etc.
Now, let’s think about the person on the other side of the table. First, they have already been in your shoes so they can see through you with ease. Second, by evolution humans are wired to read other people. It is a survival instinct so we basically can’t do anything about it! If we want to take a sneak peak into the interviewer’s mind, what would it sound like? I believe something along the lines of this:
“The day is so good, I get a break from my work and still get paid”
“I would love to do this more often”
“This poor guy is getting nervous”
“This candidate has something in them, I like them”
“Oh, can I finish this conversation sooner please“, etc., etc.
They can see every move, every expression, everything you say, and even most things you don’t even say. Yes, people love to play detective and discover what the other person is thinking and feeling. Therefore, it is ALL the more important that you are intentional and authentic in both your words and actions.