Everyone knows that pitching yourself is key, but overdo it and you’ll turn the interviewer off. You need to strike the right balance between talking about the company you’re interviewing with and talking about yourself. Suppose you start off with, “Here’s why I’d be great for this job. Here are my accomplishments.” You’ve just dug a hole for yourself, because you’re making the interview all about you.
Instead, start with explaining how you admire the company, its accomplishments, and leadership. If you can, show you know something about the person interviewing you. Express your excitement about that particular position. In short, talk about the opportunity–and then show why your qualifications make you such a good fit. Your interviewers will be impressed. You’ve made the connection between the job and your abilities, and so will they.
2. How will I tout both my knowledge and my teamwork?
Be proud of what you’ve done and your credentials, but remember, you’ll lose big points if you come across as a know-it-all. Be sure to acknowledge the people who mentored you and teammates who helped you with your achievements. The interviewer wants to know that you work well with others and give credit where it’s due. Sounding too smart will make people feel that you won’t fit in, that if you’re hired you will tell your team just how to do things, and when they get it wrong, you’ll tell them how stupid they are. So be careful.
Don’t put down others or correct the person interviewing you. If you say you restructured an organization that was badly in need of your expertise, you’re dissing your former colleagues. If you correct the person interviewing you by saying, “Well, actually, I didn’t work for that division,” or “I’m late because I think you sent me the wrong time in my Google Calendar,” you might as well kiss the job goodbye. Even if you’re right, you’re wrong to sound superior.
3. How do I avoid sounding passive?
Interviewers will ask you specific questions. Answer them but also come prepared to shape the dialogue. The secret is to prepare a narrative that shows your strengths and illustrates why the job is right for you. This script should have a main message about you, as well as key supporting points explaining why you feel qualified for the position.
When you’re asked a question, let the answer flow into the material you have prepared. If the interviewer asks, “What is your most outstanding characteristic as a leader?” you’ll have the answer and more: “I see myself as a leader who can inspire others. I do this in several ways. First . . . ” This preparation will give you a stronger presence. It also means that when you leave the room, you won’t have regrets about failing to mention any of the reasons that make you a strong candidate.