So you’ve got to the job interview stage again and you’re feeling the typical nerves you always feel. If only they would look at your resume and hire you based on that, but instead they want to meet you and conduct a job interview. Ah well so be it.
During the interview you just know they’ll likely ask you about your strengths, why they should hire you, why you’re the right person for the job or something similar. Why is it that for some reason you feel you never do a good job selling yourself? Maybe it’s that you were brought up to believe you shouldn’t brag about yourself. Possibly your just not comfortable doing so, and honestly, you wonder how you could possibly convince them you’re the best person for the job when you’ve never met let alone talked to the competition. Maybe you’re not the best person for the job in the end.
I can help you with an exercise so that you can talk with confidence about yourself without feeling boastful. For this exercise you’ll need a pen; just a standard ordinary pen you’ve got no doubt nearby. Please go get one now and then resume reading.
Okay let’s look at this pen you’ve got before you. First I want you to name some of the features of the pen; it’s construction. Hold it in your hand and you may notice its light weight. Perhaps there’s a clip on the pen, the ink is black, and it may be slim or have a soft spot near the end that your thumb and index finger hold onto. The pen might have a retractable tip that appears and disappears with a click or twist. Finally you surmise that another feature of the pen is that it’s relatively cheap to buy.
Now that you’ve identified the features of the pen, I want you to go back and identify a benefit for each feature. So as its light weight, you can use it longer without fatigue. The benefit of the clip is you can attach it to a pocket or notebook thus freeing up your hands and reducing the chance of losing it. The benefit of the black ink is that it’s a standard for many contracts. Being slim, it’s easy to grip, and the soft spot to hold onto makes it comfortable to hold for long periods. The benefit of the retractable tip is that there is no cap to misplace, and when you put it in your pocket, you’ll avoid staining your clothes. Finally, the price feature means if you lose it, it will be easily replaced at a low or fair price you can afford.
Now, you’ve completed the exercise in identifying features and benefits of the pen. You should have a good idea of not only what goes into the pen but the benefit of ownership. The next thing to do at this point is to turn and think about yourself and the job opportunity before you.
Consider your features and your benefits. Look first at your academic qualifications; your masters, degrees, diplomas and certificates. Once you name them, consider of each of these of benefit to you; how they will enable you to do this job you are considering better than had you not received them. They have provided you with knowledge and a perspective you would not otherwise have.
Think too of your soft skills; personality, overall demeanor, your philosophy as you go about your day. How do these features that make up who you are, translate into a benefit the employer would realize should they hire you? Perhaps your positive attitude would be a breath of fresh air in the organization, especially when interacting with clients and customers.
This is also where you can look at a topic most people are coached to avoid talking about at all costs; your age. Your age is your feature. How I put it to you, would your age benefit the employer? As an older person, perhaps your age would approximate your target customer base; and older customers might identify with older employees. Maybe your age has brought you wisdom, an appreciation for diverse ideas, the experience and maturity that translates into a solid attendance record. Maybe the employer will benefit from your stability on the team and your ability to mentor its younger employees.
Should you be young and find you’re not taken seriously by employers, your youth is your feature, and the benefit to the employer might be your up-to-date knowledge and use of technology. Your employer will benefit from your experience with social media; you’ll have the energy to work productively the entire day without a letdown in the afternoon. The employer will also benefit from your enthusiasm and good health; for you won’t have declining health issues for years.
Okay so back in the interview, the key to this exercise is to highlight for the interviewer exactly how the employer will benefit from hiring you. This isn’t boasting but rather marketing. Market yourself to the employer’s needs; here are my features and here’s the benefit of each feature. So don’t just say in answer to the question, “Tell me about yourself” that you have a degree. Instead say you’ve got a degree and the benefit of this is that you’ve acquired a deep appreciation for the field of work, and that translates into better performance.