Sell yourself at Interview without being slick and slimey

Ange Connor

A job interview is your opportunity to sell yourself and the skills, qualifications and experience that you have to offer and to demonstrate your suitability for the vacancy. It’s your opportunity to demonstrate why the organisation should select you for the job. I’m often told by job seekers in my interview coaching programs that the hardest part of the interview for them is selling or promoting or highlighting their expertise.

Many people feel a high degree of discomfort when they have to talk about themselves, their skills and why they are good at what they do. People typically fear that they’ll sound like they are full of themselves, are in love with themselves or will sound cocky and arrogant. Most people dislike boasting about their skills, talking themselves up and struggle to identify what exactly it is about them that makes them good at their job. Often what we take for granted what we do in our job because it has become second nature and we don’t take a step back and think about what it is that makes us good at what we do. We don’t acknowledge or appreciate our genius.

However, if you can’t effectively articulate what it is you have to offer then you are going to struggle to win your dream job. The interview is one of the most crucial steps in the recruitment process and if you can’t share with the recruiter or hiring manager why you are a great fit for the job you’re going to forever stumble at the interview stage. So how do you sell yourself at interview without sounding like a used car salesman or sounding like you have tickets on yourself?

To overcome your fear of selling yourself it’s important to understand in your own mind what traits and behaviours make you think someone is salesy or cocky or full of themselves. Think of the times you have encountered a slick and slimey sales person. What was it about them that repulsed you and made you think of them as salesy and/or slimey? The way they communicated (tone), the way they presented (body language) and the way they dressed probably had quite a bit to do with it, but much of it would have been about what they were saying to you.

Maybe it was the retail sales assistant who was telling you that the outfit you were trying on looked fabulous and stunning even though you felt uncomfortable and hated the way it emphasised parts of your body that you were self-conscious of. Chances are they kept repeating that same statement, or similar statements meaning the same thing. You most likely felt they were being pushy and just wanted to make a sale. It’s unlikely they provided any evidence or justification of why they thought the outfit looked fabulous on you. Chances are the delivery of their message wasn’t backed up with evidence.

Maybe the salesy and slimey person that springs to mind is the car salesman who kept telling you they could see you driving around in the car you have taken for a test drive. That the car so suits you and that it will be perfect for you even though you have told him/her that the car is too big for what you want and that it’s a bit out of your budget. Yet they keep telling you it suits you and that they know won’t regret the purchase. Again, chances are that they are simply sharing their opinion, they don’t provide any examples or evidence as to why they think this new car will be great for you and suit your lifestyle. They don’t demonstrate what value or benefit there is in you stretching your budget and what the added benefits will be for you. They simply keeping making statements about you and how great this car will be for you without demonstrating why they think this.

It’s exactly the same when you are at the interview table. If you pitch your answers correctly you can avoid sounding salesy, slimey, cheesy, arrogant and cocky if you respond to the question in the right way.

Here’s how you can do it.

If you simply state your opinion and keep stating your opinion of how great, excellent, spectacular your skills are and dropping the titles of your qualifications there is a high chance that you’ll sound salesy, slimey, cheesy, arrogant and cocky. However, if you highlight the relevant skills you want to promote for a particular question and then back it up with evidence and demonstrate how and why that skill is an asset; how it will help you fulfil the requirements of the job, then you will completely shift the focus. Instantly your opinion of your self comes off the table and you are answering the question by demonstrating and using evidence to help the interviewer understand your experiences and relate that to the job you are being considered for. Providing as much detail as possible with plenty of context so the interviewer can easily understand, interpret and relate your experience to the skills required for the job you are being considered for is crucial. You want to make it as easy as possible for the recruiter to understand. When you move from opinion based answers to answers that demonstrate and evidence your strengths you will be perceived in a completely different manner.

Think back to the example of the salesy retail assistant or car salesman. If they had of backed their statements up with evidence about why the outfit made you look so good. Or explained the value of purchasing the vehicle that was out of your budget because it was going to save you money over time or was more economical or would hold its value better based on previous resales they had seen, you would have a different perception of them, right?

Avoiding sounding salesy, slimey, cocky, arrogant or full of yourself comes down to how you deliver the message. Make it genuine by removing the opinion and instead focus on demonstrating the fact.

About The Author
Ange Connor

Ange is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource (HR) and careers agencies. Ange is an ‘ideas’ person and a ‘big picture’ thinker. She loves to challenge the status quo – in fact, that’s how Inspire HQ began.

Ange has supported hundreds of businesses across Ballarat and regional Victoria to attract, engage, motivate, develop and retain their greatest assets; their people. Ange’s unyielding passion and invaluable knowledge of the recruitment and HR industry ensures she delivers the best solutions for her clients.

Ange has held various board positions and regularly volunteers her time to share her industry and market knowledge. She was recently a Councillor for the Victoria and Tasmania region of the Recruitment Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA) of Australia and New Zealand, and she is a current Board Director of the Committee for Ballarat.

For more useful information, follow Ange on LinkedIn.

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