Are you preparing for a job interview and feeling unsure of how to make the best impression on your potential employer? Don’t worry—the key to success is all about confidently and effectively presenting yourself and your professional experience.
Knowing how to sell yourself in an interview can help you rise above other candidates and stand out from the crowd, putting your best foot forward.
So if you’re ready to learn, you’ve come to the right place. Here are effective ways to sell yourself in an interview, along with examples, so that you can ace your next interview with flying colors.
Arno Markus, BA, MSc., CPRW
Make an impression through what you wear
Whether it’s a video or a face-to-face interview, make sure you wear a clean and smart outfit. What you wear for your interviews says a lot about you as a person.
If you wear a smart outfit, it shows you have high standards, and it shows that you care and I do know lots of hiring managers and recruiters who will not take somebody on if they fail to make an impression through what they wear in an interview.
Have a positive answer ready and for the question, “tell me about yourself”
Make sure you have a positive answer ready and prepared for the first interview question, “tell me about yourself.” This will be the first interview question asked, and they may pose it as introduce yourself, but either way, you have to get off to a flying start in your job interview.
So when you respond, cover the following three things:
- The skills and qualities you have
- The experience you possess
- The type of person you are
Now, if this is your first job, simply swap experience for your educational qualifications.
Research the company
Make sure you research the company you were applying to join because most candidates do little or no research and then fail the interview. When the interviewer says to you, “what do you know about our company” not many people can answer this because they are only interested in landing a job.
They’re not bothered about the company they’re working for, but that’s a way to fail the interview.
Have a look at their website about:
- The product and services that they offer
- For any company values in any mission statement and learn it
- Any positive news stories or future plans that they have now
You can normally find all these things on their website so just spend 5 or 10 minutes researching the company.
Ask smart questions at the end of the interview
My advice is to ask them three questions.
- Question #1: “What would you need me to concentrate on in the first 30 days of starting this role?” That shows that you are already visualizing yourself in the role and want to do a good job.
- Question #2: “What’s the culture like within the organization?”
- Question #3: “Has anything frustrated you about previous employees who have held this position?”
Those three really good questions will help you sell yourself in an interview.
Related: 50+ Good Questions to Ask in an Interview as an Interviewee
Sell yourself positively and confidently when they ask why they should hire you
They are going to say this to you. Now, this is your opportunity to stand out from the other candidates. When you answer the interview question “why should we hire you,” give three reasons why they should hire you, not one.
The majority of candidates will just give one reason. They will say something along the lines of: “I’m a hard worker, and I will always do a good job.” That’s no good; that will not land you the job.
You should also give three things that are of benefit to the employer. Remember, they’re looking to hire somebody that is going to be a benefit to them.
Where possible, give evidence of how you performed in the past
Most employers and hiring managers score evidence as the most crucial criterion during a job interview.
So if you’re asked a behavioral interview question such as, “tell me about a time when you had a conflict in a team,” make sure you give evidence of where you’ve been in a situation where this has happened previously.
Now, if this is your first job and you have never been in a situation, give them an example of where you observed somebody else dealing with the situation.
So if they say, “can you give me an example of where you provided excellent customer service,” respond with, “I’ve not been in that situation; however, I’ve witnessed good service being provided lots of times in the past, and this is what I witnessed.”
In conclusion, job interviews can be daunting for anyone. However, there are certain tried and tested techniques that you can use to stand out from the other candidates. With these tips and plenty of preparation, you can be sure to impress the interviewer!
Art Dielhenn, CPCC
Certified Career Coach, Los Angeles Coaching | Author, “Get Out Of Your Head, It’s A Mess In There!“
Self-management is the key
I used to go into interviews panicked, anxious, and lacking self-confidence. My heart raced. I felt desperate and full of expectations of either doing well in the interview or blowing it up and leaving mad and upset with myself.
Related: Why is Self Confidence Important?
Interviews are hard for some of us. Self-management is the key. Go in, not expecting anything. Chat as if talking with a friend or advocate. You wouldn’t be there if they didn’t want you there. Let you shine through!
Stay in the moment and listen
I used to think that talking was the most crucial part of an interview, but I’ve learned that listening is equally important.
But who are you listening to? Level one listening is listening to yourself; the sound of your heart beating, your fears, your expectations, and your discomfort. If you are listening at this level, then put your feelings aside, stop listening to your inner critic and concentrate on what your interviewer has to say.
Listen and hear at level two. Be sensitive to the room and how it’s going, and make adjustments if needed. Clear your mind, stay in the moment, and be curious. Don’t speak out of nervousness to fill the silence. Wait for the question.
Know the business
Research the business and position you are seeking. This is critical. Know the terrain. Ask intelligent questions that let the interviewer know that you understand the business and can be effective in the environment.
Don’t sell yourself; Sell your experience and skills as a solution
Ask how you can be of service in solving their needs. Then prove you have the tools to do it. Selling yourself feels personal—take that out of the equation (it only gets in the way. see #1).
Who you are will become self-evident as the interview progresses. Instead, focus on how you can be the solution to their needs and problems.
Use a weakness to pitch a strength
I always dreaded the question, “Where do you have difficulty of what are your weaknesses?” I used to flummox around trying to answer. It was very uncomfortable.
Related: How to Best Answer “What Are Your Weaknesses?” in a Job Interview
Now I use the question as a way to show how I solved the weakness. I might say:
“A weakness I’ve been focusing on recently is follow-up. I realized I needed a better system. So I created computer prompts reminders, and my follow-up sales have grown significantly.”
