How to Sell Yourself in an Interview

The Prepped Team

November 16, 2021

6 minutes

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Your perfectly crafted resume and cover letter might help you land the interview, but they’re not a guarantee that you’ll get the job. That’s why selling yourself during the job interview is equally as important. You’ve probably heard the term “sell yourself” before, but what does it actually mean? Let’s break it down.

What does it mean to sell yourself in an interview?

Selling yourself in an interview isn’t an exercise in showboating. It’s the art of conveying why you are qualified for the position. When it comes to selling yourself, you also want the receipts to back it up. This means backing up your success with clear examples. Being able to successfully articulate how and why you’re an excellent candidate is key to landing the job.

How do you sell yourself in a job interview?

Here are five tips to help with the art of selling yourself:

1. Carry yourself with confidence  

Walking into an interview can be a nerve-wracking experience. While we’re not suggesting you waltz into the room like you own it, do enter confidently with a smile on your face. Before entering the room, take some deep breaths to ground yourself. Try box breathing, which is a powerful stress reliever. Confidence also stems from how you dress. Part of selling yourself is making a good first impression. So, choose clothes for your interview that you feel great wearing and fit with the company dress code. If you’re unsure, better to be too dressy rather than too little.

2. Watch your body language

Did you know 55% of how we communicate with others comes from our body language alone? Having mastery over your body language will help you ace the interview. While handshakes seem so 2019, take time to greet and make eye contact with each person when you enter. Be mindful of how you sit. Ideally, you want to be upright in the chair, leaning forward slightly. This indicates you’re interested and engaged in the conversation. Behaviours to curb include avoiding eye contact, slumping in your seat, or fidgeting (it’ll distract the person interviewing you). If fidgeting is a real problem for you, fold your hands together and place them on the table (while leaning forward!) or rest them on your lap. When we’re nervous, it’ll show in our body language. Practice your body language before you step inside an interview room. Ask a trusted friend to roleplay and provide feedback on how you carry yourself.

3. Choose your words carefully  

Once you’ve practiced your body language, the next thing to bring awareness to is your word choices. While suggesting you don’t swear in an interview is a no-brainer, watch for peppering your answers with “um’s,” “ah’s” and “like.” Like, a lot. It’s natural to resort to a drawn-out “um” when we’re asked a question we aren’t sure how to answer. Instead, pause before giving an answer. Our tone is also important. When we’re nervous, our voice tends to waiver, we speak in a higher tone, or more softly. Focus on lowering your tone, moderating the volume, and slowing down your speech, rather than rushing through your answer. This will give time for your words to land with an interviewer. