It’s an exciting time: You’ve worked hard in your career, and you’ve got serious cred and skills to show for it. You’ve been sending your resume to all the teams you’d like to join. You polish, you network, you space those bullet points just exactly right. Then comes the call: You’ve landed an interview!
Now it’s time to get to work.
You might be thinking, “Wait, haven’t I done all the work already?” But in a competitive job market like today’s, you want to shine in your interview. That means preparing to talk about yourself in a way that promotes what you have to offer, without coming across like a blowhard.
It’s easier for some folks than for others to talk about our strengths. For example, studies have shown that men often find it easier to promote themselves in career-related endeavors than women do. While this isn’t always the case, of course, it’s a factor that’s led to inequity in pay and promotion opportunities between the genders.
If you’re someone who struggles with self-promotion, here are some tips to get you prepared.
Identify Your Strengths
Some questions to ask to help you figure out what you’re best at:
- What work have I been most proud of?
- What have others told me I’m good at?
- What do I enjoy doing?
- Are there specifics that led to a recent promotion, bonus, or other recognition?
You can also find lots of online tests to help you identify your strengths, such as StrengthsFinder and 16Personalities.
Tie Your Strengths to Specific Experiences
Humans are naturally drawn to a good story. Visual learners see the pictures a story paints, auditory learners focus on words of a story that have nothing to do with the corporate buzz jargon we’ve all become numb to, and kinesthetic learners respond to the emotions a story evokes.
The more stories you can tell your prospective employer that demonstrate your strengths, the better. If one of your strengths is event planning, and you know that because you planned and executed the best darn Bring Your Kid to Work Day that your last company ever saw, tell your interviewer all about it. Or, if your strength is fast, accurate coding, tell your interviewer about the last database you built – what it was for, why it was so awesome, and how you went about it.
When it comes down to it, you sometimes have as few as 30 minutes, maybe 60 if you’re lucky, to make your interview memorable. So focus on your strengths, and leave your prospective employer dazzled by the stories behind them.