I’ve been on both sides of the interviewing desk, both as the person being interviewed for the job, and the potential employer conducting the interview. Over the years, I’ve learned that many people haven’t given much thought to how they present themselves in the job market. It may help to think of yourself as a commodity and give some thought to how you would sell yourself to an employer.
Many of the questions potential employers ask are standard fare, such as, “Why should I hire you?” This is certainly a fair question with all the people applying for the job. Each one of them also feel they have a lot to offer. It’s surprising then how many people don’t have an answer for that question. Potential employers are looking for original answers, but more importantly, sincere answers. “You may have to teach me the job, but you won’t have to teach me to work,” is one possible answer. Another is, “I’m willing to go the extra mile to get the job done right,” or, “I’ll give you 110% every day I’m on the job.” The point is, you don’t want to say this if you aren’t prepared to back it up by doing it.
As you can see, the answers aren’t rocket science; they are just simple statements that show you’re a good choice for the job. They aren’t hard to come up with; it just involves taking the time to think through what your strong points are. Are you detail oriented? Potential employers love to hear that! Let them know you’ll pay attention to the details in order to get the job done right. Do you shine as part of a team? Let them know you’re able to be a team player as well as a leader. Do you work best unsupervised? Tell them you’re able to work well with minimal supervision. It’s how you present your strong points in a positive manner that will win you the job.
If you’re shy and find it difficult to sell yourself to potential employers, practice before you ever go into an interview. Lead with your strong points and don’t be afraid to own your good points. As long as you’re honest, you won’t sound arrogant. You may even want to practice with a friend until you’re comfortable talking about yourself. Think of it as selling yourself, because that’s really what it is. It’s okay to highlight your good points in an interview; believe me, there will be others who are also being interviewed who won’t be afraid to talk about their accomplishments.
If the questions you’re being asked are general in nature, answer them honestly. One of the worst things you can do is fall back on the standard, “I don’t know.” You should know. If you don’t, who does? o, when you are asked, “What do you like to do in your spare time?” try responding by tying your leisure activities to the work you’d be doing. “I like to read,” might be a good response if you’ll be doing research on the new job. Or, “I have several dogs and I love to walk them in the country,” if your new work will include a lot of walking. If nothing else, it lets your employer know you aren’t just spending your day sitting in front of the television waiting for someone else to entertain you!
Presenting yourself in a positive manner during an interview isn’t all that hard. Make a list of your good points and think about the type of work for which you’ll be interviewing. Then, tie the two together if you can. Keep a couple of key words in mind when you go in so when you’re asked, you can pull your answers up quickly. You’ll impress your interviewer with how prepared you are…and you might just shine enough to get the job!