Question: “We hear constantly, on TCLA and other places, that the application process is a skill you can learn. But if it’s something you can learn, how do we know an applicant’s story is genuine, and not just “learnt” to be presented in a way most attractive to the interviewer?”
Here’s what we think: When it comes to securing a job, people sometimes have the perception that being successful is an innate ability: you either have it or you don’t. But we don’t have that same attitudes with so many other fields, from exams to sports. You have to learn the skills to apply your knowledge.
Application and interview technique are skills you can learn. You can learn how to clearly communicate your motivations and ‘sell’ your experiences. That doesn’t mean you aren’t being genuine; you just needed to learn how to draw out the best aspects of your experiences and consider why you might actually be a fantastic asset to a firm. Often, that then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. People underestimate how fast they’ll improve once they’re actually in practice.
Similarly, for a variety of reasons, many people – particularly if they don’t come from a certain background – have never been taught that it’s okay to be confident and showcase the achievements they have. Similarly, they’ve never really been taught how to answer questions about themselves, their motivations and their competencies, or how to stay composed when answering questions outside of their comfort zone. These are all skills that can be taught, but it doesn’t mean the candidate didn’t have to do the legwork to begin with.
Knowledge matters, but learning how to present yourself convincingly is a huge part of being successful in all aspects of life. That doesn’t mean you’re being fake; it means you believe in yourself enough to know that your achievements are worth highlighting.