Why this approach? Because it lets the interviewer know that you are willing to admit areas of weakness, but more importantly, that you are smart enough and professional enough to fix them.
So presenting yourself as a problem solver, aware, efficient, and flexible enough to change.
Be an advocate and build influence
This can be tricky, Advocate for them but also for yourself without being too prideful or pushy. They want to know that you can stand up for yourself and do the job.
If you are passive, then they don’t get a clear picture of who you are or how you might fit in.
Effective leaders want good solid, intelligent, self-starters to whom they can delegate. Present as a strong, capable team member ready and able to get to work.
Dressed appropriately and have fun
Go into your interview dressed appropriately to the company standard with the intention of having fun, making a new friend, and being at your best.
Related: What Are the Best and Worst Colors to Wear to a Job Interview?
Career Coach and Career Counselor, Allucere Coaching
Structure your answers and highlight your successes
An interview is an opportunity to sell yourself as the best candidate, though most people don’t highlight their biggest selling point: their successes.
In interviews, you should focus on providing brief, structured responses that highlight both what you’ve done in work and how successful you were.
The best way to do this is to use the STAR interview method. STAR is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, and Result.
You should use the STAR method when answering questions like, “Tell me about a time when…” or “In this job, you’ll have to get XYZ done; how would you go about that?”
When you are faced with these questions:
- Start by explaining the situation or the problem.
- Briefly describe the task at hand.
- Detail the steps you took to accomplish the task.
- Finish your answer by explaining your results.
By using the STAR method, you can keep your response to a few sentences and highlight how results-oriented you are.
Let’s practice an example. Imagine you are interviewing for a project management role, and the interviewer asks, “Tell me about a project with many stakeholders. How did you manage those stakeholders?“
- Start by explaining the situation
“When I was a human resources project manager, we created a new enterprise-wide training program for high-performing employees to retain these top talents and prepare them for promotions. This involved working with every part of the organization, including executive teams.”
- Then, explain the task at hand
“Each part of the organization had multiple stakeholders with varying levels of power and needs. I had to first know every stakeholder, co-create training priorities with them, and agree on training outcomes.”
- Next, describe the actions you took
“To do this, I created a stakeholder map that outlined each stakeholder, their title, and the team they belonged to. Since there were so many stakeholders, I delegated people in the project team to be points of contact for each team.
Lastly, I scheduled meetings with each stakeholder to co-create training priorities and agree on training outcomes. I documented the results of these meetings in a standardized document in a single, shareable location.
- Finally, explain your results
“As a result, we had very strong relationships with our stakeholders. They were happy to have a point of contact dedicated to them, they were clear on their expectations since it was documented, and the project team had an easy time navigating their relationships using our stakeholder map. Because of this, the project was launched on time.”
The STAR method is the best way to stand out in an interview, but it only comes naturally with practice.
If you have an interview coming up, search for some common interview questions and practice the STAR method in writing, aloud to yourself or aloud to a friend. After some practice, you’ll become a natural, succinct interviewer and position yourself as a top candidate.
Jacqueline Victoria Grant
Recruiter and Certified Professional Career Coach, JVG Strategies
Have results-based responses
The biggest lost opportunity to sell yourself is when the interviewer asks you a question, and you tell them what you did by listing a laundry-list of job tasks and responsibilities versus what results you achieved.
For example, instead of “I was a corporate recruiter at XYZ company for x years where I did full-cycle recruitment,” add statements such as “I worked on xyz project which resulted in an increase of our new hire retention rate by x%” or “improved time-to-hire by 30%”.
Use metrics if you can—this helps people quantify the scale and impact of what you’ve done. Think of KPIs or metrics you used in your previous roles and how you can share a few to demonstrate your value and tell your success stories.
Be the best-prepared candidate the company meets with
Don’t just read over the job description and get on the company’s website for a quick glance before your interview. Bring the wow factor and deep dive into research so you can be the most prepared candidate out there.
Get on google news—what’s happened with that company in the news lately? Go on the LinkedIn pages of key individuals you’re interviewing with and understand their journey.
Then, in the interview, you can show your ability to build rapport and connection by being curious about them and asking about their experiences.
- What’s the industry like?
- Who are their competitors?
- What are their products or services?
- What’s the business model?
- How does the company drive its revenue?
If you are well-informed and have done your research, you’ll be able to have well-informed discussions in the interview, naturally improving your confidence.
This sells you more as a candidate because the interviewers will see you as proactive and competent and get the impression that you really care about this company and opportunity.
People remember stories. Storytelling also gets you buy-in from your audience. i.e., Just saying you’re resourceful won’t convince me. Telling me a story about how you were resourceful gives me concrete context as to why that statement is true.
Related: How to Get Better at Storytelling?
My advice for candidates is to choose five stories that demonstrate why you’re a strong candidate for the role.
You should have some accomplishment-based stories (i.e., times you went above and beyond, achieved something, or met a goal) and resilience-based stories (times you failed, made a mistake, or faced a challenge).
You can use the S-T-A-R method to structure your stories—Situation, Task, Action, and Result.
Ask seller questions, not buyer questions
Asking questions only about the compensation package or the company’s work-life balance are buyer questions. These types of questions translate to: “what’s in it for me?”
Buyer questions are fine if asked in moderation and at the appropriate times, but your high-priority interview questions should focus on positioning yourself as the seller, not the buyer.
For example, a seller question could be anything that demonstrates your value simply by asking that question. It could be a research-based question that shows how informed you are or how much you understand the company’s product.
Or the question could demonstrate your eagerness to do well, such as “What can I do within the first 30 days of being hired to be most successful in this role?” This question translates to your desire to add value and therefore sells you more as a candidate.
Close your interview
Closing the interview is an effective way to demonstrate interest, confidence, and leadership. If done effectively, it will leave your interview on a positive note and solidify your chances of being moved forward in the recruitment process.
Four things to be done here:
- Check for objections
I’ve heard some interview coaches and career coaches recommend asking, “do you have any concerns about my candidacy?” in the interview close.
I understand the thinking behind this, as it is a direct way of uncovering the interviewer’s possible objections to you as a candidate, and then, therefore, you can address those objections at the moment.
However, I’ve also heard many hiring managers and recruiters say that this question leaves the interview in a negative tone and puts the interviewer on the spot.
Try asking instead, “is there anything else about my skills or experience that I can clarify for you.” This question is more curious and helpful but also can uproot possible objections.
Then, don’t forget to:
- Re-express your interest in the role.
- Ask about the next steps.
- Thank the interviewer for their time.
Career Expert, Monster
Prepare for the interview with anecdotes
Before any interview, even the first phone screen, take time to prepare to answer questions you’ll be asked simply by starting to review commonly asked questions. Get in the headspace to briefly highlight your strengths while providing anecdotes to support them.
For instance, in behavioral-based interview questions, interviewers may ask something like: “Tell me about a situation when things didn’t go as planned. What happened, and how did you handle it?”
I’m a former corporate recruiter, and typically these questions probe further, asking candidates to reveal situations to support what they say.
For instance, instead of saying, “I work well with conflict,” you would need to speak about perhaps a client situation when there was a conflict to illustrate yes, you really do work well with conflict. Take time to thoughtfully prepare your responses.
Study the job description
Re-read the job description before the interview to identify the top three or four responsibilities and requirements. The interviewer will probably focus on these aspects the most, so when you prepare your selling points (more below), you can emphasize these attributes to exceed their expectations.
Highlight your selling points
Identify your top skills, such as technical skills, to showcase how you can do the job. After all, you’ve already been there, done that with a previous job, and connected the dots for transferable skills to convince interviewers you can excel at the job because you’ve already mastered the skills (or similar skills) in another role.
It’s not only the technical skills that count—highlight your soft skills, too, which are applicable to every job, such as:
- Time management
- Project management
- Leadership skills
- Communication skills
Master the pivot
Sometimes selling yourself means you’re able to talk about uncomfortable things like maybe you left a toxic job without a new one lined up, so there’s a gap on your resume.
Recruiters will likely identify red flags immediately, which could be a potential one, but how you answer them can be revealing.
You may say something like, “I mastered the job to the best of my ability and was working 80 hours a week which is why I’m interested in this job; it seems like I can dive in to start working while having a 40-hour work week…”
Be succinct in addressing any potential red flags raised by the employer (or get ahead of it and address it without them asking!), and then pivot into why you’re both interested in the job and the best candidate for it.
Build rapport with interviewers
Another way to build rapport involves not only answering the questions but building rapport with interviewers. Remember, you’re interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing you!
Focus on communication, listening/leaning in as they speak, your body language, eye contact, and, if it’s in person, of course, a firm handshake.
Say thank you
The last way to seal the selling process is often overlooked but shouldn’t be. As you express interest in the position and ask about the next steps, within 24 hours of the interview’s conclusion, send a thank-you to the interviewer. This could be via email or snail mail.
In fact, when I worked in recruiting, very few candidates did both, but it made them really stand out. There’s no reason to not send a quick email (quick doesn’t mean hastily, though—while it only takes a couple of minutes, re-read it to check for grammatical errors and typos).
Snail mail will go the extra mile if the interview occurred in the office and you know their mailing address, but due to the immediacy of email, I suggest sending both.
Receiving a hard copy handwritten thank you note is a lost art, and when the interviewer receives it a few days after your interview, this nice additional touch (that, again, only takes a few minutes) can help sell yourself as a candidate.
Cofounder and Resume Writer, Final Draft Resumes
When selling yourself during a job interview, it’s important to highlight your qualifications and experience that are most relevant to the position you’re applying for and demonstrate how those qualifications and experiences make you a strong candidate for the job.
Talk about your relevant experience
If you have previous experience in a similar role, be sure to highlight that experience and talk about the specific tasks and responsibilities you handled and any successes or accomplishments you had in that role.
For example: “In my previous role as a marketing coordinator, I managed a team of designers and copywriters to create and launch successful social media campaigns. I was able to increase the company’s social media following by 20% in just six months.”
Demonstrate your qualifications
If you have a certain set of skills or qualifications relevant to the position, be sure to highlight those as well.
For example: “As a computer science major, I have a strong understanding of programming languages such as Python, C++, and Java. I can use this knowledge to develop and maintain software applications in a fast-paced environment.”
Show you’re passionate about the company and the role you’re applying for
Employers want to see that you’re not just looking for a job but that you’re passionate about the company and the role you’re applying for.
For example: “I’ve been following your company for a long time now, and I’m really impressed with your innovative products and services. I’m excited about the opportunity to be a part of the team and contribute my skills and experience to help the company grow and succeed.”
Tailor your answers and research the company beforehand
This way, you can show that you’re familiar with the company’s mission, values, and products/services.
For example: “I noticed that your company is focused on promoting sustainability and eco-friendly practices, which aligns with my personal values. I would be honored to be a part of the team and help drive these initiatives forward.”
