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Highlighting your strengths in an interview

When interviewing you want to present your best self and that includes showcasing your strengths. For some people talking about their strengths or achievements may not come naturally and even feel a little uncomfortable. That’s why it’s important to prepare and possibly even practice ahead of time. Take time to contemplate what areas you excel at and think about specific examples to illustrate your strengths and achievements. If you are not sure where to begin, we recommend starting with SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis and focusing on the strengths. Some questions you can ask yourself are:

What are your best attributes?
Which one of those assets/attributes would you consider to be the strongest?
What gives you an advantage?
What resources do you have?
What do people tell you you’re good at?
What’s been your greatest achievement?

Take time to assess your answers and how they apply to you professionally. The next step is to narrow down which of those strengths are your strongest and those that have helped you professionally in your company and/or with clients. Think of specific examples you can reference in your interview. Additionally, apart from self-analysis, think back to what co-workers and managers have commented on positively about your performance and contributions, or ask friends and family for feedback on what they think your professional strengths are.

We hope this is a helpful reference when assessing your strengths and allows you to go into your next interview confident, focused, and prepared.

Highlighting your strengths in an interview

Words Matter!

You’ve applied for a job and landed an interview - great! You’ve also researched the company’s background and gone through your checklist for interview prep. There is a fair amount of guidance on what to say in interviews, but not as much on what to avoid saying.  Some of this may seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised how often common sense is not so common.  We’ll also look at some other interview do’s and don’ts.

“I hate”
Whatever follows the words “I hate”, whether that’s an aspect of your job, a policy, or your last boss, it’s unprofessional and evocates a negative connotation. Along the same lines, try and avoid words with a clearly negative connotation that may convey a confrontational or inflexible perception of you. This would be words like “won’t” or “don’t”.

Filler Words
This is something many people are so accustomed to using that they do not even realize they’re doing it and certainly not with the frequency with which they do it. These fillers include words like ‘um’, ‘like’ or ‘great question’. Instead of using these words, take a moment in silence to pause if you need to gather your thoughts before answering. You will come across as more confident and likely have a better answer then if you use a filler word before answering the question. This takes a lot of practice if you are someone who has grown accustomed to relying on fillers to carry your conversation so record yourself and work hard to slow down your speech pattern so that the periodic pauses simply come off as you putting thoughtful consideration into your answers.

Curse Words
Even if the company culture is one where such words are acceptable, and even if your interviewer drops a curse word into conversation, you will still want to remain completely professional and not curse during the interview.

“I will do anything to get this job”
Saying “I will do anything to get this job” or “I’ll do anything you ask” comes across as desperate. While you might really want that job, don’t grovel or beg for it. Show them that you are the best candidate for the role and that you working with them would be the perfect partnership for them and for you.

Anything Political
Unless you are applying for a job in politics, it’s best to avoid anything political including words like Democrat, Republican, Conservative, or Liberal. You want to stay away from any controversial topics.

“You Guys”
Using the words “you guys” or “ya’ll”, as we do in casual conversation in the South, during an interview comes across as too informal. It’s better to use words like “your company” or “your team”.

Additional Interview Do’s and Don’ts

Do:

  • Dress appropriately and err on the side of being conservative
  • Arrive 10 minutes early
  • Have a firm handshake, maintain good eye contact, and friendly expression
  • Be polite to everyone you encounter at the company

Don’t:

  • Speak negatively about your previous employer or co-workers
  • Leave your phone on during the interview
  • Fidget or slouch
  • Act disinterested in the job or employer

We hope this is a helpful reference for when you go into your next interview. Be mindful of the words you speak and present yourself in as professional manner as possible.

Words Matter!