The 5% effort life: Breaking job interview "rules"


I have a confession. I have been breaking a phone interview "rule." Instead of a suit, I am now wearing pajamas or jeans during phone interviews. It's all part of my "5% effort" strategy.

Let me explain...

I used to take Flamenco dance. I was in the advanced class, and although I would learn the choreography, whenever I danced it, something was off. I'd do all the steps in the proper order, but it just didn't sound quite right. So, I would lift my chest higher, suck in my core more or stomp louder.

That's when my teacher would say, "5% effort." I would try less hard. That actually worked most of the time. The choreography would flow. My intellect stopped talking, and my body just did its thing.

I had reached a similar point with phone interviews. Despite following all the "rules," I still am not getting in-person interviews. During phone interviews, I print out my resume, the job description, the organization's "about us" page as well as answers I wrote to various "most popular interview questions." And I would wear a suit, walk around while on the phone, smile, look at my face in the mirror to make sure I was smiling...

Despite all that preparation, I was still nervous, and I would still get a rejection letter two weeks later.

But a few weeks ago, I remembered, "5% effort."

Now I wear pajamas. Am I still a bit nervous? Sure. But when I am in my pajamas on my bed instead of in a suit at my desk, the conversation no longer feels so high stakes. I am not cringing with every "uh" or "um." My heart doesn't race if I interrupt the interviewer. I am not in my suit thinking, "Corporate. Must sound corporate. Use business words. Don't sound folksy. In fact, don't say 'folks.' Say employees or clients. SAY 'EMPLOYEES.' You said 'folks." Oh no!"

Time will tell if "5% effort" actually yields an in-person interview. But at least my stomach isn't in knots every time I have a phone interview. Hopefully I sound more "natural," but not too informal, because you know, it's an interview.

Have you ever broken a job interview "rule" but got the job anyway? Please share!