When it comes to preparing for job interviews, a great number of people I help tell me that one of their biggest problems with the process is that they find it hard to talk about themselves. They say that from an early age they’ve been taught not to boast about themselves and so to sit down and tell an interviewer how great they are is hard because it’s just not something they are comfortable with.
Fair enough. Now while I don’t advise being boastful to anyone preparing for an interview, I do look and listen for reasons a person may not have a history of excelling in the interview process and so if this is a widespread issue it needs addressing.
What’s really needed to overcome this situation is a re-framing of what it means to articulate ones strengths and then market these strengths as assets to be desired by the employer. Keep in mind that the employer, as represented by the person or people conducting the job interview, is evaluating each applicant against the company’s needs. The candidate(s) who most closely fulfill those needs are the ones offered employment.
So you have a problem with boasting about yourself? Excellent! I couldn’t agree with you more so please don’t think I’m going to try to convince you that in job interviews you should make an exception and do exactly that. Let’s be clear however what boasting actually is though shall we? Boasting is exaggerating ones abilities beyond what they truly are.
The major issue with boasting is that you have to live up to whatever claims you make, and if you said, “I’m the best Plumber in the entire mid-west”, what kind of proof could you offer up to make this claim as an empirical fact? Unless they have some event pitting all the people in that trade against one another to determine the very best, you’d be hard pressed to have people just take you at your word.
Don’t be boastful then. Yes mom and dad and/or your childhood teachers were right.
However, I do advocate and strongly advise that you market yourself in the same way marketing firms promote products and services to we consumers. Not only do they tell us what products are, they would have us believe that the benefits of those products are so good that we simply have to have them. They promote the products often and in a way that attracts the attention of those to whom they see as their target audience. Their goal? Be memorable and prompt you and I as the consumers to act and purchase the products.
Like those commercials, you too should walk away from any job interview feeling that you’ve made an impression on the interviewer(s). You want to be memorable and the best way to accomplish this is to sell them on how having you join the organization is going to benefit them.
Make no mistake about this; you can accomplish this whether you are shy and naturally a reserved person or a confident extrovert. It’s not about how loud you are but rather how well you communicate what it is that will as I say benefit the company. Are you a solution to their problem? Will you bring stability to the position? Is your combination of experience, education and personality going to mesh with those who you’ll work with better than any other candidate?
So how do you go about selling yourself without being boastful? First off, know yourself. No seriously! No one has taken the same path in life to get where you are right now, so what have you done, learned, overcome, struggled with in the past, achieved, accomplished, been noted by previous employers and co-workers as your strengths and desirable attributes? If you shared this information with an interview in a matter-of-fact way, you’d be marketing yourself not boasting about yourself.
Try this out loud: “I am a ________.” (Name of your profession.) Now say this out loud: “I am a good ________.” Now say out loud, “I am a very good _______.” While most readers will find they were able to state their job title in the first sentence with relative ease, the number of people who were able to go on and say they were good and then very good at it drops off as the one word accelerates the degree to which you state your high worth. So would you be able to say, “I am an excellent ___________?”
Understand that a company ideally wants to hire the best candidate for a job opening. They count on applicants to share with them the information they’ll need upon which to base their hiring decisions. Even if they don’t ask it outright, they are constantly thinking, “Why should I hire you?” It’s up to you to give them examples from your past which prove you have the skills you say you do – and examples by the way keep you from making claims you can’t support (boasting!).
Think to yourself: Okay here’s who I am; these are my strengths. I’ve accomplished these things and here’s what others have complimented or appreciated about me in places I’ve worked. I’m a good fit for this job based on my personality, attitude, qualifications and personal motivation. You’d be well-advised to show some enthusiasm for the position too.
Boasting and marketing are not the same thing. Market yourself dear reader!