The first question that most potential employers will ask is, “So tell me about yourself.” When I practice this interview question with my clients, they tend to share their employment history or personal story. The flaws in these responses are that most employers don’t want you to repeat your resume or know your personal story, they want to understand your strengths and the highlights of your accomplishments. They also want to hire a confident, competent candidate, who will get the job done and bring value to their company.
As a career coach, one of my goals is to help job candidates explore their history, highlight their strengths and accomplishments, and be able to articulate them with confidence to any potential employer.
The purpose of this article is to share five ways to discover your strengths and accomplishments in order to differentiate yourself from other candidates during a job interview:
- Feedback from Others:
Did a coworker ever share something like, “You always bring the team together during times of chaos.”? Perhaps you have a talent for keeping balance among your team of coworkers during difficult transitions. Let’s say you ran into your teacher at the supermarket and she said, “You were such a wonderful creative writer. I would always be excited to go home and read your stories because they would get me thinking.” Perhaps your gift of storytelling helps others contemplate and process.
Reflecting back on anecdotes and asking others for feedback will help you recognize your talents.
Some questions you might ask are: “What do I do well?”, “What were my biggest strengths when working in this position?”, “What did you perceive to be my biggest accomplishments?”, “What is the biggest compliment you can give me based on my job performance?”
- Reflect on Your Impact:
Everyone has made a difference somehow. It could have been a conversation that inspired a friend to make a change; a beautiful painting you hung at a coffee shop and someone smiled when they stood in front of it; a small change that you suggested for customer service protocol that positively impacted sales in your department.
Reflecting on your impact, no matter how big or small, can provide so much insight to how you’ve made a difference. It also indicates your potential and the difference you can make in your future.
- Evaluate the footprint you want to leave behind?
If you were going to leave this earth, how do you want others to remember you? Did you change something for the positive? Did you raise a beautiful healthy family? Did you makes others smile and laugh?
Think about the impact you want to make on the future. Whether it be for work, school, or the people who surround you… there is always a way you can leave a small legacy.
- Write it down!
Start journaling your discoveries and look for trends. You will be amazed at how empowering it is to hear others speak positively about you and to confirm this by writing it down.
- Now share it!
We are often taught not to brag. Sharing your strengths with others, a story where you’ve made a positive change, or your future goals, is not bragging or conceited. These stories are what make you unique and are inspiring to others. Especially if they are shared with positive intention.
For example, one of my clients with an extensive background in marketing and public relations, has been interviewing for a job.
We were practicing the interview question, “So tell me about yourself.” Her immediate reaction was to share her career history. She quickly became frustrated because her response was long winded, so she asked to start over. I answered, “I can read your job history in your resume. Let’s try something else. I want to know what makes you awesome at your job.”
I asked her the question again and she responded, “I’m a ninja at fixing a company’s marketing strategy. I have a background in guiding companies who struggle with their marketing, finding out what makes them unique, and coordinating their marketing efforts to help them stand out from their competition.”
Next time you’re asked a question about yourself during an interview, don’t be shy about communicating your impact. You’re awesome! Now share it.