|© Sylvia Henderson. All rights reserved.|
How often have you interviewed for a school, job, or professional opportunity and said, in so many words, “Hire me. I’m wonderful?” When you present your academic and work qualifications and tell your interviewer all the great accomplishments you achieved, you are essentially saying how wonderful you are. While your intent may be to convey the message that you will be an excellent student or hire—or that you deserve the promotion you seek, what the interviewer hears is that you are a legend in your own mind. When I was a hiring manager in a large corporation I encountered many an interviewee telling me how great they were, yet few communicated to me how they could make my company great.
So how do you brag about yourself while conveying your value to an organization? Here are three ways to implement your self-promotion campaign and convey how an organization benefits by having you as a part of them.
Once upon a time… Create stories. Learn about questions typical of the situation for which you plan to interview by researching the organization through social networks, through informational interviews with key personnel, and by asking people you know who know of the organization’s admissions or hiring practices. Then identify your qualifications and positive characteristics you wish to convey. Develop answers that are short stories that tell of situations and how you influenced their positive outcomes, highlighting your qualifications as they relate to the questions.
For example, were I to ask you, “How do you handle people who are rude to you?” because I want to learn your tolerance level for a customer service position, a good response might be a story about a recent situation you encountered that involved someone who was rude to you. Relay how you handled the situation so that the other person changed their attitude and behavior. Then identify how your contribution to the other person’s changed behavior improved the atmosphere in your environment and the outcome of a project on which you were working.
She said; he said. Get testimonials. Testimonials are more than references. References are people whose contact information you have so that interviewers can reach them to verify your attendance, employment, and performance. Testimonials are statements from people who say how you are wonderful for you (instead of you saying it yourself). Other people bragging about you are more believable than you bragging about yourself.
For example, if I were to ask you, “What is your least favorite subject?” and for you it is math (when you are interviewing to be an intern at an architectural firm), you might consider a response such as: “My guidance counselor noted the other day that she is most impressed with how I tenaciously and diligently sought the help I needed to overcome the challenges I experienced with my math courses. She mentioned to the department chair that she heard from three of my classmates how they were inspired to work harder and overcome their discouragement because they saw how I stayed motivated and put forth extra effort to conquer an essential, yet least-favorite subject for myself.” Note how you identify the subject—especially one that is important to the industry for which you are interviewing—yet you turn the negative into showcasing your positive attributes through the observations of your guidance counselor. Through her testimonial you brag about your characteristics that help you overcome difficulties and inspire others.
Here’s a bonus suggestion to the testimonials—ask people to recommend you at your social media profiles. Ask them to be specific with characteristics and accomplishments.
Name-drop. Identify people in leadership positions with whom you work closely. It is said that people who associate with successful people are more likely to be successful themselves. We are energized—or de-energized—by those with whom we associate. When you identify how you work with people known for their accomplishments or whose positions imply accomplishments, you convey a level of status for yourself that implies accomplishment. Be careful with this technique. There is a fine balance between insinuating you are great just because you know people who are famous or popular, versus telling how you actually work with people in power positions.
For example, if you talk about how you helped your minister organize a faith-based class; how you volunteered and worked beside the Executive Director of a non-profit; what you did one-on-one with your Principal; the results you achieved for your team when you presented to your company President and her two Managing Directors, then you show that you (a.) actually worked with these people in influential positions and (b.) that they hold you at some level of respect in their eyes.
Tell stories. Get testimonials. Identify people in leadership positions with whom you work closely. Implement your self-promotion campaign using these techniques and convey how an organization benefits by having you as a part of them.