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How One Job Seeker Learned How to Stop Being Too Humble in Interviews

by THEA kelley | November 9, 2023

Proud businesswoman who has learned how to stop being too humble in interviewsHow can you stop being too humble in job interviews? Recently I worked with a young professional who was seeking a new role in the field of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), with a focus on overcoming this issue. As a result, she landed an exciting new role with more opportunity to make a difference, not to mention a big boost in salary.

What made the difference for her? Here are the highlights of our discussion. I’ll call her “JS” for Job Seeker.

TK:  When we first started working together you told me your biggest challenge was downplaying your experience, or being too humble in interviews. Did you make progress on that as a result of the coaching?

JS:  Definitely. It had felt hard for me to sell myself. It felt like I was boasting or being selfish by selling my accomplishments.

TK:  How did the coaching process help you overcome that?

JS:  One of the phrases you wrote in your book is that the interview process is about educating the interviewer. That idea transformed my mindset from ‘this is me boasting’ to ‘this is just the process of educating, and providing a fair chance for the interviewer to understand my knowledge and skills.’ That was really helpful.

Also, I gained confidence from the coaching process. You were curious about my experiences and were excited to hear about them, which gave me confidence to share those. You also affirmed several of my experiences that I wasn’t sure were worth sharing, but which ended up being great examples of my skills.

Another thing that made a difference was finding and practicing ways to stand out, to share what makes me different. Because the reality is, interviewing is competitive. It’s necessary and important for folks to remember you and want to give you that offer.

TK:  Did you do homework between our sessions? How did you go about that?

JS:  Quite a bit. I spent a lot of time writing out my accomplishment stories, and then for each interview I prioritized those according to what the interviewers were most likely to ask about. I organized the stories in categories, and even used color coding . . . And I read through them a number of times until I had a solid memory of the key points.

TK:  Did you practice out loud?

JS:  Yes, I did that with the stories, and with my intro [her answer to “tell me about yourself”]. I practiced with my partner and had him ask me the questions.

I also used the app Insight Timer, there’s a meditation on there for prepping for an interview. And I did the breathing and calming practices from your book.

How to stop being too humble in interviews: You can do it, too.

Deciding you’re going to stop being too humble is the first step. And as you can see, there’s more to it. This job seeker worked with me to make sure she wouldn’t undersell herself. She applied her best study skills to master her list of accomplishment stories. The result was clear, confident interview communication that bowled over the hiring committee. Take these ideas and make them your own, for a standout interview that gets the offer!

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