Show your potential
Show what you can bring to the table in the future and how you’re willing to learn.
For example: “I may not have all the experience you’re looking for in this role, but I’m a quick learner, and I’m excited to learn new things. I believe I have the potential to become a valuable asset to the team, and I’m eager to work hard and grow with the company.”
It’s important to note that these are examples, and it’s always best to be honest, authentic, and tailor to the company and role you are applying for.
President, Hurwitz Strategic Staffing, Ltd.
Avoid showing off as being “woke”
Many employers today are concerned about “wokeism.” They see it as a threat to their corporate culture. So, to eliminate the concern, my client said:
“When you hire someone, just as when you purchase something, you are looking to solve a problem, not create new or additional problems.
I am a professional. I am not woke. If something bothers me, I will speak politely and professionally with the person. If that does not work, I will go to my supervisor for advice. In any event, I will not wear out the carpet from my desk and HR every time I think someone has looked at me funny.”
Follow up with a thank you mail and relate it to each interviewer
The interview includes follow-up. That means, first and foremost, the thank-you email, which must be sent to each interviewer on the same day as the interview. They cannot be generic; they must relate to the interviewer and prove that the candidate listened to and understood their concerns.
There is a very easy way to do this. Ask each interviewer, “If I get this job, how will I be able to make your life easier?” Their answer should be the focus of the thank-you email.
Go deep dive into the company
Candidates must differentiate themselves from their competition. Most candidates simply learn the corporate website, so when asked, “What do you know about us?” they basically regurgitate what they read.
My clients do a deep dive. First, they Google the company to find press releases or articles not linked to the website. They also look at the company’s social media presence.
So, once they have regurgitated the website, they then add:
“But I’m curious about a couple of other things. I found online a press release you issued about [insert topic]. There was no mention of it on your website. I was curious about what happened. It sounded interesting to me.
Also, I looked at your Twitter account and saw that you follow XYZ. They are located in Spain. Are you planning on expanding into the EU, and, if so, how will you deal with their privacy laws, the GDPR?”
The interviewers probably will not know what in the world the candidate is talking about. That’s a good thing.
They’ll report back to the decision-makers, “[Name of candidate] asked me about this, that, and the other thing. What was he talking about?” And the decision maker’s response will be, “He does his homework. Hire him!”
Global HR Director at Trevolution Group, Dyninno Group of Companies
Be honest from the very beginning
Let us get it straight: Honesty is one of the most demanded and sought-after qualities employers look for in potential hires. If you are not honest from the very beginning, your interviewer will eventually find out.
Being honest during a job interview means you are honest about your qualifications, work experience, and skill set.
It is vital for the candidate to effectively communicate their qualifications and how they can add value to the company.
- Researching the company beforehand to demonstrate your interest and commitment to the role
- Tailoring your answers to align with the company’s goals and mission
- Highlighting your accomplishments and successes with specific examples and statistics
- Being prepared to ask thoughtful questions.
Additionally, it is important to demonstrate enthusiasm and confidence during the interview process.
One effective way to sell yourself in an interview is to give specific examples and use numbers to demonstrate the impact of your previous experiences.
When discussing relevant experience, instead of simply outlining your responsibilities, try highlighting your results and connecting how this could benefit the company.
Similarly, when discussing your strengths, give an example of a specific situation where you demonstrated that strength and achieved the outcome.
Related: How to Best Answer “What Are Your Strengths?” in a Job Interview
When discussing weaknesses, be honest and demonstrate that you are aware of the issue and have taken steps to improve. Being dishonest in an interview can have serious repercussions.
Stick to ethics
It is also essential to avoid using corporate jargon and hype words that may seem impressive but might lack substance. Instead, be honest and specific, and focus on tangible achievements and numbers to demonstrate your skills and experience.
Lastly, ethics are an important consideration, as well. If a candidate speaks poorly of their former employer, it can be a red flag and reflect poorly on the candidate’s own ethics. Therefore, it is better to avoid talking negatively about past experiences and to focus on the positives.
Speaker | Author, “No Lie: Truth Is the Ultimate Sales Tool“
Learn everything you can about the company
I’ve consulted on hundreds of hires, and I have to say that the secret to standing out in an interview is first learning everything you can about the company.
Then during the interview, politely take control, asking the interviewer or the panel things like what they feel it takes to be successful in the job and what they’d like to see in a hire. Get them talking. And make sure they each have a chance to speak. The more they talk, the higher they will rate you.
The best interview I’ve ever seen from an interviewee was in two parts. And she didn’t so much tell us how good she was; she showed us by her actions.
First, she asked us several questions that showed her interest in the job and her interest in helping the company accomplish its goals.
- “What would the perfect employee for this job look like for you?”
- “In the best of all possible worlds, what would you like me to accomplish for you? In three months? In a year? In five years?”
That type of question.
Even better, in responding to our answers, she demonstrated all the research she’d done about the company. Not just from the website and articles about the company, but she’d actually called many employees who held the type of position she was applying for as well as several of their managers.
So she was able to show her understanding of the specific issues these employees faced and how the company wanted to deal with those issues. Then, of course, when she was answering their questions, she used the information she’d gathered to frame her remarks.
Very often, an interview will start with a “Tell me about yourself” question. This is a softball question designed to help the applicant relax and get comfortable. But it’s also a question that gives the applicant a chance to shine.
I always suggest translating “Tell me about yourself” to mean “Tell me why your background makes you the perfect person for this position.” This is, of course, a question every applicant had better have an answer for before ever entering the interview.
