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Tell them what they want to hear

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

Resume and HR hiring language is quite different to how most of us talk in the real world. How you actually describe your skills compared to how the job description describes skills is probably miles apart.

But in order to sell yourself well in a job interview, you need to talk up your skills!

However you might find that stating in a job interview that you are a strategic leader or have great stakeholder engagement skills can feel a bit... icky.

You need to work out what your skills are, then work out a way that feels natural for you to describe them, while still incorporating some of their language.

So here are my tips on how to confidently articulate your key skills or strengths at a job interview (or anywhere really!).

1: Work out what your top skills are!

Do some self-reflection and identify your key skills and strengths. This could involve thinking about past experiences where you have excelled or received positive feedback, as well as considering what you enjoy doing and what comes naturally to you.

For a job interview, it's best to come up with your top 3 strengths (or unique selling points).

For example these might be 1. Team leadership; 2. Project delivery; and 3. Stakeholder relationships.

2: Practice describing them.

Once you know what your top skills are, work out a way to describe them in a job interview that feels comfortable for you. Start out by saying something like:

"There are 3 main things that I think I would bring to the role."

Then talk about each of your skills, describing what you are good at and the approach you take. It might look something like this:

"The first one is my people leadership skills. I'm really good at creating an engaged team culture. I do this through.... (describe your leadership style)."

"The second thing I bring to the role is my strong project management skills. I'm good at leading projects in a really strategic manner, but making sure everyone is brought on the journey so that they are implemented within budget and deadline."

"The final area that makes me a great fit is my stakeholder engagement skills. I'm a people person who..."

I recommend practicing by yourself (record yourself on your computer) and with a friend or family member. This will help you to identify any parts that you are struggling to articulate. You can then work out a better way to say it, then practice again!

It's important to practice so that your sales spiel to sound natural.

3: Add specific examples.

For each of the skill areas that you excel in, you could add in an example or thing you are most proud of relating to that skill, to add colour and interest - and again to help your pitch sound more natural.

4: Be authentic. 

Don't stress if you aren't using the correct jargon. Being yourself and telling an interesting story is more important than using resume/HR speak. However, do try to use their language when you first decribe each of the skills that you bring.

Need extra help with Job Interviews? Check out my new Job Interview Confidence online program!
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