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About tooting your horn during the interview

Tell me about yourself.

Responding to those four words during a job interview may send you into a panic, but it’s your best chance to make a lasting impression. A carefully crafted portrait of yourself will make it easy for employers to choose you for the job. “Interviewers aren’t interested in hearing you robotically recap your resume.” state Deb Gottesman and Buzz Mauro, authors of “The Interview Rehearsal Book: Seven Steps to Job Winning Interviews Using Acting Skills You Never Knew You Had.” Though you can’t know exactly what the interviewer wants to know, according to Gottesman and Mauro, you can assume they want to hear a range of information, from specific stories about your accomplishments, to the kind of impact you want to make in the future – even information about your personal life.

While you may be shy about tooting your own horn, it’s difficult to convince someone that you’re the person they want if you can’t promote your assets, say Gottesman and Mauro. “Talking about your strengths in a job interview isn’t bragging; it’s simply providing the potential employer with information she needs to assess your suitability for the position,” they write. While many job candidates try to sell themselves in a wishy-washy, apologetic manner, self-confidence is the best thing you can take with you to the interview.

To gain confidence and identify your achievements and assets, they recommend writing “ I am …” at the top of a piece of paper and spend five minutes finishing this sentence with as many positive traits as you can think of. Next, sort through the list you just made and identify five qualities that you are most proud of. Then take some time to complete this statement, “I demonstrated my (positive attribute) when I .  . .”  These completed statements are proof that you are what you say you are. These specific achievements are what will set you apart from other job candidates.

The next step during this crucial point in the interview is to let the interviewer know how you can put your experiences to work for them. Pick three traits from your original list that would be the most useful in the job you’re interviewing for.  Create specific statements utilizing these traits, like “I could put my attentiveness to detail to work for you by double checking the annual report each year.”

From your perspective, the purpose of the interview is to get a second interview and a job offer, but for many employers the purpose of the interview is to find a reason to eliminate you from the second interview – they want to know why they should not hire you, according to Ronald Krannich, Ph.D., and author of “Change Your Job, Change your Life.” “Since the interviewer wants to identify your weakness, you must encounter by communicating your strengths to lessen the interviewer’s fears of hiring you,” says Krannich.

Also, don’t underestimate the importance of nonverbal communication. “While we tend to concentrate on what we say, research shows approximately 65 percent of all communication is nonverbal,” “Honesty, intelligence and likability – three of the most important values you want to communicate to employers – are primarily communicated non-verbally,” Krannich states. To be sure you embody these traits, Krannich recommends practicing the interview with someone you know before the real deal. “You should prepare for the interview as if it were a $1,000,000 prize,” he states. “The more you practice, the better prepared you will be for the real job interview.” And don’t forget about the importance of playing a role in the interview, stress Gottesman and Mauro.

Decide what aspects of your personality you want to be in focus – this is your role. “Be in character from the moment you leave your house.”  Be ready to make a great impression on everyone you encounter, from people you pass on the way to the interview, to the company secretary. Finally, they suggest arriving a few minutes early to the interview. Use the time to review your resume and the statements you created earlier, to remind yourself of your traits and accomplishments not listed.

About Barbachano International

Barbachano International (BIP) is the premier executive search and leadership advisory firm in the Americas (USA, Mexico, Latin America, & Canada) with a focus on diversity and multicultural target markets.  Outplacement and Executive Coaching services are provided by our sister allied company Challenger Gray & Christmas. Since 1992, BIP and its affiliates have impacted the profitability of over 50% of Fortune 500 Companies.  BIP has been recognized by Forbes as Americas’ Best Executive Search Firms and currently ranks #27 and #3 on the West Coast.  Headquartered in San Diego, California with satellite offices in Florida and Mexico.  As member-owners of NPAworldwide Recruitment Network, we are supported by partner offices in over 50 countries.


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