You might not have known this, but job interviews are really all about marketing when it comes down to it.
It goes both ways, too: the candidate is trying to market themselves to the company, and at the same time, the company is trying to convince the candidate that this is a great place to work.
But when you’re the candidate in this situation, it can feel a lot more one-sided, like you’re doing everything you can to earn a spot and secure a nice salary for yourself.
It’s also no secret that job interviews can be difficult. On top of the wide range of questions you’ll be asked that you need to respond to in real-time, you also might be feeling nervous since there’s so much at stake.
You can’t decide what your first impression will be, or can you?
This article will give you some tips for how to promote yourself in an interview, from how you dress and act during the conversation to ways that you can prepare prior to the interview.
Stick to these and you’ll have a much better chance of effectively communicating your greatest professional strengths.
Do your homework ahead of time
Let’s begin with preparation for the interview. Even before you step inside the room, you need to already have a few things worked out.
One very important consideration is researching the company in question before you get there, and we don’t just mean re-reading the job description a few times.
If the company has a website (which just about all companies in existence have), read up on it. Dig into the company history. Learn about how they’ve changed over the years.
If there’s a Wikipedia article on the company, even better. You’ll get a slightly more objective viewpoint on the company’s history and any controversies they might have had.
We’re not suggesting any of this research so that you can ace a company-related quiz during the interview. They almost definitely won’t be asking about these details in the interview at all, outside of maybe a quick question about your impressions of the company so far.
It’s more about knowing what kind of company they are at heart and what qualities they look for in their leaders and employees.
Once you have a much better idea of what those qualities are, then you can highlight those qualities in your answers to their questions.
Projecting confidence can be accomplished in many different ways. This section will also probably have a few standard job interview tips that you’ve heard many times before, but that’s because they’re solid enough to include in any discussion on job interview tactics.
For example, some of the easiest starting tips here involve how you present yourself on a literal, visual level. In other words, make yourself look nice and get dressed up for the occasion, but also don’t get overdressed.
If you’re a man, wearing a full suit isn’t always the best option, especially if what they tend to wear at this place of work is closer to business casual or even just plain casual.
Try to find a good middle ground where you look clean and professional but not like you’re on your way to a wedding.
You can also project confidence in the way that you carry yourself. Pay careful attention to your posture, both when sitting and standing.
If the interviewers offer a handshake, be firm and make eye contact. Even if you’re feeling nervous, try to appear comfortable.
To get the right headspace, you might imagine that you already know the workplace well, that you’ve been in here many times.
Your attitude will still be professional, but you also won’t look quite as bewildered or concerned.
Even the way in which you speak can communicate confidence to the interviewer(s). If you need to think about a specific response, don’t fill the gaps with filler words like hmm, ahh, or yeah.
When you are ready to answer a question, speak calmly and clearly. Maintain eye contact as needed rather than looking around the room.
Reference past accomplishments
There will be plenty of interviews where the interviewer(s) ask you to specifically list one or two of your past major professional accomplishments.
In these situations, it’s usually easy enough to narrow it down to one or two career victories that you’re happy to talk about.
But it can get tricky when they ask you to talk about a time when you had to deal with a very specific type of situation.
If this happens, resist the nagging urge to make up a scenario that feels like it fits those parameters.
This might be hard to hear, but if you don’t have a relevant anecdote to tell, just say that. We’ll be talking more about honesty in a bit, but for now, we’ll say that letting the interviewer know when you don’t have a great response for a question isn’t just fine, it’s recommended in many interview situations.
In general though, be proud of your past accomplishments. This is precisely the time to talk yourself up and maybe even seem a bit cocky. This is the time to prove your value.
Answer questions honestly
There’s a long-lasting and prevailing notion that it’s ok to lie just a bit on your resume or during an important job interview.
While it might be technically ok on the legal side of things, we really don’t recommend trying to bolster your real-world abilities with fabrications and exaggerations.
For one, honesty really is just the best policy. It will let you communicate accurately and set an important professional standard should you be offered a job with this company.
But on a much more practical and immediate level, being honest during a job interview will enhance your ability to be in the moment and focus on important pieces of information.
Most people are just plain bad at lying, and interviewers definitely take notice of something like that.
Be yourself. Be confident in who you are as a professional and show just how valuable you could be. In the end, that’s what it’s all about.