Trainer’s Tips_ Selling yourself to potential employers _ Capitol Technology University
Trainer’s Tips: Selling yourself to potential employers
By Sarah Alspaw, Director of Career Development and Student Success
Many students have told me they feel hesitant when asked to explain their strengths in an interview.
They feel as though highlighting their value and experience would be like bragging, and that humility is a more important trait.
That is a misperception.
An interview is not the time to be humble, for several reasons. To begin with, you will only have a few minutes to make a good impression. The person interviewing you does not have the time to get to know you and learn about your strengths firsthand.
Your skills could potentially bring value to the company. Being overly “humble” in this situation actually amounts to withholding information that is useful to the employer.
If you were helping someone pick a computer that is best for them, what would you say? You would likely find out what their needs are and help them pick a computer that fits those needs. The same applies to the job search and to interviews. The company has listed its needs in the job description; it is your job to show how you meet those needs.
An interview is just two people deciding if they want to do business together. The employer needs to sell the company to you just as much as you need to sell yourself to the employer. There has to be a good fit with both parties for the decision to hire you to end up a positive working relationship that will last. So, to ensure that they find the best fit, they need to ask you a lot of questions, and you need to answer them honestly and provide as much context as possible.
This allows them to get a good picture of who you are, what you bring to the table, what you value, your working style, and whether you’d be a good fit for the company culture. It benefits both parties when you provide as much information as possible, with detail and examples.
Again, listing your skills is just presenting them with your ‘specs’ in the sense that it just lets them know what they need to know to make an educated decision about whether to hire you.
Don’t get me wrong. Coming across as overly arrogant isn’t a wise tactic – but that’s a function of demeanor, not skills and experience. Present the skills you have as factual information, without exaggeration or distortion, and without getting defensive when follow-up questions are asked. Think of it this way: you’re presenting yourself as a product. You want to put yourself in the best light possible.
Some students do not know what skills or traits that they have that make them competitive. If this is you, I want to give you the same homework I give any student who is struggling with this. Now, this can get a little awkward or feel uncomfortable, but I promise it will be worth your time. I want you to approach your faculty, friends, former bosses, and family members, and ask them if they have noticed your strengths and weaknesses and if they can tell you what they’ve noticed.
I’m looking for very specific feedback — not just that you ‘work hard’ or are a ‘team player’ because everyone thinks they have those traits. I am looking for distinguishing skills or traits such as ‘can work autonomously’ or ‘goes over and above to help a customer’ or ‘can change and adapt quickly to changing requirements.’ Aim to identify attributes that set you apart from your peers and that distinguish you from other candidates.
You should also ask your respondents to give you an example or two of a time when you have demonstrated the attributes in question. Let’s say they describe you as someone who goes over and above for a client. Can they cite a particular example? Perhaps, for instance, a customer left their wallet at your workplace, and you took the trouble to mail it back to them. See how specific that is?
Once you’ve received that feedback, practice saying those things about yourself. This can sometimes be the hardest part. Remember, this is about helping the employer make an educated decision, so just listing these things as facts or past observations will summary maker free remove the personal feeling you have as a result of talking about yourself.
This paradigm shift should make you feel more comfortable talking about yourself in an interview. If you are a student or alumni of Capitol and you want to set-up a mock interview with me, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.