Saying all the right things in an interview – Interview Tips
“Tell me about yourself.”
This is one of the most common interview questions and not surprisingly, it’s one of the most difficult to answer, especially for transitioning service members. Do you talk about your experience during deployments? CONUS assignments? Do you discuss what it was like to be in a unit? Or do you go the other route and talk about yourself with regard to your education, family, and upbringing?
The short answer is – both.
Selling yourself can seem like a strange concept, especially coming from a culture where the needs of the group outweigh the needs of the individual. This is a question that is going to come up time and again in all interviews across all sectors, so the sooner you tackle it, the better off you’ll be. To sell yourself well, you need to have answers about a variety of different instances at the ready, but they need to sound natural and not at all rehearsed. It sounds like a tall order, but with some dedicated practice, it becomes very easy in no time at all.
When a hiring manager asks these kinds of questions, they’re using your answers as much to learn about you as to determine whether or not you’ll be a good fit for the company culture. If the role for which you’re interviewing requires someone to be very flexible, and you tell the interviewer that you appreciate sticking to a routine at all costs, you might not be the best fit. However, there’s an easy fix to this, and it’s using the job description.
Without realizing it, many hiring managers are already providing you a framework for the type of worker they seek. They do this with the language that included in the job posting. You can use the job posting as a way to frame the answers and sell yourself well.
So to sell yourself well, think about how your particular experiences fit within the needs of the company. If you’re a vivacious talkative person who enjoys being part of a team, be sure your interviewer has a clear idea of that. You could tell an anecdote about an instance in which your leadership of a team was beneficial and helped produce a positive outcome. If you’re the type of worker who enjoys dialing into a task solo, then discuss your solitary interests as a way to illustrate your ability to work alone.
Selling yourself doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. After all, you already possess the skills and traits that the firm is looking for, and now all you need to do is make sure they know it. You don’t want to share too much or too little information, but you also can’t be too vague. You might also consider adding in some personal information about interests and hobbies outside of your career. Use these answers to showcase soft skills. For example, if you mention you’re an avid long distance runner, an interviewer will pick up on the fact that you like to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Of course, it should go without saying that by no means should you be untruthful in your interview. You need to answer this question honestly, but you can do so in a way that helps highlight the particular skills that the company is seeking. It never works to try to be someone you’re not, and that goes for interviews too.