Top 5 ways to showcase your hybridity and standout from the crowd during an interview

Before I knew I was, and could be, a hybrid professional, I thought it was best to minimize my multiple professional identities and spotlight only the one or two that employers wanted to hire me for. Looking for a teacher? I can teach. Need a program manager? I can manage programs. Looking for someone experienced with community relations and event planning? I can do both.

When I passed the application screening and made it to the interview stage, I did my best to look like and sound like what the future employer wanted. I thought it was best not to highlight my strengths and passions that fell outside of the role because I didn’t want to confuse the hiring committee or detract from how I wanted them to see me — which was as the exact right candidate.

I don’t know where I got this conception that I needed to fit as perfectly as possible into a box that an employer crafted. Maybe years of schooling had overtrained me into becoming a super conformist. In the end, what happened when I received a job offer and accepted it was that I locked myself into that box the I had worked so hard to fit into, and it didn’t feel good. I didn’t notice it at first, usually the first few months of a new job are an adjustment period anyway. Yet, slowly and surely, I would start to feel trapped because the only talent set I was supposed to use was the one I presented during the hiring process.

And, that’s a problem because I’m a hybrid professional. I don’t just use one talent set or identity in a role, I use multiple identities simultaneously. When I can’t do this in a job, I feel frustrated, stuck, and like a shadow of my full professional self.

How was I going to break this cycle? What did I need to do to be seen and hired for my full professional identity — my hybrid professional identity — in a job? No one taught me how to showcase my hybridity in an interview so I could get hired for being myself. I barely even knew how to talk about my hybridity in regular settings let alone during job interviews.

I don’t know exactly how it happened — probably out of an attitude of “what do I have to lose?” — but as I navigated my nonlinear career path, I slowly began to reveal different sides of myself to colleagues, teammates, and bosses. At work, I raised my hand to jump into projects that sounded outside of my zone even though I knew I had skills in it, other workers just hadn’t witnessed it before. I began talking about my other identities from past jobs or side projects during lunch meetings or team gatherings. As I told stories about my full set of primary professional identities, coworkers were surprised, interested, and it opened doors between our work streams, which fed my hybrid needs.

It was as if I needed to first practice getting comfortable with my teammates seeing me as a hybrid, and then I began to use it when I was networking, and eventually I was brave enough to bring it into interviews, which changed the type of jobs I was offered. The jobs became hybrid jobs, instead of siloed ones.

Hybridity is part of every aspect of your career

Hybridity informs and influences all parts of your career. It’s how you introduce yourself, how you write your resume, how you network, how you do email introductions, how you grow and change jobs, and especially in how you conduct and organize the day to day tasks of what you actually do in your job.

Particularly in the interview process, hybrids can stumble and hide valuable parts of themselves because:

  1. they don’t know how to talk about being a hybrid or what that means
  2. they don’t want to sound like a jack-of-all-trades/ master of none, and
  3. they don’t realize that they need to be explicit about their hybridity to outshine the competition

Top 5 Tips for Hybrid Interviews (these can be used in traditional roles and in ones called hybrid roles)

Here are my five tried tips for showcasing hybridity during the interview process to: a) differentiate yourself from the competition, b) leverage your “multiple identities” as a strength and not a weakness, and c) help others (i.e. employers) quickly make sense of why you’re bringing more to the table than what they expected, and why that should delight (instead of dissuade) them in considering you more closely.

Remember, when you’re interviewing — and throughout the application process — your job is to stand out. If you’re using the same language, keywords, and generic job titles as every other applicant and interviewee, you will blend in with them. That’s not the point! This is your time to SHINE!

What makes you, you? It’s your hybridity — who you are at the intersections of your multiple identities. And what does being a hybrid mean? Well, that’s where you need to develop and practice your narrative so you can make a compelling case about the unique value you bring as a hybrid (see more about the difference between hybrids and having multiple identities in this post).

