“A person who doubts himself is like a man who would enlist in the ranks of his enemies and bear arms against himself.”
– Alexandre Dumas
We are brought up with the strict warning “don’t brag about yourself”. Two of the seven deadly sins, pride and vainglory, warn us against being immodest. It is no mystery that when it becomes time for people to “crow” about themselves in an interview many candidates feel too uncomfortable to let their light shine through.
When I coach people for interviews I see two common reactions to my direction to boast a bit. The two reactions are:
I have nothing to brag about
Many job seekers have been busy doing a job that they consider to be routine and “nothing special”. When it comes time to identify the skills they have developed and the benefits they have to offer they are unable to do so. I just worked with an individual who had been doing “accounting” work for 20 years with the same company. When asked to talk about why he should be hired he was totally at a loss. It was only after thinking through the details of his job, considering the international scope of the company’s work, and reviewing his training that he was able to realize he had a strong set of marketable skills. I suggest you go through the same process. Write down the details of the job you perform, consider the company’s market and think about the benefits you provide to your company. These are the things you can brag about in your interview.
I have a hard time talking about myself
Many clients are just uncomfortable talking about themselves. They are modest people who typically do not focus a conversation on themselves. Their challenge is overcoming many years of avoiding the limelight. The best way to overcome this barrier is to write down a brief script about yourself and read it over and over until you become comfortable. The script can consist of statements about what you do well, why you are a good choice for an employee and what differentiates you from other people. Try to overstate your case and amplify your good points (don’t worry your overstatement is probably just right). Become comfortable saying your script first to yourself and then practice with others. Saying it out loud will be very helpful.
An interview is a sales call. Can you imagine a good sales person being modest about their product and having a successful sale? Convincing a hiring manager you are the best choice depends on being able to sell your benefits and a bit of bragging helps.