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 Selling Yourself in Job Interview

By Joe Stein

This is the aspect of the interview that usually results in cringes from a Job Seeker.  Many sigh when this topic is brought up and respond by saying, “But I am not going for a sales job”, or “I don’t like talking about myself in that way”.   The reality is selling your candidacy is a crucial part of the interview and will help in the process of differentiating yourself from the competition.

Let’s take a closer look at the art of selling yourself in an interview by first understanding why it is important, and then covering how to go about doing it successfully.

Why It Is Important:

• Display of Confidence – The act of selling yourself in a professional manner is a very effective way of showing that you have confidence in yourself.  This is especially important if you are seeking a position of leadership or decision-making.  Individuals in these types of roles can’t be timid or insecure in order to be successful in their role.

• Shows You Have Done Your Homework – Selling yourself effectively not only requires self-knowledge of yourself, but also a strong understanding of the role and company.  A Job Seeker who comes prepared and is ready to connect their skills and knowledge to the need, will rise to the top in the eyes of an Interviewer.

• Competition is Fierce – We all know the challenges of the current economy, but the reality is that often there are a number of qualified candidates for an open position.  Sometimes there is very little that differentiates the top candidates in consideration for the job.  It is imperative for you to assist the Interviewer in making sure he or she knows exactly what makes your special and why you should be the one selected.

• Tells the Hiring Manager You Want to Job – Everything including arriving promptly for the interview, your professional appearance, and your poise in answering questions will be evaluated.  By taking the interview seriously and giving your best effort, you will be communicating to the Hiring Manager how much you want to be hired.

How You Should Do It:

• Solve the Problem – Companies like “problem solvers”, regardless of the level in the organization.  Keep in mind a position is only open because there is an existing need. If there was not a need, then the job would not be filled, even if it is not a new job.  Do your best to understand what is truly the need for the company in having this position.  Asking probing questions during the course of the phone interview may help you in recognizing the problem prior to the in-person conversation. You can then work on how to sell yourself based on this information.  For example, if you are interviewing with a company that has a new piece of machinery and you are a Maintenance position skilled in its repair, then that is a fit to begin the process of selling.  The key is to connect with the Hiring Manager on how you can immediately add value.

• Provide Examples – Examples connect what you are saying about yourself to the reality of real life.  Without examples, your selling may come across as just empty bragging without substance.  For example, if you are an excellent Project Manager, quickly share a work team you have led.  If you have a reputation of strong fiscal responsibility, share about a budget savings you achieved.  Instead of just stating you have a strong work ethic, speak to how you worked extra overtime or took on a different role in order to help the company.

• Be Concise – No Interviewer wishes to sit through a long and rambling speech about how you should be hired.  Be prepared to be able to concisely sell why you are the person for the job.  Try to create a handful of important sound bites about previous successes you have had.  This will help prevent you from long “story telling”, and will leave the Interviewer with a handful of key points that should be much easier to remember.

• Respond and Redirect Questions – You do not want to ignore questions, so by all means answer them, but do it in a way that allows you to sell yourself.  Try to redirect the conversation back to your positive attributes and how they connect to the position. The idea is to not let the Hiring Manager dwell too long on any perceived weaknesses you may possess in his opinion.

• Stay Positive and Show Enthusiasm – It is much easier to come across as genuine when you “sell” yourself in a positive and enthusiastic way.  An overly direct, serious, and perhaps dour Job Seeker runs the risk of being labeled arrogant or too self-absorbed.  Do not try to sell yourself by being negative towards others, especially a previous employer or supervisor. Be yourself when you are selling and show that you really do want the job in front of you.

A savvy Job Seeker recognizes that a Hiring Manager has a choice to make regarding which qualified applicant will be selected for the open position.  Your ability to sell yourself specifically to the open position and how you will add value to the organization may be just what is needed to tip the scales in your favor and land you the job.