Interview Advice: Spin Yourself

Part of the interview advice collection of articles.

We spin ourselves all the time-to find a date or a mate, to make a good impression on our elders, to join a club or society. Spinning merely involves presenting those aspects of ourselves that are likely to be appealing to others. It is not enough to come off this way or that way. You take control of the message you convey to the interviewer. The clearer the spin, the sharper is the appeal.

All you must do, then, is figure out how to use your self-knowledge and company knowledge to market yourself. Skip the tag line, but do formulate a coherent message about yourself. This is the message that you want to reemphasize throughout the interview as you answer a variety of questions. Using the information that you gathered from the exercises in Know Yourself, make a list of your transferable skills, your inherent qualities, and your personality traits that would be relevant to this job.

Brainstorm what you offer the position

Suzanne’s list follows.

Experience-based Skills Transferable Skills Personal Qualities
HTML CodingProject ManagementDependable
Vendor RelationsClear CommunicationAccessible
Client RelationsWritingFocused
Product DevelopmentOrganizationFlexible
Quality Assurance PracticesTeam LeadershipInitiative
Web WritingNegotiationCreative
 Problem-solvingFast Learner

Take a careful look at your list to determine which of the skills and qualities seem most relevant to the position you are seeking. For the consultant position that Suzanne is seeking, client relations and quality assurance practices seem most relevant from the experience-based skills category. Each of the skill from the transferable skills category is relevant, so she chooses to emphasize negotiation, problem-solving, project management, and writing. She anticipates that the personal qualities required for this position include creativity, dependability, initiative, and flexibility.

Generate concise anecdotes

Once you have created a short-list of skills and qualities that you offer the company, compile a set of stories and facts that illustrate your unique abilities. When doing so, remember a few guidelines:

  • Your goal is to convince the interviewer that you are right for the job.
  • Be specific.
  • Highlight information readily understood as transferable.
  • Accentuate accomplishments.
  • Connect your past experience to the position you seek.
  • Reveal your values.
  • Remember your audience and their values.
  • Keep your presentation under two minutes.

Identify your basic message

With her skill profile, knowledge of the employer and job, and these guidelines in mind, Suzanne might develop an overall interview message like the following.

“I will bring to this consultancy position a combination of skills and qualities that I am confident would make me a valuable contributor to the company. In my previous position as a Project Manager, I spearheaded the development of multi-media projects that exceeded the expectations of our clients. I could not succeed without my teams. Although my teams and I faced multiple obstacles, I used my problem-solving skills and judgment to overcome barriers in a way that satisfied the interests of our clients, my company, and my teams. I was able to gain the trust and confidence of the team members. My communication and negotiation skills enabled me to lead frazzled and sometimes antagonistic teams of people to work together in a focused and productive way. Since this pressure-cooker experience, I have gained licensure as a court mediator, and I have a master’s degree in conflict resolution.

“In addition to my ability to mobilize teams by overcoming conflict and confusion, my company made use of my organizational skills and my self-initiative. I was able to work with a minimum of supervision, but consulted the company directors when I needed their input, guidance, or support. Since I was responsible for creating the concepts and content of the projects that I managed, my self-direction enabled me to balance multiple responsibilities while still carving out time to generate winning ideas and write content.”

Identify the bottom line

Knowing that she wants to communicate her basic message throughout the interview, Suzanne then clarifies the core of what she has to offer:

“I offer your company and this position effective negotiation and communication abilities, creative problem solving and project management skills, inner drive and initiative, and strong writing skills. My colleagues here would find me dependable and flexible.”

Continue to the ‘Know the Employer’ article

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