How to talk highly about yourself in an interview without being a show-off


During a job interview, the employer will go off verbal and non-verbal cues to judge each applicant. The talent, knowledge and skills a person has are hard to judge in a short interview. And yet, interviews are and will remain to be part of the hiring process.

Talking about yourself can be tricky, particularly when your work speaks for itself – isn’t it clear in your enthusiasm, the way you’ve dressed, or your past work history that you’re the right fit? Probably not – you’ll have to be more explicit. Don’t rely on subtleties to get you through the rounds of interviews. We’ve listed tips on how to highlight what you’re good at without sounding like you’re full of yourself.

Quantify your most relevant experience
To make a judgement, people will use your history as an indicator to predict what you are capable of in future. Tell them about your work history by giving them a brief set of facts about what you have done. Avoid going into too much detail – if they’re interested in a point, they may ask you to provide more information. If you mistakably assume they need to know more and continue to waffle on, you risk looking like you’re absorbed in talking about yourself. Stick to some key points and save the details for when they ask for them.

Focus on your potential
The employer is doing their best to make an informed decision about who is going to be the best fit for the role. By describing the key qualities of your potential, you can help them see whether you’re the right person for them to take a bet on. The three key areas for you to focus on are your ability to learn, drive for work and people skills. The key to talking about your potential is to stay away from generic statements such as ‘I’m a fast learner’ or ‘I’m reliable and loyal’. Instead, draw on our first point and take use past scenarios to demonstrate how your qualities have shown up in real-life examples.

Round up your advocates
Your reputation is based on what other people think of you. Having the right person put in a good word for you is a way to prove to an employer that someone does vouch for you – that what you’ve said about yourself on your resume or during the interview can be verified by another person. If other people are advocates for you, you won't need to put as much effort into trying to promote yourself. Identify who would provide a glowing recommendation of your work and ask them to be a reference or submit a letter of recommendation. Ideally, choose people who are relevant to the job you’re going for and can share positive experiences of working with you.

Remember that each interviewer is going to be looking for something in particular. Their ideas of what is relevant or appropriate throughout the interview will vary from person to person. Keep the above points in mind, but during the interview try to stay out of your own head. Make sure you’re paying attention to the interviewer. That way you can accurately respond to what they’re asking from you so they can make a decision. 

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