As recruiters, we often come across candidates who are just so smooth, so slick and so together. Every so often though; not all is as it seems. The lighting is good and the makeup is on point… but those Instagram models are just not who they say they are. They have strategically set up an entire scenario, manipulating the angle and pose to fool you. That’s what imposter candidates do. They are impeccable on the surface but when you dig a little deeper you realise you’ve actually been catfished. This begs the question; in an age of burgeoning dishonesty and outright fakery how do you as a candidate prove to yourself to a recruiter, a potential employer and yourself?
It Starts With Your CV
Before you even enter the room, your CV makes an entrance. Polish it, make it a work of art. People need to see that you care enough about the finer details to garner enough attention to warrant a phone call. Compare your CV to others you’ve seen. Research different CV layouts and please, please, please run a spell and grammar check. Ask other people to read it and double check your spelling and grammar too. More important still, make sure that it is coherent and offers the reader an overview of who you are as a developer. Any signs of sloppiness will already be a red flag to whoever it is you are trying to leave an impression on.
Talk the Talk
You’ve made it through the initial barrier and you are now engaging in talks with your recruiter or the potential employer. It’s fairly easy to say the right things at this point and its tempting to say anything you have to to get an interview. At this point however your recruiter or potential employer will notice any potential discrepancies between your CV and whatever it is you’re telling them. If you are struggling to get your story straight, you will be found out sooner rather than later.
Take the Test
You don’t always have to take a test but now and then a potential employer will insist on one and they may well take the results seriously. As recruiters, we know that some candidates simply do not test well and there may be a plethora of reasons for that but a potential employer may not be so understanding. They may see minor mistakes and your nerves as a clear sign that you don’t know how to code and ultimately it will factor into any final decisions and negotiations. If you are not an imposter candidate however, the situation is workable and all is not lost.
Explain What You Do
If you’re faking it to make it, you won’t be able to explain what you do. Be it in an interview or over the phone, dodging questions and being elusive will take you out of the running completely. If you can’t explain what it is you do, how you do it and why – no one else can. Even if the person interviewing you isn’t 100% Java fluent, they will quickly figure out whether you are talking kak or if you actually know what you do.
Admit When You Don’t Have the Answers
So now that you’re in the interview you are under immense pressure to wow your potential employer but our nerves do tend to affect how we present ourselves, how we answer questions and our ability to think on our feet. At this point in time it is crucial to remember that a real imposter candidate would continue to say whatever they think is necessary. Don’t do that. If you genuinely don’t have the answer simply be honest. No one always has the answers and the best sign of a critical thinker is the admission thereof. Supposing you are without answers to all the questions, simply say; ‘I’m not sure but I will find out’, or ‘that’s a good question, I haven’t thought of that before’ and offer a potential way to find a solution or tell them you can get back to them at a later stage.
In the interest of full disclosure and clear communication, it is essential that you ask your potential employer and your recruiter whether they have any concerns. If you are not an imposter, you will be completely comfortable with taking extra care to explain yourself and what’s more; you will come across as sincere.
Don’t Make Promises You Can’t Keep
Lastly, if you really are an imposter you will be in the habit of making promises you cannot keep. Whether you do it intentionally or not is beside the point. Selling someone a lemon (even if you are the lemon) is deplorable and just unethical. All you really have is your word and if your word is an empty promise you may as well give up on being a developer and work your way into politics.
If reading this article you had a moment when you realised you have displayed some typical imposter candidate behaviour; fix it. Stop it. A job interview isn’t Instagram and your career cannot be built on flattering lighting and awkward poses. Be sincere from the start and you will have the respect of your recruiter and your potential employer. After all, why be someone else? It’s difficult to keep up a façade.