If you’re a hybrid professional, here five tips to use during an interview:

  1. Be explicit. Introduce yourself as a hybrid: This one is simple and obvious, yet people don’t think they need to say it. You set the stage of who you are and how you want to be seen. Straight out of the gate, call yourself a hybrid. Lay that as the foundation of who you are so you can weave other elements of yourself back to that. You can do this effortlessly by saying the following during your introduction, “Hi, I’m Sarabeth, I’m a hybrid professional and I can’t wait to tell you more about my interest in this role…”
  2. Use the term hybrid two or three times: If you forget to introduce yourself as a hybrid, you can certainly bring it up later in an interview question whenever it’s appropriate. In fact, I recommend splashing the word hybrid into your interview answers two or three times over a 30 minute or hour long interview. A little repetition won’t hurt, especially if you’re backing it up with a story (see point 4). If the hiring committee doesn’t notice or it didn’t seem to mean anything to them the first time they heard you say it, saying it a couple times will likely capture their attention. The point here is to drop hints about your hybridity and reinforce that this is an important part of who you are. Remember, saying you’re a hybrid is never enough on its own; you still need to back it up with meaning, which comes from your intersections and stories (points 3 and 4).
  3. Talk about your intersections: Intersections are when your primary professional identities overlap, and hybrids work from those spaces. A key phrase I hear people adopt after they realize they’re hybrids is this: “I work at the intersections of ________, ________, and __________.” This could be industries or skills or a combination. Again, this is another easy prompt to use. By inserting this phrase into an interview answer, you quickly frame your key areas of expertise. Deliberately using the term intersections shows you’re not in one bucket — you cross all of them together. The word intersection and the concept of intersectionality are powerful because it contextualizes your multidimensionality.
  4. Portray clear examples of your hybridity in action- (especially where you make connections others miss): Hybridity is hard to see. We mistake hybrid work for traditional work by giving it conventional labels because true hybridity defies language — we have no words to call the new thing that emerges in the intersections of who we are. That’s one reason why being a hybrid and doing hybrid work is difficult to describe. When you learn how to examine your intersections, and study what you’re doing when you integrate identities, then you can point out specific instances where your hybridity is present. It might be an event that combined digital, physical, and immersive elements with live music in a way that hadn’t been done before; it might be a new product that merged design, engineering, and user feedback in a radical way; it might be the way you handle conflict and team dynamics through meditation and psychology even though you work in the tech industry. The point is, hybridity appears through our actions — the things we create, produce, direct, guide, and implement. You need to have a few strong examples in mind that reflects your hybridity. If you say you work at the intersection of three or four identities, then you need evidence to back up a time when you did that. Give quick illustrations during your interview to show the hiring committee you can do what they’re looking for AND you integrate other elements to make the work and outcomes stronger, more efficient, more effective, and a better solution for whatever the requirement was. When you share stories about your hybridity, it should meet the desired expectations of the interviewer and then some. The “value add” are the additional elements you blend together that no other candidate could or would be able to do. That’s what sets you a part.
  5. Don’t be afraid to educate an employer or hiring manager on what hybridity is and why hybridity is a value add: Remember, this is a relatively new term and awareness is still being built. Even if the term hybrid resonates, employers and hiring committees might not know the larger context of how hybridity is a different way of working and how it adds value. You have to feel this moment out, but if it feels right, you can mention you’re a hybrid, and then say, “Have you ever heard of a hybrid professional before? Would you like me to explain what I mean?” And if they nod yes, then briefly share how some people are experts, others are generalists, and then there are people who integrate identities together (it might even mean multiple areas of expertise) and those are hybrids. Hybrids are a segment of the workforce that’s growing and hybrid jobs are growing twice as fast as traditional jobs because they can’t be automated or outsourced. Hybrid workers are a unique link in the chain of talent, and that’s why this organization needs you.

Go get ’em and best wishes on your interview prep.

Have thoughts or comments about your experience as a hybrid during an interview? Please share them with me.

(originally posted on



Creative Disruptor I Innovation Strategist I Systems Builder #MoreThanMyTitle #HybridProfessional

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Sarabeth Berk, Ph.D.

Creative Disruptor I Innovation Strategist I Systems Builder #MoreThanMyTitle #HybridProfessional