Developing Your Career

Preparing for the Interview: Learning to Talk About Yourself

By Jean Baur on April 4, 2013

One of the most challenging aspects of preparing for interviews involves a radical change in perspective. When you’re working, you’re focused on your job, whether it’s meeting a critical deadline, giving a presentation, or designing a new process. You’re often not focused on talking about what you do.  You’re focused on doing it. But to be ready for interviews you must change your focus and learn how to talk effectively about yourself.

To start, make a list of the key words that describe your strengths. Then create proof points – detailed examples that support how you describe yourself.  How did you put leadership, critical thinking or collaboration into action? Enlist outside help. Your script could go like this: “As I get ready to interview, I want to make sure I’m talking effectively about myself so that my skills, experience and personal attributes are convincing. I’d like to get your advice as you’ve seen my skills in action. Would you have 15 minutes to help me with this? I’d be very happy to meet you at your office, take you out for coffee, or whatever is convenient.”

This outreach is smart for a few reasons: you’ll get ideas and language you may not have considered, you’ll have a chance to practice, and these conversations lay the foundation for future networking. Someone who has helped you get ready for an interview may also be likely to help in other ways. And remember, you aren’t boasting or bragging – you’re simply learning to tell others about the work you’ve done.

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Jean Baur is a career coach for Lee Hecht Harrison and author of “Eliminated! Now What? Finding Your Way from Job-Loss Crisis to Career Resilience.” Her latest book, “The Essential Job Interview Handbook” will be out in the fall of 2013. Visit Jean’s Blog which offers advice and guidance for individuals conducting a job search.

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