Crying during an interview…..Really!
Updated: Aug 11
So, a thing happened. I interviewed for a program and became very emotional when talking about how my tribe/community has influenced, developed, and supported me during challenging times. While answering a question, my voice started trembling, coupled with 'the ugly face' when trying to be strong and hold back the tears while talking. And within that, I kept saying, 'Please excuse this as it is not my normal.' Nonetheless, it wasn't a pretty sight, and this was at the start of the interview. My internal thoughts were, 'Great way to establish tone and give a lasting impression, Michelle! At least they know you can be vulnerable.' (sarcastically)
Anyone who knows me knows I rarely show this vulnerable side. I got emotional because I shared how my sorority sisters supported me during the most challenging time of my life – when my mom passed 9-months ago. Her passing was compounded with other personal and professional transitions, rediscoveries, growth, and happiness. Though grieving for my mom showed up at that moment, it was also an appreciation of the love I received. It made me realize how your community matters to give you breath when you feel you cannot move forward or have doubts. Thankfully the interviewers were kind and understanding, gave me a moment to collect myself, then continued our conversation.
This moment made me reflect on the beauty and complexity of humanity. How it's okay not always have it together and still 'be strong'. How there is strength in vulnerability that allows you to release fear and breathe in courage to rediscover something about yourself. To surround yourself with diverse people that will challenge and encourage you and be a mirror to hold you accountable while reminding you of your greatness.
Now, crying during an interview is not something I am promoting, as I know it was not my experience's intent. But I appreciate this experience reminding me of the power of vulnerability and the community you choose to grow with. This is something that I typically share with leaders but overlooked for me. So, as you make personal and professional transitions, I ask that you:
embrace vulnerable moments as a time to reflect and appreciate that lesson; no matter when and how those moments happen,
be open and go with the flow (trust the process) if it does not compromise your core beliefs and identities,
be intentional with surrounding yourself with people (including organizations) who will help you evolve and support you in becoming your best authentic self.
Thankful for the tears.