The Job Interview: How to Sell Yourself

In a job interview, the way you talk about yourself is a deciding factor in your success. Once you are in the hot seat, it's up to you to really sell yourself to the employer. Read more...

Your impressive résumé and glowing recommendations may be enough to land you an interview but they won’t get you the job. Once you are in the hot seat, it’s up to you to really sell yourself to the employer. As a job applicant, you are selling your personal brand to an employer, hoping they will entrust you with the role.

In a job interview, the way you talk about yourself is a deciding factor in your success. Every job interview is different  but some general principles can guide you in just about any interview, for any job. When you are talking about yourself and your experience, keep the following six points in mind.

1. Be the Solution

Companies fill or create positions because they have problems they want to solve, for instance, ineffective advertising or long customer-service lines. So prepare for an interview by identifying the problems hinted at in the job ad. (If there’s no job ad, research the company and industry.) Then, prepare examples detailing how you will solve those problems and how you have solved similar problems in the past. Practice telling stories about specific results you have achieved. And if you are interviewing for a career change, keep in mind that many problems such as a lack of effective project management or a breakdown of teamwork  are not industry-specific. Offering solutions to these problems is a great way to overcome a lack of directly applicable experience.

2. Be Specific

Avoid empty clichés. Be prepared to back up your claims about your skills or characteristics with relevant and specific stories. For example, don’t just say you “work well with others” talk about the types of teams you have worked with and what you have learned from them. Or if you plan to say you are “detail-oriented,” come to the interview prepared with a story about how your attention to detail saved a former employer money (or otherwise saved the day).

3. Prepare Sound Bites

Prepare three or four effective sound bites that highlight your skills and past successes. A sound bite is succinct and direct, so it’s catchy and easy to remember. For example, “I have designed logos for three top notch companies” or “My efficiency plan decreased product-delivery times by 15 percent without costing the company or “My detailed reporting and analytical skills have improved record keeping.”  When you are coming up with your sound bites, ask yourself, “What were my greatest accomplishments at my most recent job?” and “What sets me apart from other candidates?”

4. Prepare to Talk About Your Resume

Your resume and cover letter will likely form an outline for at least part of your interview. Because a resume has to be brief, it probably says many things that could be elaborated on or explained in more detail. Often a resume explains the “what” (for instance, “supervised two people, “developed a new strategy”). Use the interview to talk about the “how,” as well as skills you gained, praise you received and so on.

5. Be Aware of Nonverbal Communication

You say a lot about yourself with nonverbal language: your posture and your facial expressions, for instance. Sit up straight, leaning forward can make you seem closed off, as can holding a briefcase or purse in your lap. Maintain eye contact when answering interview questions, and smile frequently. Also, practice your handshake  with a friend: An overly aggressive handshake can be as off-putting as a limp one.

6. Be Positive

Avoid complaining about a former employer or company, laying blame at a former manager’s feet , doing so will likely make you seem difficult to work with (or disloyal). Even if you quit your last job in a rage because you had an incompetent manager, saying something like “I felt I was ready for a more challenging position, like this one seems to be” turns a potentially interview-killing situation into something that makes you look very attractive to a hiring manager.

7. Be a storyteller

Just as it is for brands, storytelling is crucial in an interview. Think of an interview as an opportunity to tell your personal brand story, Job seekers should present their attributes articulately, in a way that makes the most powerful statement. Be animated. Be enthusiastic. Above all, be authentic.”

8. Don’t Burn any Bridges

The last thing an individual should do is burn bridges with a former or present boss. Doing so can have a negative impact going forward on your career, not to mention come across to a potential employer as negative and one reason not to hire you.

When you go on a job interview – the bottom line is simple – Sell, sell and sell yourself.

Click here to watch a video by NdaniTv on why you shouldn’t talk bad about your former boss.