So often I hear clients lament that, while they think they can perform pretty well in an interview, they really dislike selling themselves. What are the push-backs I hear most often?
“It feels like bragging – exaggerating my abilities.”
“I’m taking all the credit for what the team I was on did.”
“It makes me uncomfortable to sing my own praises.”
Like it or not, interviewing is part of your marketing plan. You are the product. You have the experience, skills and achievements that will add value to the company. No one else is going to sell you for the job. [Hopefully, your well-chosen references will reinforce your value after the interview!!!]
It is what it is. Rehearse your responses to the inevitable question, “why should we hire you.” Create your personal value proposition to address this question. It should contain the value you bring to the table – your differentiators from your competitors. Deliver it with words and in a manner that you’re comfortable with. As you respond to questions, you want to continuously demonstrate how you are the best fit for the job. Be positive and interesting!!
If you don’t accept selling yourself as part of your responsibility in the interview, you risk losing the offer. Believe me, your competitors will not be so shy! You can use statements like “my bosses have always commended me on my ability to do such and such [fill in the blank].” Or, “previous co-workers have sought me out for my [fill in the blank] skills and expertise.” Or, “I’ve been fortunate throughout my career thus far to receive awards for [fill in the blank].”
One of your goals in interviewing should be to find opportunities to sell additional credentials as a match for their requirements. To accomplish this, a good strategy is to adopt a consultative selling approach. Think of your interviewer as your client and you as the consultant. Your “hidden agenda” in the interview is to identify opportunities to showcase experience and competencies that support your fit that the interviewer may never uncover through traditional questioning. Sometimes you have to create these opportunities. A good way to do so is to ask a strategic, relevant, penetrating question. “What keeps you awake at night?” “In my research on your company, I see that you’ll be going through a huge expansion next quarter. What are your major concerns?” Remember, get comfortable selling yourself – but sell what they are needing, not what you might prefer to sell [that may have no bearing on job requirements]. Don’t go “off point.”
As with any “sales call,” you have to know when to close. Listen and look for positive feedback and signs from the interviewer that corroborate that you’ve done a good job. Don’t continue selling when you’ve already made the sale! Stop talking, listen and give the interviewer a chance to hire you!