Showcasing Your Skills in an Interview (Without Looking Like a Schmuck)
For recruiters, interviewing and selecting you as the right job candidate is not as easy as it might seem. Attempting to assess your skills and appropriateness for a certain position can be quite difficult.
Especially if the recruiter is only meeting you once or twice.
Too often, interviewers rely on their intuition (gut). Many times they do this instead of asking behavioral questions and looking for quantifiable, concrete data.
Sometimes recruiters misread signs. (Yes, we’re human).
For example, the interviewer might inadvertently think that your “confidence” translates to “competence.”
And, if you come across as a good communicator and have a firm handshake, someone might think that you have “leadership” potential.
The challenge for you, the candidate, is to give the hiring manager more to go on. We’re talking about showcasing your skills, but with quantitative data!
But just how do you go about enumerating your talents—without coming across as a showboat?
You know . . . a schmuck?
5 tips on showcasing your skills in an interview:
1. Keep it Short & Simple
Yes, the “KISS” theory still applies: we live in an age in which bullet points and sound bites have replaced paragraphs and long, narrative explanations.
So, tailor your responses to questions to make sure they’re brief and to-the-point.
Besides, you never want to run the risk of going on and on about your skills and talents. Otherwise your interviewer will start to think you might be too full of yourself. Or even that you might be exaggerating your accomplishments.
So just how do you walk that narrow line?
How can you make sure that you’re giving your interviewer enough information? How can you help him or her make up their mind about your skills, but not so much that you end up putting them off?
That takes us to Number Two . . .
2. Use Recent Data to Quantify Your Skills
Succinctness and brevity are a lot easier to manage when you’re prepared.
So when you’re getting ready for the interview, be sure you know the requirements for the role you’re seeking.
Then you’ll be able to succinctly talk about any skills you have that closely align with the employer’s needs.
Think through all relevant ways you’ve applied those skills in past roles, and don’t rule out your volunteer activities.
Next, briefly explain what you’ve done in your most recent role. And get specific by using numbers, hours, budgets, etc.
One example might include something like this: “I flew 400 hours last year, 20 of the 40 trips were with C-Level executives and we visited customers in roughly 10 countries—mostly in Asia and the Middle East.”
Also, if you’ve managed people, get into the details of what you did to improve your team.
Did you increase employee satisfaction points in a survey? Did you host, say, 52 weekly leadership team meetings? Furthermore, did you effectively delegate half of them to be led by your team?
Well-handled budget numbers always impress.
What was your annual operating budget and how much under that number were you able to bring it in? Did you exceed or meet your goal by a certain percentage?
These are the sorts of responses that provide interviewers with a solid idea of your abilities without making you seem “too good to be true.”
3. Bring Your Passion
As we just counseled you, make sure to keep it brief and to the point, but not at the expense of your passion or enthusiasm for the industry and the job you’re seeking.
In a recent article for the Harvard Business Review, business psychologist Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic tells interviewees that it’s okay to be excited about their interests and passions.
But, he cautions them to avoid getting too enthusiastic about themselves or their accomplishments.
Rather, he says, talk about how much enjoyment you derive from managing teams or finding unconventional ways of problem-solving.
Bottom line: you want to come across as spirited enough to let your interviewer know you’ll be a real asset to the company you’re seeking to join.
4. Look Ahead More than Behind
Never forget that what you’ve done to prepare for your next position has already occurred. And know that your career advancement is a “forward-looking” process.
It’s something that’s going to take place in the future.
That’s why many of the experts agree that, in interviews, job seekers can do themselves a service by focusing squarely on their potential and the key aspects that will qualify them going forward.
Let me give you an example: in the interview, you’re demonstrating that you’re a good listener with solid people skills. This sends your interviewer the message that you’ll carry those qualities into your new job.
Or, you can mention your interest in training and furthering your knowledge of the business aviation industry. That way, you’re letting him or her know that your value to the flight department will only increase as time goes on.
5. Accentuate the Positive!
Like the old song instructs us: “Accentuate the positive/Eliminate the negative.”
Never, ever make the mistake of complaining about a former boss or department. You’ll come across as a naysayer and—even worse—disloyal.
No matter what the circumstances of you having left your old job or company, always try and put a positive spin on the reasons why.
For instance, you might say, “I was ready to move into a more challenging role.” Or, “As my career evolved, I could see that my interests were focused more on x than y. I knew that I would be able to find a more in-depth connection to x at the job I’m applying for.”
Your Turn . . .
In your various career advancement experiences, I’m sure you have our own formula for making the most of a job interview and not coming across as the proverbial schmuck.
If so, we’d love to hear from you how you turned a potentially ho-hum interview into one that positively captured your interviewer’s attention and admiration.