Vulnerability: The Key to Making a Real Connection During Interviews

Jason Hanold offers six relationship-building tips to help you ace your next job interview.


Have you ever tried getting to know someone but you just felt like something was missing? That can happen during a job interview if you keep your guard up and don’t allow yourself to express your vulnerability.

Vulnerability is a critical foundation in relationship-building because it allows others to get to know you. Fundamentally, people will not hire people they do not trust. We can’t trust those whom we don’t know.

With that in mind, here are some tips on how to be vulnerable during an interview:

  • Approach the discussion in an authentic, transparent way. Shed the role you are playing and embrace the notion that you are meeting another human who has similar challenges, stresses and dreams.
  • Admit what you don’t know and what you’re not great at doing. Everyone has room for improvement and sharing this can create valuable connections between you and other individuals.
  • Be candid about what you need from those around you. Explaining how you work best and least effectively provides both parties with realistic expectations about what each has to offer.
  • Talk about your most significant failure, setback or life-changing moment. It shapes who you are and reveals other dimensions of your personality, providing another opportunity for the other person to better understand you.
  • Be a storyteller. Discuss your family, where you came from and some of your favorite personal experiences. Understanding your foundation creates a strong mental framework and encourages the other person to care about you as a person.
  • Seek first to connect, rather than impress. Of course, you want to highlight your accomplishments during the course of the interview, but making a personal connection first will make those achievements stand out even more.

Keep in mind that in an interview situation the candidate is not the only person being interviewed. In fact, the candidate is also assessing the interviewer and looking for insights into the company culture. Outstanding candidates don’t want to join a company where they don’t feel like they can connect with their potential new manager or colleagues. The result is a lack of chemistry or connection, which can sow doubts in a candidate who is concerned about the risk of a major career move.

Job interviews aren’t just about getting hired. They’re about getting hired at the right place, or, in the case of a hiring manager, getting the best person for your company. The best way to ensure you meet your goals is to make certain you’re being open about who you are.