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You landed a major interview, and pulled out all of the stops — a snazzy new suit, trendy work pumps, a dynamic resume, and a strong introductory statement that sounds unrehearsed. The only thing left to do is to go into that office and put on an Oscar-worthy performance. But before rocking the audition, ask yourself, “Am I just playing a role?”

During interviews we put our best selves forward, and in doing so we often fudge the truth by exaggerating our skills and delivering the best answers to get the job. While this may be beneficial when merely looking for a means to pay the bills, it is not the best route when pursuing a long-term career.

You’re going to be asked questions that ask you to draw on your experience in a way that will be useful for your prospective new company. “Here at XMark we are all about teamwork. Tell me about a time you efficiently worked on a team, and how you found it rewarding.”

Now your first thought is “Uhhh…never!” but you smile, take a brief moment to think it over, and recite a fictional narrative that leaves your interviewer satisfied and impressed. You are one step closer to joining the cast. All you have to do is stick to the script. But how can you really perform at your best if you hate what you are doing?

By lying about your work preferences, you do yourself a major disservice. Maybe there is another open position for which you are better suited. But there’s always the option to walk away. When the human resources professional does not choose you for a job, they don’t consider it a failure. You should not consider yourself a failure when acknowledging a specific role or company is not for you. Both parties are looking for the best possible fit to ensure a productive, mutually beneficial relationship. But so often we sell ourselves without considering what we are buying.

Instead of approaching the interview for what it is — a meeting for both parties to get to know each other and gauge compatibility — we go in putting all of our energy into “performing.” We forget that our time is our most valuable asset, and 70 percent of our lives are spent at work. Just like a partner, it is important to decide whether or not a company or position is worth your time and energy. Will you enjoy it more than you dislike it? Will it help you grow?

It is important to see yourself as an asset. You have to truly believe that your gifts will make the company you work for more successful and efficient. If you do not believe that a specific role or company will allow you showcase your talents and personality, than why would you want to sacrifice years of your life there? Money could be a major incentive, and there is nothing wrong with that. The bills don’t stop because you are following your dreams. However, if you are looking to be fulfilled and leave the just-to-get-a-paycheck job, you must search for environments that are productive to your growth. If you do not know and believe in your worth, you will always be sold short.

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