Being good at your job is great, but in an interview situation, be it face-to-face or via video, your potential new employer or partner doesn’t just want to know where you’ve worked and what you’ve done, they also want to hear what you’ve achieved.
But how do those of us in the notoriously narcissistic professional services sector manage to sell ourselves on the merit of our past achievements without sounding like pompous bores? And quite frankly, especially here in the UK, no one likes a bragger.
As Walt Whitman said, “If you done it, it ain’t bragging”, but so-called ‘humble brag’ is something of an art form indeed – a delicate balance that can easily waver on one side into indifference and on the other into arrogance. To help you navigate that precipice with aplomb, we’ve selected a few tips that should help you to sell yourself as a genuine and motivated candidate rather than an egotistical blowhard.
Stick with the facts
Self-promotion should always come across not as an opinion but as a matter of fact. Utilise provable statistics and results instead of vague statements.
If you’re a Business Development Manager, for example, prove that your input managed to result in an increase in profits for a certain organisation instead of making grand and soulless boasts. Facts backed up with evidence are not brags, they’re statements.
Brevity is the soul of wit
Don’t labour the point once you’ve made it. If you’ve managed to get your achievements across and it’s obvious it has been registered, don’t waste valuable minutes going over the intricacies when you could be moving on to another accomplishment.
Tell a story
Whilst facts and figures can be strong and compelling, without anecdotal evidence to back them up they are unlikely to be remembered. If you can weave your accomplishments into a narrative that also somehow underlines a few of your more desirable soft skills then you are far more likely to make an impression.
Don’t go overboard
If you are attempting to mask your natural braggadocios nature by being overly self-effacing then this can backfire. Dismissing your own contributions not only makes you seem less confident but could strike an interviewer as a more conceited form of arrogance. Be humble and show gratitude for the successes that others might have helped you to achieve, but don’t sell yourself short either.
Be subtle and relevant
Subtlety is always key when you’re selling yourself, whether that’s based on your skills or your achievements. Just as important, however, is the context in which you drop your promotional asides. If you drop them seemingly at random then they will not only be less effective, but they will come across as pointlessly arrogant.
Work your self-promotion subtly into the conversation at moments when it is touching on why the job interests you, your passions and your previous roles. With no context and if your points are not relevant to the position or the interviewer then you run the risk of seeming desperate and incompetent.
Studies have shown that 80% of what we learn is gone within 24 hours. That makes it much less likely that your message is the one that sticks unless it’s one that is reinforced by genuine achievement. The key to interview success, however, is in being able to talk openly about your accomplishments and to know when to speak and when to hold back.
This is something a good, quality professional services recruitment specialist would almost certainly be able to help you master, but the tools are already there if you know where to look.
Ultimately, there’s no shame in being proud of your accomplishments but if you don’t understand how to strike the right balance in an interview then your pride could be mistaken for arrogance.
The key is in being attentive, reading the situation and adapting your tactics accordingly. It’s a fine line to tread but as long as you stay true to yourself and stick to relevant, thoughtful examples that reflect who you are and what you have to offer then you should have nothing to worry about.