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Imposter Syndrome - is it hurting your hunt for talent?

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We all doubt ourselves from time to time - can I deliver this campaign? Am I good enough for that promotion? Can I avoid the vending machine this lunch? But sometimes, that self-doubt turns into something more destructive called Imposter Syndrome, affecting an individual’s ability to perform and limiting your hunt for talent. 

What is Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter Syndrome is a persistent feeling that arises in certain situations that makes someone feel like a fraud or on the verge of being exposed as not belonging. Also known as the Imposter Phenomenon, it can occur despite plenty of evidence, success and validation to the contrary, and it can lead to intense stress over being found out eventually

Famous sufferers from the condition include Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, businesswoman Arianna Huffington, and even American author John Steinbeck. It can occur in all aspects of life, but is particularly prevalent at work, with 70% of UK workers having felt like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and common in the creative industry where perfection is king.

How Imposter Syndrome can affect your hunt for talent

It goes without saying that Imposter Syndrome has significant consequences for the sufferer. But it can also have several implications for your ability to recruit the best creative talent and most diverse candidates out there. For example, Imposter Syndrome might lead to:

  • A talented candidate not applying for a senior design role because they don’t believe they’re experienced enough. 

  • An experienced job seeker underperforming at an interview because they feel unduly anxious about their ability to perform in the role. 

  • A young employee suffering from unnecessary stress about meeting expectations. 

  • A new member of staff leaving during their probation period because they don’t feel that they fit in. 

How employers can help

So how can you help your creative candidates and talented employees realise their true worth?

Clear job descriptions

Vague job descriptions and advertisements can lead to dismissive feelings of being able to match the required standard and perform in the role. Overcome this by using your job descriptions to describe everyday tasks, list the specific skills required and highlight areas for supported development. 

Better interview questions

Interviews can be daunting for even the most confident of candidates. Keep the Imposter Syndrome in the waiting area by asking your candidates questions about how they’ve delivered previous projects, what they’ve done to overcome problems and the tools they’ve used to get results. Stay away from hypothetical questions such as how they would handle a difficult situation. 

Regular one-to-one meetings

It can be difficult to spot the Imposter Phenomenon in team environments, especially as not many people like to openly call themselves out as a fraud. Use your regular one-to-one meetings to spot common signs, including allowing others to take credit for work, difficulty accepting praise, overly high standards and anxiety about taking on additional tasks. 

Employee Recognition

Employee recognition isn’t just good for employee engagement. By recognising outstanding work and those behind that work, you can help employees to feel more comfortable about their achievements. But, it’s not just the successes that you should be recognising. By understanding an employee’s weaknesses, you can implement training plans and coaching to help them feel like they belong. 

If you’re looking for help in combating Imposter Syndrome during your creative recruitment and onboarding processes, get in touch today for advice on candidate screening, vacancy wording, and interview questions.