The best response I ever heard to the “Tell me about yourself” question was: “I’m someone who’s determined to become one of the best hires you’ve ever made.”
Then the woman proceeded to explain, point by point, in chronological order of her life, all the reasons why she would be perfect for the position; again demonstrating the research she’d done on the company and the specific position and how much preparation she’d done for the interview.
Explain why you’re interested in the specific job you’re interviewing for
One question that often comes up in almost any interview is, “Why should we hire you?” or some variation of it. The absolute wrong way to answer that question is to appear to be bragging. “Let me be frank; there’s nobody out there that can do what I can.“
A much better answer? “I have no idea what other the candidates you’re considering might be able to do. My guess is you’re looking at some top people. But here’s what I can do for you and why I think I have a unique set of qualifications that I would certainly hope make me the best candidate for that job…”
Be sure to have a good answer to the “Why are you looking for a new job?” question. It’s the perfect opportunity to explain why you’re interested in the specific job you’re interviewing for.
The answer should never be about problems with your current job but always about the opportunity the new position might offer.
Does it offer a great chance for advancement? Then my answer might begin, “I’ve got a perfectly wonderful job, but with a small company like that, the opportunities for advancement are limited.”
Does it offer more money? “I love what I’m doing, but, to be frank, there’s really a limited opportunity for advancement. So I thought I should investigate what other possibilities are out there.”
Save at least one question for the very end
Remember, you’ll also be evaluated based on the questions you ask. I was involved in an interview where the first three questions from the applicant were, in order:
- “How much vacation time do I get?”
- “How long do I have to be here before I’m eligible for a vacation?”
- “How long before I start to accrue additional weeks of vacation?”
What had looked like a great applicant now looked like someone who couldn’t wait to get out of work. The questions applicants ask during the interview often reveal their priorities in a way that nothing else during the interview does.
Yes, it’s always a good idea to save at least one question for the very end. The best final question I’ve heard was, “From what you’ve seen and heard so far, in what way do I fall short of being the perfect candidate for this position, and what would you like to see me do to correct that?”
Related: How to Answer “What Interests You About This Position?” in a Job Interview
Remember, when two candidates are virtually equal, the final selection often simply comes down to who seems to want it more.
Legal Search Consultant | Founding Member, SeltzerFontaine LLC
Find a need and fill it
The word “sales” makes many jobseekers uncomfortable, but when you’re looking for a new position, you’re the product you want the prospective employer to buy—and at the best price.
As the sales mantra goes: Find a need and fill it.
Know your product; clearly define yourself
First, you must know what you’re selling before determining who might want or need it.
What’s your personal brand or Unique Selling Proposition (USP)? It’s the combination of skills, experiences, and personality that is yours alone and makes you memorable. It’s what sets you apart from all other candidates in the marketplace.
It can include your strengths, accomplishments, training, credentials, attributes, connections, industry knowledge, and cultural or language fluencies.
Take the time to define yourself clearly so others don’t define you in ways that may not be complete or accurate.
Find a need
Who would benefit from your product? Do your market research to identify target employers and their pain points.
- Can you provide something that will help them better compete in the future?
- What problems are they attempting to solve, or what needs do they want to fill by making this hire?
Examine the job description carefully, study their products or services, and look for related news stories.
Once an interview is set, if possible, research your interviewer’s backgrounds and positions in the company and consider their relation to the position being filled.
Remember that interviewers at various organizational levels may have different desires regarding the person hired for the vacant position. A smart job seeker also shows how their unique selling proposition fills those particular needs.
Fill it—craft your sales pitch
Now, it’s time to craft your sales pitch. Everything you write, say, or do during your job search/sales campaign should put the employer’s needs first.
The fact that you might actually want or enjoy the job is vital to your target customer only to the extent that it may make you a more productive member of their team.
From the specific employer’s point of view, make a list of your selling points. Show, not tell, the prospective employer how what you have to offer can fill their gaps or solve their problems.
Don’t just list your past duties; rather, provide stories and examples of what you can do for them and quantify your accomplishments. Emphasize the relevant information tailored to each prospective employer and the position sought.
Beforehand, practice in the mirror or with a friend so that you’re thoroughly comfortable with communicating your unique selling proposition (your answer to the interviewers’ “Tell me about yourself“) and how it can meet the prospective employer’s needs.
Don’t over or undersell yourself but remember to sell. Whether you like it or not—your job search is a sales job.
Content Strategist, Europe Language Jobs
Show you have done your research
Questions such as “What do you know about our company?” or “Which of our company values do you appreciate the most?” are meant to verify the candidate’s knowledge about the company.
The recruiters don’t expect you to know everything as well as they do, but you will be expected to have conducted thorough research before the interview.
Things to look up include:
- Areas of activity
- Products/services offered
- Company values
- The type of hierarchy promoted (tall vs. flat)
- The size of the company
- Competitors and collaborators
- Short and long-term goals
- Basic information about the key employees
Such information can be found via the company’s official website—pay special attention to the “About us” tab. It will usually briefly introduce the team and outline the values, goals, and successes of the business.
Another good place to look for information is social media. LinkedIn will provide you with the official, more personal kind of facts, while Instagram, Facebook, or even TikTok these days, might show you the more casual side of the business and employees.
Some companies even make a habit of publishing case studies concerning their activity/successes/employee stories on their blogs or social media profiles, so make sure to look out for those as well. They may have published some press releases, too—they’re a goldmine of useful information.
A great way to get some inside knowledge about your potential future employer is to connect with someone who already works for them.
