Selling Yourself at Interview
So you’ve perfected your CV, crafted the perfect covering letter, spent dozens of hours filling in job applications detailing every single aspect of your life history and then finally after weeks of no responses here is the news you have been waiting for; you have been invited to interview for your dream job! Great news – but for many now the real work begins!
As typical Brits with our self-deprecating stiff upper lips we all tend to be terribly hopeless at selling ourselves. It’s one thing doing it on paper (even though describing any of your skills on your CV as ‘excellent’ or your personality as ‘outgoing’ makes you break out in a cold sweat), it’s quite another doing so in person. The best advice I can give is PREPARATION IS KEY.
Most candidates see interview prep as delving into the company’s history and knowing everything you can about the business – and that is part of it - but the best preparation you can do for an interview is delve into you own history and know everything about you…Sounds simple right!?
Here are a few tips which will hopefully help you on your way:
- Write a list of all of your strengths, achievements and key skills.
- Now you’ve got to understand your strengths and most importantly how these strengths will be beneficial to the company you want to work for. Read the job description carefully and highlight key criteria, then consider how your strengths would apply to this. For example if they are looking for someone with “a proven background of leading a team from the front with excellent people management skills” it is clearly important that they need someone confident yet approachable and someone who can make sure their voice is heard. You need to get this across in the interview, not just when answering a specific question but in the way you present yourself throughout.
- Think of key examples from your most recent work history where you have demonstrated the skills they are looking for. Have around 5 examples in your mind before the interview which can be applied to a few different scenarios so you are prepared in advance and feel confident delivering the information to the Interviewer. Again the job description is a key tool to this prep as the Interviewer will ask you about your ability to do x, y and z from brief, so you can know in advance what to plan for. A good tip at this point is to think of a beginning, middle and end with your examples, so you don’t go off on a tangent. Keep it succinct; what was the situation, how did you deal with it, what was the outcome?
- Don’t forget about non-verbal communication as your body language says a lot about you. Make sure you sit up straight, smile frequently and make eye contact – if you do all of these things not only will you come across as more confident, but you will feel it as well. How is this prep I hear you ask – well don’t just do these things in the interview do them from the minute you wake up that day. Sit up straight eating your breakfast, smile at the lady across from you on the train (without being creepy!), and make eye contact with the Barista in Costa! This is all part of your prep and will help...promise!
- Be comfortable and confident in what you are wearing. Your interview outfit is important, not only to demonstrate to the person interviewing you that you understand the company culture and would be a good ambassador for their ‘brand’, but also to help you feel like your most fabulous and confident self. If you can’t walk in heels don’t! Go for a smart pair of flats which look professional and ensure you don’t fall into the interview room head first! Feel like your Dad when you put on a suit? Go for smart chinos, a shirt and a blazer. Your outfit should feel comfortable and reflect your personality, whilst being smart and appropriate for the culture of the company you are meeting.
- Be positive! You wouldn’t be going for the job if you didn’t think you could do it. You know you can do it, you understand the job and you now have a clear understanding of what makes you the perfect candidate as you can apply your strengths to each area of the brief. Don’t doubt yourself and the interviewer will be a lot less likely to doubt you. You got this.