Lauren Caggiano is a Fort Wayne-based copywriter and editor with a nerdy passion for AP Style. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering, thrift shopping, fitness and travel. Learn more on her website: www.lovewriteon.com.
Maybe you have your eye on a job at another company or you want to try for a promotion internally. Either way, interviewing for a job can be anxiety-inducing for even the most well-adjusted person.
What to wear? What to say? What not to say? Will they like me? These are questions many ponder ahead of the experience.
The secret that many don’t share is that success (or failure) really hinges on how you sell yourself in the interview. Think of the experience as a performance of some sort. Of course, you're starring as yourself, albeit perhaps a more confident and put together version of how you carry yourself around friends and family.
That said, you’re going to make sure you have the following skills dialed in before showing up for the interview:
- Craft your first impression: When asked “tell me about yourself?” you need to provide something that piques the interviewer’s interest. They don’t want a summary of your career trajectory. That’s boring and one-dimensional! Instead, they want to hear some key highlights and why your experience makes you the ideal person for this role.
Remember, you’re in control of your narrative. Take care to weave together a compelling story that makes you memorable.
- Sell your strengths: This isn’t the occasion to be modest. You can — and should— talk up your strong points and past accomplishments on the job. The more specific the better. For instance, you might say, “I managed a department of 15 sales associates responsible for $2 million in sales a year.” What does this say about your abilities? You’re probably goal-driven, a team player and can work well under pressure, among other things. But don’t assume they’ll know that — be explicit in your case for why you’re the star candidate.
- Prepare talking points: In an interview setting, you want to be prepared but not stuffy or robotic. Having some talking points written down will jog your memory but don’t memorize them word for word. It should be more of a conversation than a one-sided presentation.
Again, storytelling can be your secret weapon here. What highlights can you share about your contributions in each role? What problems did you solve and with what solutions? How are these wins relevant to the job at hand? Be sure to connect the dots and be prepared for interjections and follow-up questions.
- End on a high note: Again, you have some agency in setting the tone of the interview. Instead of asking for feedback about your performance at the end of the interview — which can make some HR professionals uncomfortable — try this trick. End on a positive note by asking something like, “what do you think are the most important qualities for someone in this role?” Posing this question may provide you with another opportunity to instill in them why you’re the most qualified person for the job. Just like first impressions matter, the final exchange can seal the deal, too.
Here’s to putting your best foot forward!