How to pitch yourself perfectly during an interview

The top 5 tips for impressing an interview panel

When you speak to hiring managers, there’s a fine line between selling yourself short and appearing overconfident. It can be frustrating to hear that you were perceived as being either too self-assured, or not forthcoming enough post-interview. If you’ve ever received these kinds of comments during your job search, don’t let this put you off. Instead, spend some time evaluating your approach to find the right balance which will enable you to communicate your true potential.

1 - Appear knowledgeable, but willing to learn

Even the most qualified leaders in business continue to learn as they go. As a candidate, you should also have a thirst for knowledge, recognising that you’ll always need to keep adding to your CV. It may be that you’re used to working one way, but the company you’re interviewing for takes a different tactic. Outstanding applicants will be open to new practices. They can study fresh approaches and evaluate them, using their past experience to decide what truly works best. When you outline your expertise, always link this to the skills you plan to acquire next.

2 - Back up your success stories with facts

Recruiters want candidates to evidence their skills and experience. Now is not the time to be humble about your achievements, but neither is it the time to make bold claims (without the right examples to back up your answers). What outstanding moments have you had in your career so far? Make sure you have a list of these up your sleeve before you walk into an interview. But, more than this, commit to memory the key figures you need to demonstrate that your efforts really had an impact. Whether you’re naturally confident or not, let the facts do the talking.

3 - Ask the questions nobody else does

It’s not just about what you say, it’s also about what you ask. For hiring managers, this can be incredibly insightful. Your questions show what you’re interested in, whether you understand what’s been discussed and how your mind works. So, make sure you’re listening and responding as well as talking about yourself. Think about the company you’re applying to beforehand. How successful are they? How is this measured? And how could you add your own unique insights to improve on this? If you can make your own suggestions, you’ll show that you’re a strong, creative candidate.

4 - Take ownership, but acknowledge support

While some candidates appear to take credit for every team success, others find it difficult to articulate ways in which they’ve contributed. When you’re working in a tight-knit team, it can be challenging to differentiate between a collective group effort and individual moments of genius. However, to stand out in interview, you should be clear how you’ve contributed to project goals. The best candidates will be able to talk about their achievements, as well as how they’ve been supported by their colleagues. Although there is no ‘I’ in team, always be proud of the work you’ve done (and take ownership of it).

5 - Let your personality shine through

If you can build a rapport with a hiring manager, you’re halfway to the finishing line. Don’t tie yourself up in knots about how you should appear during an interview. Instead, try to relax and be yourself. Employers see many different types of candidates – some are naturally confident, and some are quieter. At the end of the day, this shouldn’t matter in itself if you have the right expertise for the job. Of course, a recruiter will want to know that you can work well with people, but they’re not interested in whether you’ll be onstage (or as far away as possible) during a team karaoke night. Therefore, focus on conveying your enthusiasm for the role in a way that feels comfortable to you.

About the author

Iain Beaumont founded Winning Interviews to help people excel when it comes to pitching themselves for a job.  He has conducted over 200 job interviews and read over 1,000 CVs throughout his career, so knows how to spot talent when it comes along.  By passing on that experience and knowledge, Iain hopes to help other people succeed and get the job they really want

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