You may know someone like that privately, or if not, you can always find the company on LinkedIn and go to the “People” tab. Reach out to someone in a similar position or working in the team you would potentially be a part of. They will likely be happy to share their insights on the company culture and the work itself.
Getting to know the company beforehand will also be beneficial for you. Not only does it show commitment and preparation to the recruiter, but it will also answer some of your own questions.
Where and who we work for are important. Imagine being hired by a business openly supporting abusive manufacturing by minors when you’re a dedicated human rights activist or working for an oil company being an environmentalist.
Doing your research will help ensure you and the company’s values align.
Related: What Are Core Values and How Do They Control My Life?
Don’t arrive too early
Most pieces of advice focus on being on time. However, the truth is, being too early can be just as annoying for a recruiter as coming late.
Remember that conducting interviews is only a part of hiring managers’ and recruiters’ work. They do have other tasks they need to carry out during their day, and you arriving 15 minutes too early will throw them off and make everyone feel awkward.
While bigger companies may have a waiting area and an assistant who can take care of you while you wait, smaller ones may not be able to offer such convenience.
Arriving excessively before time might force your interviewer to realign their agenda and start early or make them feel pressured to pay attention to you during your wait.
There is no need for both you and the person interviewing you to start stressed, as it might heavily impact the outcome of the interview.
The recommended time to arrive for your interview is no more than 5 minutes before the set time, according to the recruiters we have consulted.
Related: How Early Should You Arrive for a Job Interview
Ask questions or specific information about the role itself or the company
This is one of the points our users often find the most controversial. Many wonder whether asking questions doesn’t contradict the first point we made about always doing your research. The answer is: not at all.
In fact, interviewers expect candidates to ask questions. Failing to do so might even negatively impact their impression of you.
As much as doing your research demonstrates commitment, asking further questions shows your motivation to know more. A recruiter wants proof that you’re legitimately interested in the post you’re applying for.
Related: 50+ Good Questions to Ask Recruiters
Of course, one thing to remember is not to ask obvious, banal questions. Inquiring about something you can easily find on the company’s website or, even worse, about something already said during the interview is a red flag.
You need to pay attention to every word the interviewer says to ensure you don’t end up asking about something they had previously explained.
However, asking them to elaborate or expand on something they have said is perfectly fine. You wanting to know more is not the same as you not remembering anything at all.
In fact, referring to something the hiring manager has mentioned will demonstrate that you have paid attention and kept it in mind.
Other safe questions to ask the recruiter include:
- “Could you tell me more about who I would work the closest with?”
- “What is the size of the team I would be a part of? What are the other roles it includes?”
- “In general, what would my daily schedule look like in this position?”
- “How is success measured in the team/company? Is it more qualitative or quantitative?”
- “Which tools would I be required to work with daily to achieve my goals?”
- “Would you mind sharing what you personally appreciate most about working for this company?”
- “Is there anything about my application that makes you doubt whether I’m a suitable candidate for this role?”
- “Is there anything else I can explain about my skills or experience?”
- “Your website says x about your company activity/values/goals. I’d love to learn more/I found it interesting; could you please elaborate on that?”
As you can see, the recommended questions concern either specific information about the role itself or anything about the company you couldn’t find beforehand.
You can also touch upon yourself—the interviewer will have likely asked anything they needed to know and voiced their doubts on their own, but it never hurts to ensure they are not left with any concerns at the end of the interview.
Do not ask all the questions listed above. Based on what has already been said and what you would like to know, choose up to 3 to ask.
Founder and VP, CEOMichaelHR
Selling yourself in an interview is essential for making a great first impression and getting the job you want. It’s about showcasing your skills, qualifications, and experience in a way that aligns with the needs and goals of the company.
Research and understand the company and the role
Before the interview, it’s crucial to research the company and the role you’re applying for. Understand the company’s mission, values, goals, and key responsibilities of the role.
Use this information to align your qualifications and experience with the company’s needs and goals. For example, if the company’s goal is to increase sales, mention how your past sales experience can help achieve that goal.
Prepare relevant examples
When answering interview questions, provide specific and relevant examples demonstrating your qualifications and experience. These examples can be from your past job, volunteer work, or extracurricular activities.
For example, if the interviewer asks you about your problem-solving skills, you can mention a time when you had to come up with a creative solution to a challenge at work.
Show your enthusiasm and passion
It’s vital to show your enthusiasm and passion for the role and the company during the interview.
Related: Why Is Passion Important for Success in Life?
Express your excitement about the opportunity to work with the company and how your skills and experience align with the role.
For example, if you’re applying for a customer service role, mention how much you enjoy helping people and how much you’re looking forward to doing so in this role.
Highlight your transferable skills
If you don’t have direct experience in the role you’re applying for, you can still sell yourself by highlighting your transferable skills. These are skills that are not specific to one job but can be applied to different roles.
For example, if you’re applying for a marketing role and have experience in sales, you can mention how your sales experience has helped you develop your negotiation and communication skills, which are essential in marketing.
Follow up with a thank-you note or express your appreciation
After the interview, it’s essential to follow up with a thank-you note or email to express your appreciation for the interviewer’s time and to reiterate your interest in the role. This will help keep you top of mind and demonstrate your commitment to the job.
Related: How to Follow up After an Interview If You Haven’t Heard Back
In conclusion, selling yourself in an interview is essential for making a great first impression and getting the job you want.
Remember, it’s not about being perfect; it’s about showcasing your skills, qualifications, and experience in a way that aligns with the needs and goals of the company.
