How to Sell Your Skills in an Interview

Job interviews are essentially a high-pressure sales call. The product? You — or, more specifically, the skills and experience you can bring to a new job. In today’s ultra-competitive job market it’s important to learn to sell yourself and your skills so you stand out during the interview process.

Be the Solution

Companies fill or create positions because they have problems they want to solve. In this way, you are the need of the business as well as the interviewer. Let him feel as you are the person they need.

Prepare for the interview by identifying the problems hinted within the position description. It may help to prepare a head of time on how you’ll solve those problems – and especially how you’ve solved similar problems in the past. Also, when you’re in the interview, it may help you to tell stories about specific successes or results you have achieved.

If you’re a recent graduate or making a career change, keep in mind that many problems — such as a lack of effective project management or a breakdown of teamwork — are not industry-specific. Offering solutions to these problems is a great way to overcome a lack of directly applicable experience.

Be Specific

Throughout the interview it’s important to avoid empty clichés. Using clichés does nothing to help you stand out to the interviewer and make you appear as the star candidate. In addition, be prepared to back up your claims you make about your skills and experiences with specific stories and facts.

For example, don’t just say that you “work well with others” — talk about the types of teams you’ve worked with and what you’ve learned from them. Or if you plan to say you’re “detail-oriented,” come to the interview prepared with a story about how your attention to detail saved former employer money or time on projects.

Prepare Sound Bites

Prepare three or four effective sound bites that highlight your skills and past successes. A sound bite is succinct and direct, so it’s catchy and easy to remember.  When you’re coming up with your sound bites, ask yourself, “What were my greatest accomplishments at my most recent job?” and “What facts can I share about my past positions that will me apart from other candidates?”

Prepare to Talk About Your Resume

Your resume and cover letter will likely form an outline for part of your interview. Because a resume has to be brief, it probably says many things that could be elaborated on or explained in more detail. Often a resume explains the “what” (for instance, “supervised two people”). Use the interview to talk about the “how,” as well as skills you gained, praise you received and so on.

Be Aware of Nonverbal Communication

You say a lot about yourself with nonverbal language: your posture and your facial expressions, for instance. Sit up straight — leaning forward can make you seem closed off, as can holding a briefcase or purse in your lap. Also, it is important to maintain eye contact when answering interview questions, and smile frequently. Finally, make sure to use a firm handshake- an overly aggressive handshake can be as off-putting as a limp one.

Be Positive

Don’t complain about your past positions to the interviewer. Even if you truly believe your last employer was incompetent, complaining about it only makes you look childish. Don’t make excuses as to why you might’ve been fired or why you quit.

Most importantly though, trust and believe in yourself. If you don’t think your interview is going to go well, it probably won’t.

Build Rapport with Your Interviewer

People like to buy stuff from people they like — and they like to work with people who they get along with, too. Whether buying a car or hiring a manager, people often make the buying decision based on emotion, so it’s important to build rapport. You can do this by greeting them with a smile and a warm handshake, making appropriate eye contact, using their name (but not too many times), and by being positive.

Demonstrate Willingness to Learn and Change with the Company

Teamwork skills are also fairly important to discuss when attending an interview. Tell your interviewer of any past experiences with team work, what kind of work it was, and what tasks you had to accomplish.

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