Applications / Self awareness

Why should we choose to employ you? How to answer the key question.

This is a question which often pops up right at the end of an interview, just when you think it’s over and you can begin to relax. It’s a tricky one and you’ll want to leave the interview on a high, with the panel thinking well of your performance. So, how do you handle this?

cartoon_megaphone_narrowYou’ll need to strike the old balance between selling yourself effectively without boasting.

So what shouldn’t you do?

  1. 1. Just shrug and look embarrassed.
  2. 2. Criticise others. If you’ve just spent the day at an assessment centre don’t go with the.
  3. “Well, did you notice the guy/girl who was a bit smelly and talked rubbish in the group exercise? You wouldn’t want to employ him/her !”

3. Launch into a full recapitulation of everything you’ve said throughout the interview. It’s likely that the interviewers have been listening to you. Don’t insult or bore them by starting again.

4. Describe yourself with a string of superlatives exhibiting little or no self awareness.

The key thing is not to panic. Think back to the idea of an elevator pitch. It’s great to be given the opportunity to finish an interview like this.

Step 1

Elevator. Business man pointing to transparent board with text: Elevator Pitch

You need to make sure that you put together your pitch before the interview. The first step towards doing this is fundamental to every aspect of your interview success. Make sure you understand with complete clarity what the employer is looking for. What skills are essential to the role? Which must you be able to demonstrate from past experience? To what extent is the employer expecting to train you and is therefore looking for potential not experience?

Step 2

Once you have got this straight start noting down everything which might be relevant to these requirements. Let your mind range over everything you’ve done which makes you proud and just keep jotting it down.  Talk to people you know you well, friends, family, do they come up with anything you forgot?

Step 3

girl_with_cup150The next stage is to start crossing things out. Go back to what the employer is looking for and be ruthless about anything on your list which does not help to demonstrate your suitability.

You won an academic prize at university in a relevant subject – leave it in.

You won an award at primary school for being the top student – too long ago. Leave it out.

You once rescued a dog from drowning, but you are not applying for a job at an animal rescue centre – leave it out.

And so on, through your complete list.

Step 4

Now all that remains is to put your pitch together and practise it. You know what the employer wants and what you can offer which is relevant to that. You need to get your pitch down to somewhere between sixty and ninety seconds and it should be clear and fluent.

Avoid hyperbole and try recording what you are planning to say. Listen back to it critically, are there lots of “ums and ers”? Are you excessively using the word “like”? Are you repeating yourself? Hesitating? Rushing? Do you sound pompous?

practice makes perfect - a motivational slogan on a green stocky note

Keep practising until you are fluent but make sure that you sound sincere and natural, not stilted and rehearsed. It will be easier to sound natural if you make sure that you make good eye contact and that you are smiling. You may feel comfortable with a light hearted note somewhere in your pitch. It is great if you can let your personality come through. This might be a throwaway comment, “and I make a mean cup of tea!” went down well with one employer I spoke to recently. After all, most employers want to recruit someone who is going to fit into their organisation and their teams.  A well timed witticism can enhance your pitch.

The bottom line then, is that, as ever, preparation in advance is key to getting this right.

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