Sunday, February 24, 2008

Selling Yourself in Your Interviews

A current client has been wrestling with how to sell herself in her interviews. She is torn between the story she believes is the most true about her (that she is hard working, dedicated, and committed to doing the best work she can at any given point in time) versus the specific accomplishments that have come about as a result of her efforts. She prefers to tell the former, but as she goes through her interviews, she is beginning to realize that potential employers seem to be more interested in and tuned in to the latter.

It may be obvious that her best approach is to tell a combination of her own perspective and while at the same time being clear about how her work adds value for her employer. She, herself, may not put as much stock in the actual numbers, but she is becoming increasingly aware that unless she willingly communicates these numbers, she will always be at a disadvantage in the interview game. So, our coaching has helped her to tell stories that begin with: One of the things that makes me good at my work is my dedication to always giving my best effort in everything that I do. A recent example of this includes a project, where I . . . and then she goes on to detail the specific things she did that lead to a measurable result.

Regardless of how one forms and tells their stories, the strongest and most impactful ones will have at least three elements in them (in no particular order):
A brief and clear description of the steps, skills, and behaviors utilized to accomplish the task;
A report of the results achieved, in value-added language whenever possible;
A statement about how the two above make you unique and stand out from others who may have similar skill sets and achievements

By telling your stories in this way, you will have a much easier time selling yourself in your interviews. You will obviously need to give plenty of thought to crafting, and even rehearsing, these stories and the more stories you are prepared to tell this way, the more likely you will do well in your interviews. Best wishes in your job search.

Mark Guterman