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A new study finds that authenticity can carry an interviewee toward landing a job. [Image: Getty Images]

It’s human nature to get nervous or fear judgment when meeting new people for the first time, especially when something important is at stake—such as landing a new job. But, according to a new study, authenticity may actually be the key to impressing interviewers.

A team of researchers from the U.K., Italy and Hong Kong found that high-quality interview candidates who strived to present themselves as accurately during the interview process as possible had a significantly better likelihood of receiving a job offer than others.

Relax and be yourself

The study, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology in June, is titled, “The Advantage of Being Oneself.” In the study, the team focused on what they call “self-verification,” or rather, the drive of an individual to be known and understood by others. In a press release, lead author Celia Moore said that the group’s recent work suggests that the common instinct to appear as “perfect” as possible during an interview as wrong.

“Interviewers perceive an overly polished self-representation as inauthentic and potentially misrepresentative,” she says. “If you are a high-quality candidate, you can be yourself on the job market. You can be honest and authentic. And if you are, you will be more likely to get a job.”

Authenticity only goes so far

However, authenticity isn’t always the key. In an interview with Mic journalist James Dennin, study co-author SunYoung Lee said that if a candidate isn’t a high-quality fit from the start, being authentic might not be enough to seal the deal. A low-quality candidate who comes across as authentically incompetent or disorganized “might lead to a bad impression,” says Lee.

The right language, in addition to self-verification, also helped steer candidates toward a job offer. Candidates who used language “as a function” of their self-verification efforts had better and more fluid command in their communication about themselves—which, in turn, added to the impression that they were more genuine and less misrepresentative.

The team conducted the research over the course of two field studies. In those studies, international candidates for U.S.-based teaching positions recorded their self-verification drive before job interviews, and were then evaluated in face-to-face-interviews.