The most important factor when it comes to selling yourself in an interview is being able to demonstrate that you understand the role, your experience and skill set align with the requirements of the position, and that you’re a good fit for the organization.
To do this effectively, you should think about what the interviewer wants to hear from you.
Arm yourself with knowledge of the company and position
Research the company online to understand its mission, values, and objectives. Be prepared to discuss how your qualifications meet the needs of the role.
How do you bring value to the organization? Do you possess any unique skills or experiences that make you stand out?
Practice and prepare for the interview
You are likely to get asked questions like:
- “Tell me about yourself.”
- “What makes you a good fit for this position?”
- “How would your colleagues describe you?”
Make sure you have solid answers to these types of questions. Developing your elevator pitch or a summary of who you are and why you’re the best person for the job can be very useful in this regard.
Here are two perfect examples of elevator pitches:
Example 1: “I am an experienced writer and editor with a master’s degree in journalism. I have extensive experience working with both traditional media outlets and digital channels and a passion for creating engaging content. My knowledge of the latest trends in communications makes me an ideal candidate for this role.”
Example 2: “I am a skilled software engineer with an excellent academic record. I have a strong understanding of coding languages and experience developing web applications in fast-paced environments. My passion for innovation and problem-solving make me an ideal candidate for this role.”
Come to the interview ready to talk about the company culture
- How do you fit into the organizational environment?
- What kind of culture do you thrive in?
- How would your personality and work style mesh with the team and company?
Being able to demonstrate an understanding of the organization’s culture will allow you to stand out from other candidates.
Managing Partner and Principal Executive Coach, Close Cohen
An interview is your opportunity to demonstrate to the interviewer why you are a great fit for the role. Throughout the interview process, you will gain information about the organization and the position.
While this is important so you can assess if it’s a match for what you desire in a job, it’s also essential to gather information to help you pitch yourself as a strong candidate.
As you learn more about the desired traits and job responsibilities of the new hire, you will be able to share examples from your past that reinforce you are the best fit for the company.
Research and rehearsal are vital steps to help you pitch yourself as the best candidate.
Arrive with deep knowledge about the company, role, and market
This signals how you approach any project, from this candidacy to the initiatives you will lead once you land the position.
Learn about what has recently passed and what is next for the company—talk with employees and use LinkedIn, YouTube, industry news, the company’s website, etc., to your advantage.
Conduct the same research for your company’s competitors. Be knowledgeable about the products and industry to understand the company’s advantages and disadvantages.
Also, take time to learn about the people you will be interviewing with. The more you know, the more equipped you will be to tailor your interview messages to your audience.
Remember that practice is key to performance
Even the most advanced leaders need support in getting comfortable telling the story of their candidacy. Multiple rehearsals help you confidently communicate your value.
Brag about your achievements. Know what the interviewer is looking for and speak directly to it. Connect the dots between your experience and the role you’re discussing. Be cautious not to minimize or diminish your experience.
Remember that practice is key to performance. Partnering with a career coach specializing in interview preparation will provide you with the frameworks, space for practice, and direct feedback to build your interview performance.
As you learn more about the desired traits and job responsibilities of the new hire, you will be able to share examples from your past that reinforce you are the best fit for the company. Research and rehearsal are vital steps to help you pitch yourself as the best candidate.
TEDx Speaker | Sales Keynote Speaker | Author, “Better Selling Through Storytelling“
Prepare, paint, and practice
Get ready for this question ahead of time. Prepare by brainstorming different answers.
In your answer, paint a picture of yourself. Use vivid, specific language which aligns your personality and professional experience with the job description.
Then, practice responding “out loud.” This is not the time to “wing it” – unless you don’t want the job. Try your response out with friends or family to get their honest reaction. Do you come across as confident or “full of yourself”? Are you underselling your skills?
Practicing out loud will also give you an edge. An actor would never consider going on stage without rehearsing. Practice gives you confidence and allows your answer to roll off your tongue—especially important when nerves are at play.
Have a beginning, middle, and end
Another frequent question is, “Tell us how you solved a problem.”
Tell a story in the order. We’re all used to hearing them with a beginning, middle, and end.
- The beginning is setting the stage (Once Upon a Time) with a problem.
- The middle is identifying the cause of the problem and sharing how you solved it.
- The end (Happily Ever After) is the impact of the solution.
Note that the “villain” in the story should always be an object or situation but never a person or organization. Again, prepare and practice ahead of time.
“Do you have any questions?” usually comes at the end of an interview.
Think above and beyond
This is your opportunity to stand out. Most people will say something about what the job entails. That’s fine, but it’s about skills. Instead, ask, “What would it take for you to “exceed their expectations?” This is about attitude. You can train people, but you can’t teach an attitude.
Resume Writer and Career Coach | Founder, Tuesday Resume
Prepare examples in the Situation-Action-Result (SAR) format
I coach my professional clients to use the SAR format in their resumes, cover letters, and live interviews. This requires first thinking of a problem or challenging situation you experienced at work.
Like a good Hollywood movie, this raises the stakes for hiring managers—it immediately hooks your interviewer with “why they should care.”
This could be anything like declining performance, unhappy clients, inefficient processes, lack of information—any number of situations we all encounter. For extra impact, choose a situation that mirrors the types of problems you’d expect in the role for which you’re interviewing.
Second, what actions did you specifically take to resolve the problem? This ensures that you speak directly about your own involvement.
It forces you to use “I” statements rather than “we” or “the team,” which is an unconscious tendency that female candidates use more in interviews, which can raise questions about an individual’s specific role in solving a problem. You want to avoid this and stick with “I.”
