It can be exceptionally hard for some people to talk about themselves during a job interview. Conversely, being a braggart doesn’t exactly do you any favours either — after all, you’re walking a fine line between modesty and underselling.
When the potential employer inevitably asks you to talk about your greatest strengths and assets, though, you can’t exactly sit there and stare blankly. A little bragging is almost required, but it matters most what you brag about.
Here are the best ways to talk yourself up during a job interview.
Know What They’re Looking For
If you’re being interviewed, chances are you’re not the first or last of the day. There’s a reason the questions are so uniform: they help the interviewer cross off certain mental checklists.
As such, there are some keywords you might want to include. Often, the job posting includes what you need — words like creativity, trustworthiness, discipline, patience, and dedication.
People, however, are not search engines. You may benefit from not actually saying the words but demonstrating them.
Show, Don’t Tell
The principles of storytelling apply just as well to job interviews as they do screenplays and novels. This can be a little complicated for those who aren’t natural-born storytellers, but it helps to think in those terms. If your life was a movie or book, what character arc would you use to explain your goals?
This can help you avoid using keywords that make you sound a little too practiced. Instead of saying you’re dedicated, try telling an anecdote that exemplifies your dedication.
Remember that it’s important how you brag about your work. The stories you tell at a job interview should always have a purpose. In this case, it helps not to bury the lede. An example may be:
”I’d say one of my greatest strengths is bringing order to hectic environments. At my last job, I [anecdote about leadership].”
Keep It Brief
Just as important as what you brag about is how long you think a potential employer is willing to listen to you drone on about yourself. Have some consideration for the interviewer — they likely have a lot of meetings to get through.
Particularly when it comes to any questions related to personal past accomplishments or pride, you want to limit yourself to no more than 90 seconds. Any longer and you may notice the interviewer make notes in their margins you would probably not want to read.
Making an impression while keeping things short sounds like a contradiction, but there’s a fine art to such answers. Fortunately, being memorable doesn’t require you to tell any jokes, though many try anyway.
Typically, joking is not recommended. Even if you have a previous relationship with the interviewer, it could go wrong in many ways.
A better way to be memorable is to focus on a skill or asset that’s rarely covered in job interviews, something genuinely unique about you that they may have never heard before.
Kenny Hedges | Contributing Writer