Friday, November 7, 2014

Selling and speaking about yourself at the job interview – when this doesn’t come easy

As you well know, when you’re being interviewed for a job – it’s not a time to be modest, it's a time for selling yourself. You need to be ready and willing to express with confidence the capabilities that you’ve acquired in your career.

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Furthermore, you need to describe with conviction the situations in which these capabilities have been displayed and how they have contributed towards your achievements.

Yes it's true, the more extroverted personalities do have a bit of an advantage when it comes to selling themselves at the job interview. They tend to find it easier to talk about themselves.

For those of you who are not quite so extroverted, it probably feels a little uncomfortable having to speak so much about yourself and to be the focus of intense attention for so long….. It may even feel like you've got to summon up some courage to submit yourself to the scrutiny of the interview process
Your thinking may need an “adjustment”
In particular, for those of you who might have been taught at a young age that “no-one likes a show-off” and “you shouldn’t big-note yourself” and “modesty is a virtue” ...... Well, these types of messages from "authority figures" early in your life would have left an imprint on the way you think you should behave - as well as influencing your self-esteem.  You’ve probably been hard-wired to think that you should be humble and you don’t want to be seen as being conceited or pushy by talking too positively about yourself.

But just because something feels uncomfortable, doesn’t mean that you can’t learn to do it. If we never stretched our comfort zone in life, then we’d always simply remain where we are – doing what we’ve always done. Growth and discovery begin at the end of your comfort zone.  Too often when people say a behaviour doesn’t feel “natural” for them, what they’re really saying is that it’s not something they’ve done a lot of in the past. But that doesn’t have to be the way it is moving forward to the future.

What I’m suggesting here is that you can learn to overcome this reluctance to speak positively about your achievements. But it does require a change in your thinking. ….. In order to start selling yourself more effectively, you need to give yourself permission to talk about your strengths …… You need to cultivate an inner mindset that says if you don’t speak about your achievements and actually take credit for what you have done, then the interviewers won’t be able to make a proper assessment about your fitness for the job.

Telling your story

selling yourself at interviewThe interview is your time …… The interviewers want you to describe all that you have to offer. They are wanting you to tell your story – and if you don’t, who will?
The interview is not the time to be a shrinking violet. It is not the time to be self-effacing nor modest. It is the time you must believe in the value of what you are offering. You might be thinking here that you’ve listed your skills, strengths and achievements in your application – so the interviewers should be aware of them.
Your application won you the interview – now what you actually say during the interview and how you present and package your experience will be central to determining whether you win the job.

Interview tips on projecting confidence 
  1. You’re more likely to feel some measure of confidence when you know that you are well prepared for the interview and that you’ve got a pretty good idea of what you will be facing. Try to learn the names of the interviewers and maybe even see if they have a LinkedIn profile you can check up on. Practice, train and rehearse for the interview - try to anticipate some of the behavioural questions that interviewers can ask. Maybe even think about getting some interview coaching
  2. Appearance is important – ensure that what you’re wearing and your grooming is all top-notch. Now-days that might not require that the guys wear a suit and tie – but what it does mean is that you do not appear having dressed too casual. When you feel that you’re looking good, you’re more likely to feel good about selling yourself.
  3. While you’re in the waiting room before the interview, maybe have another read of your resume and application – Remind yourself of your achievements and get your mind in the right space …… Under no circumstances allow your mind to dredge up bad interviewing experiences you may have had in the past. You’ve learned from those experiences – and so ensure that you control your focus to be on positive memories and that you recall times when you have succeeded. This will help generate positive energy within you. Actually try smiling to yourself to get yourself into that happy, friendly mindset
  4. Get your body language right during the interview …… be friendly, smile a little – but not all the time. Sit up straight, keep your chin up – and project your voice. Avoid fidgeting. Maintain good eye contact with the interviewers
  5. When you are asked a question, by all means pause and first collect your thoughts before answering. But try to avoid being hesitant during the delivery of your answers
  6. Take credit for your initiatives ….. use first-person language “I introduced …”, “I co-ordinated …”, “T was able to gain support for …” instead of “We …”.  Also, on the this theme of confident language, avoid soft terms like “I think …” and instead replace them with stronger terms like “I’ve found …” or “From my experience, …”
  7. Accept that you will have some nerves – but also you can apply techniques to control some of those nerves. Try saying to yourself you feel excited about the opportunity, instead of thinking that you’re nervous. And recognise that most other interviewees will also be feeling nervous too.
  8. During the interview, if you get stumped on a difficult question, chances are that many of the other interviewees will also get stumped.  You might think to yourself that you didn’t give a great answer – but hey, maybe the interviewer thinks differently. And maybe your answer might prove to be better than other answers that were given…….. The main point here, is don’t allow the demon of self-doubt to start creating inhibitions and anxiety.  Instead, you take a deep breath, compose yourself and get ready for the next question – instead of dwelling on what you think may been a poor answer to the previous question.   
So in closing, selling yourself at the job interview is going to be easier when you approach it with the right mindset. Rid yourself of any self-limiting and mistaken beliefs that speaking about your strengths, skills and achievements is conceited. Do not permit the fear of failure to hold you back from fully committing yourself throughout any part of the application and interview process. Embrace the opportunity to unashamedly promote yourself, and empower yourself by recognising that if you have been invited to an interview, then the expectation is that you will speak about what you have to offer.

So summon forth the courage that lies within you and walk boldly into the interview room, hold your head up high, pull your shoulders back and believe that this is your time,

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About the author
Brian Carroll is the founder of Performance Development, a leading corporate training company. He is a qualified psychologist and a highly experienced  interview coach based in Melbourne, who can help you to develop your interview confidence. If you want expert help preparing and rehearsing for your next interview, then contact him for interview training on phone 0430 972 578 
- or find out more about him at his Google + profile