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Job Interviews: Don’t Just Tell – Sell!

Job Interviews: Don't Just Tell - Sell!Many job seekers miss the boat in job interviews, because they forget that the purpose of answering every question is to market themselves for the job.

You never forget that, right?

You’d be amazed how many questions you may answering is a less-than-strategic way. Most job seekers, at least occasionally, answer interview questions as if they were filling in a form: providing information by rote.

Let’s look at an example.


“What are the three most important skills for a human resources generalist role like this one?”


“Organization, communication and interpersonal skills like empathy and diplomacy are absolutely critical.”

Okay, that answer shows you have some understanding of the role you’re interviewing for. But do you have those skills? That’s the part where you sell yourself!

Better Answer:

“Organization is really important. I couldn’t have handled my role at BCD Co. as well as I did – as you saw in my LinkedIn recommendations – if I hadn’t been very methodical and organized. For example, I developed a system to track resolution of issues with our new EFG procedures. My manager often said things like ‘I love it that you’re so systematic.’

“Then there’s interpersonal skills like empathy and diplomacy, which may be even more important. For example, we had a conflict between two employees who …”

Is this too long? It may look long on paper, but if you take an organized approach to your answer – including relevant key points without rambling – it would probably take about one minute. A concise but complete answer can take some preparation, but this is a common question so you would be likely to have it on your interview questions list.

Let’s look at another example.


“What do you know about our company?”

Of course if you’ve looked at the company’s website you can clearly explain the company’s products, market niche, and so on.

But how can you go beyond just answering the question to really sell yourself with your answer? Here are some examples that might work, depending on your situation.

  • Dig deeper. Read news articles. Talk to people. (If you’re really savvy and interested, you may have put this company on your target companies list and you’ve been following them for quite a while. Say so, and demonstrate your knowledge.)
  • Offer ideas for new approaches, solutions or products. Be humble, but show that you’re already thinking about how you can add value.
  • Tell what attracts you about the company. Don’t wait for them to ask “Why do you want to work with us?” Bring your enthusiasm for their company into the whole interview.
  • Point out how your skills or interests relate to the company, e.g., they sell outdoor equipment and you’re an avid backpacker.

Using every question and answer to sell yourself in a job interview will give you a much better chance of getting the offer.

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