Selling yourself in an interview can seem a bit intimidating at first. Many job-seekers know it’s important, but they have no idea where to start (or what it even means).
This guide will teach you how to sell yourself in an interview and make a fantastic impression while doing so.
What Does it Mean to Sell Yourself in an Interview?
When you hear the term “selling yourself” in a job interview, it means that you’re detailing exactly why you would be an asset to the company. And really, that should be the priority of any job interview you participate in. You want to make yourself as appealing to the hiring manager as possible, providing all the information they need to conclude that you’re the must-have candidate.
Many people are familiar with the idea of selling a product to a consumer. But in this case, the product is you, and the consumer is the hiring manager. When it comes to selling yourself in an interview the goal is to highlight your qualifications, show why your skills would be an asset in this role, and set yourself apart as a candidate worth remembering.
How to Sell Yourself in an Interview
Selling yourself in a job interview requires more than spouting off a bunch of facts the hiring manager can easily find on your resume. It’s about creating an entire package and leaving a lasting impression from the moment you walk into the office.
Here are some tips that make all the difference.
1. Find Out Who You’ll Be Talking To
A big part of preparing for a job interview is doing research. Looking into the company and position itself is always a plus. But if you really want to sell yourself, find out who you’ll be speaking with during your interview.
You don’t need to know their entire life story, but you should understand their role within the company. This detail matters because what’s important to one person might not be as important to another.
For example, a C-suite executive will likely be more interested in your interests and how you fit into the company. Meanwhile, a hiring manager wants to know what you’ll bring to this position, and a human resources representative is more interested in your qualifications.
Knowing who you’ll talk to can help you mold your image and develop appropriate responses.
The best way to find out who you’ll be interviewing with is to ask when the interview is scheduled.
2. Ask Good Questions
At some point, the interviewer will turn things around and allow you to ask questions. Don’t be one of those candidates that says they have all the information they need and ends the conversation. This is a chance to set yourself apart!
Think of some insightful questions that cement your interest. Think outside the box and ask about details that most people wouldn’t consider bringing up. Not only do unique questions instantly make you stand out, but it shows that you did your research.
You can pull from your own experiences with the company, ask about the bigger picture, or even refer to recent news that went public. Whatever the case, create a list of unique questions the interviewer doesn’t hear regularly. This is an effective and underrated way to sell yourself in a job interview.
3. Practice Talking About Yourself
For some people, talking about themselves comes naturally. But for others, it can feel awkward. There’s a time and a place to be humble, but this isn’t it.
If that’s you, learning how to sell yourself in an interview will require you to get past this hurdle. Get comfortable talking about your accomplishments. That doesn’t mean you have to boast or be overly braggy. But you should feel fine bringing up the things you’re proud of in your career.
Think about your past career accomplishments and reflect on how they came to fruition. What did you do to get there? Those details make all the difference and paint a memorable picture of your skills and qualifications.
4. Study the Main Points You Want to Mention
Before the interview, list all the main points you want to hit. You have limited time to state your case, and it’s easy to forget little details when answering questions. Keep yourself on track by studying the information that matters.
Look at the job description to understand what the hiring manager is looking for. Then, reflect on your strengths, past experiences, educational qualifications, and more. Memorize the main points demonstrating why you’re the best candidate for the job.
Get comfortable reciting them so you can effortlessly sell yourself during the interview. You can easily incorporate these details into the answers you provide.
You want those critical points in the back of your mind to explain why you’re worthy of a job offer.
5. Show Them That You’re Excited About the Position
A little enthusiasm goes a long way.
You’d be surprised by how much your level of excitement matters. Hiring managers want people who are naturally motivated and passionate about the job. It doesn’t matter if you have terrific qualifications. If you’re not genuinely interested in this job, most companies will pass you over in favor of someone who is.
During your research, find details about the job that excites you. Bring them up during your interview! Talk about what you love about this opportunity and reassure the interviewer that you’re 100 percent in and ready to dive into the job.
6. Give Examples of What You’ve Achieved
It’s one thing to say that you were successful in previous jobs, but it’s another to provide concrete examples.
Everyone who is trying to sell themselves in a job interview will say that they work hard and have a number of achievements to point to in their career. But what evidence do you have about those accomplishments? Most interviewers will gloss over vague statements.
However, they’ll remember the specifics.
Provide numbers if you can. For example, if you were a fantastic salesperson, talk about the revenue you brought in. Give those all-important sales figures to make it clear you know your stuff.
No matter what your profession is, find a few examples that illustrate your skills.
