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When I went for my first job interview two years ago, I had no idea what I was doing. University hadn’t taught me interview etiquette and I had to make it up as I went along. I look back on my old blog: How to succeed in a graduate job interview and can admire how much I have grown. The girl who wrote that didn’t understand the importance of authenticity. It’s pointless going into an interview pretending to be someone that your not. A good interviewer/ panel will be able to see straight through this.

You should aim to be yourself, but on a really good day.

It’s important to remember that getting an interview is half the battle won. Employers read hundreds of application forms and only select a handful of people to interview. Your application has sparked their interest and you already meet the important elements of the job specification. The interview is your opportunity to put your skills into context. You need to take the interviewer on a journey; highlighting your achievements, challenges and commitment to personal development. I hope this blog will show you how easy it is to sell yourself in an interview.

Research the organisation 

How did you pick your university? I’m sure you skimmed their prospectus, attended an open day or even watched a video. You need to do the same research when applying to work for an organisation.

  • What is their mission statement, aims and values?
  • What is their strategic plan and how could you contribute towards this?
  • What are their recent achievements?
  • Are their opportunities for personal development?
  • What are the employee benefits?

In my opinion these things should be researched and considered before applying for the job. You should be sure that you want to work for the organisation.

If you choose to attend an interview you should know all of the above information. The interviewer is likely to ask you at least one question to find out your knowledge of their organisation. If their missions/aims/values are issues that you care about mention this. This gives the interviewer an early indication of what you are passionate about and what motivates you. You are more likely to be selected for a job if your experiences and knowledge are relevant to the organisations mission and strategy.

Be able to confidentially articulate your knowledge/skills/experiences 

Good communication skills are essential in all jobs. If you aren’t able to articulate your suitability for the job, how will the interviewer know that you can work in teams, with clients or present information in meetings? It’s normal to be nervous, interviews are uncomfortable situations. It’s good to smile and even laugh .

Everyone has funny experiences and you shouldn’t feel that you can’t talk about them in an interview.

When you are asked a question really think about what information is being asked Common questions are:

  • Tell me about a time when you successfully managed a difficult client?
  • Tell me about a time when a project didn’t go to plan?
  • What are your weaknesses and how did you manage/ overcome them?
  •  Why did you apply for this role?

The possible questions are endless. I think the most interesting one would be the question about weaknesses. When most people apply for a job they don’t consider the areas they may struggle with. For example, I am a student advisor and I have to make difficult decisions on a daily basis. One of my weaknesses is that I may become too emotionally involved in a case. In order to manage this, I may decide to work on the case with another advisor or hand it over completely. Being able to identify and manage your weaknesses shows the interviewer that you are able to problem solve and manage difficult situations.

Ask them questions

If you went to your university open day you will remember all of the questions you asked the student ambassadors. What was the night life like and were the tutors supportive? You spend most of your life at work so it’s important to be in an environment that enables growth and happiness. For me the organisation’s mission, company culture and personal development opportunities are important. You are given the opportunity to ask questions at the end of your interview. This can be the best part as you are putting the interviewer/ panel on the spot. They have to sell the organisation to you. Don’t think that these questions have to be insightful. Ask about the things that are important to you.

The job market is tough and it’s important to be able to sell yourself to employers. They want to recruit talented individuals who they can train and develop. The interview is your opportunity to show your potential.

Do you have any tips for selling yourself in a job interview?