Finally, what was the result? This is where you get to feature key metrics, numbers, dollar signs, awards and recognition, and more.
Quantifying is ideal, but if the results are hard to measure (or there is any sensitivity around sharing data), qualifying the results with client feedback, leadership approval, etc., is good, too. You want this to be a happy ending.
By framing your professional experience in the situation-action-result template, you are guaranteed to tell a cohesive story with a beginning, middle, and end.
Prepare these examples in advance; I recommend writing them down as a cheat sheet for your interviews (or simply add them to your resume). After all, hiring managers are humans, too—the ability to tell an interesting story is sure to make you stand out in a crowded field.
Talent Acquisition Manager, Spacelift
Be true to your values and strengths
Remember that you’re hired for who you are. You’re not just selling your skillset or experience. You’re also selling your values, work ethic, and attitude. Your interviewer wants to get to know the real you, so be yourself and let your personality shine.
The best way is to be true to your values and strengths. Most employers are looking for people who will be a good fit for their company culture, so it’s important to emphasize the qualities that make you unique.
For example, when talking about your qualifications, focus on your actual strengths rather than what you think the interviewer wants to hear.
President, Frank Recruitment Group
Respond authentically to the conversation
It might sound counter-intuitive, but if you’re approaching an interview determined to “sell yourself,” you may end up missing the opportunity entirely.
Rather than attempting to deliver any pre-prepared speeches or get all your best anecdotes in, try to respond authentically to the conversation you’re actually having with your interviewer at the moment.
Staying present to what’s really happening will allow you to pick up conversational threads and identify the spaces where you can bring in your experience more organically.
Being genuine usually goes much further than a sales pitch when it comes to interviewing well.
Senior Editor, Tandem
If you are reading this or are currently employed, you likely went on an interview at some point in your life. And if you are employed, it’s probably safe to say that the interview went well.
However, now you are at the point where, for whatever reason, you are looking for a new job. This means more finding job postings, more applying for positions, and arguably the most difficult part—more interviews.
When you go for an interview, you aim to show your best self to the company. It’s almost as if you are now a salesperson, and the item you sell is you. How do you sell yourself in an interview?
Practice makes perfect
Before meeting with someone, look up general interview questions you can prepare. You should also look up questions about the company’s industry. Then practice answering these questions in front of your mirror or a friend.
When you are at the interview, you want your answers to sound and appear more natural and less forced.
Make a good first impression
Many have heard, “A first impression is a lasting impression,” and that’s because it can be quite true. To make a good impression, you must arrive at your interview on time, generally 10 to 15 minutes early. This might not be relevant if you are doing a remote interview or if you made prior arrangements.
Whether in-person or online, you also need to dress to impress. This is a subtle way to let the interviewer know you are invested in the opportunity.
Be like a boy scout and always be prepared
Even though many corporations are going or have already gone paperless, you should have a copy of your resume available to share with the interviewer.
This person might walk into the interview room having forgotten to bring their copy with them, or there might be another reason they want to review your resume again.
It also helps to have paper and pen so that you can take notes or write down questions you want to ask when the other person is done speaking.
Related: Should You Take Notes During an Interview? (As a Candidate)
Bring out your inner Pat Benatar
In 1980, Pat Benatar released the song “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.” You will be doing this during the interview with the interviewer – giving your best shot.
If they don’t automatically ask about your achievements, you will still want to mention them. Illustrating what you have already accomplished is a great way to let others know what you can do in the future.
When going over these items, do your best not to sound like you are better than others or to come across as a braggart.
Remember to be yourself
Above all else, it’s essential to be yourself. Of course, you don’t need to let a potential employer know that you play Pokemon Go during your free time, paint memes, or any other hobbies you might not want to reveal.
On the other hand, you don’t want to suppress your natural personality because if you do get hired, the company and other employees will likely eventually see at least some of it.
Finding a job takes work, and going on interviews can seem like a job itself. But once you are skilled in selling yourself, you will find someone to make that purchase before you know it.
Founder, Fluent in Finance
Selling yourself in an interview is all about effectively communicating your skills, qualifications, and value to the employer.
By providing specific examples of your past experiences and achievements, highlighting your unique skills and qualifications, discussing how you can add value to the company, and showing a clear understanding of the job requirements, you can increase your chances of landing the job you want.
Provide specific examples of your past experiences and achievements
One of the most effective ways to sell yourself in an interview is by providing specific examples of your past experiences, achievements, and accomplishments.
When answering interview questions, try to give examples that demonstrate your skills, qualifications, and how you have added value in previous roles.
For example, if an interviewer asks you about your experience in project management, you could say:
“In my previous role as a project manager, I successfully led a team of 10 people in completing a project that was $500,000 over budget and delivered it within the deadline by implementing agile methodologies and effectively communicating with stakeholders. As a result, we increased the team’s productivity by 15%.”
It’s always a good idea to have a clear understanding of the job requirements and how you match them. Use the STAR method—Situation, Task, Action, and Results to convey how you have handled a similar situation and what the result was.
Highlight your unique skills and qualifications that set you apart from other candidates
For example, if you have unique certifications or skills that align with the job requirements, mention them during the interview. If you have experience with a certain software or programming language, mention that and explain how it would benefit the company.
Be ready to discuss how you can add value to the company
Research the company prior to the interview and be ready to speak about your knowledge of the company’s products, services, and mission. Be prepared to explain how you can contribute to their success and growth.
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