7. Keep the Needs of the Company in Mind
Don’t assume that this conversation is all about you. While the interviewer is trying to learn more about what you have to offer, the best way to sell yourself in an interview is to focus on the company’s needs. Lean into what they’re looking for and tell them exactly why you’re what they need!
Study the job description and research the company to learn more about its goals. Once you understand what hiring managers are looking for, you can explain how you fit what they are looking for.
Connect the dots between their needs and your qualifications. If they’re looking to increase revenue, tell them how you’ve done that for previous employers. If it’s to solve a specific problem, discuss the skills or experience you have that can help them do this.
Don’t get so caught up in the process of selling yourself that you forget why you’re there. If you keep the company’s needs in mind when responding to questions and asking some of your own, you’ll be in great shape.
8. Highlight How You Plan to Approach the First Couple of Months on the Job
Here’s a great way to sell yourself in an interview. Don’t wait until you have a job offer to develop a plan of attack. Have a rough plan ready to discuss during the interview!
Nothing wows interviewers more than being able to detail precisely what you will do in your first few months. It shows that you’re serious about this opportunity and ready to hit the ground running from day one.
Create a plan that addresses the company’s unique needs. You don’t have to get super detailed, but it pays to have a general strategy in mind.
9. Don’t Drone On
Have you ever had to listen to someone tell a long, boring story? There’s a good chance that you don’t remember a thing they said. Instead, you remember how much they rambled on.
Many people who want to learn how to sell themselves during an interview struggle with this. They get so caught up in the process of saying what they can do that they tell the interviewer every detail of their career.
Don’t be that person!
Keep your answers concise and to the point. Here’s where practice makes a difference. When you know what you need to say and how to convey your ideas, you can get straight to the meat of your responses instead of wasting time with meaningless fluff.
10. Work on Answering Behavioral Interview Questions
Interviewers love to ask behavioral questions. It’s a tactic that forces you to think about what you’d do in specific situations. For example, they might ask how you’d respond to disagreements in the workplace, what you’d do when presented with significant challenges, etc.
It’s not hard to find example behavioral interview questions to help you prepare. Do some research and practice providing concise responses. Many interview experts recommend the S.T.A.R. method. S.T.A.R. stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result.
With behavioral interview questions, you should set up the situation, talk about the task or goal, discuss what actions you took, and highlight the positive result.
11. Don’t Forget to Smile
It sounds cheesy, but smiling makes a big difference. No one likes to work with people who seem too strict or unpleasant. A warm smile can make you stand out from the crowd, reassuring hiring managers that you’re a joy to have around.
Interviews are serious, but that doesn’t mean you can’t practice basic pleasantries. Not only that, but smiling will help you feel more relaxed and confident!
12. Know Your Resume
Most job-seekers spend a lot of time perfecting their resume. But once they finish it and start submitting applications, they forget what details were included. To avoid this, refer to your resume frequently so you feel comfortable talking about anything that it contains.
You never know what questions the interviewer will ask. They might want more details about a job you had several years ago. You won’t be able to sell yourself or deliver a memorable answer if you don’t remember what they’re referring to.
13. Be Mindful of Your Body Language
In addition to smiling, pay attention to your body language. You give off many non-verbal cues when you walk into an interview room. Everything from the way you stand to how you hold your head matters.
Confidence is incredibly important when trying to sell yourself in an interview. That means standing with a straight back, holding your head high, and giving a solid handshake. Eye contact throughout the interview is crucial, too.
Try doing some mock interviews with friends or family. Have them focus on your body language. You don’t always know how you come off until someone points out glaring issues.
Understand what your body language says, and spend time in front of the mirror to correct it.
14. Dress to Impress
What you wear makes a difference during a job interview. Arriving in jeans and casual clothes isn’t the best look. You want to make a great impression, and clothing is an effective way to do that.
Research that company beforehand and learn more about their dress policy. A good rule of thumb is to wear something slightly more formal than the company’s dress code requires.
The only exception is if everyone is wearing a suit and tie. You can’t do much better than business formal. In that case, match the dress code to a tee.
15. Wrap Things Up with Purpose
If you want to learn how to sell yourself in an interview, get comfortable with the idea of developing a solid closing statement. In many cases, the last thing you say is what an interviewer will remember most. So why not go out with a bang?
Prepare a brief statement that sums up your skills and qualifications (and make sure to deliver it within the flow of conversation). By all means, if you want the job, let them know. Reiterate your interest in this position and leave the interviewer with something positive to remember.
Now that you know how to sell yourself in an interview, all that’s left is the preparation!
Refer to this list and spend some extra time on anything that seems particularly challenging. By the time you’re done, you’ll be ready to ace the interview.
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.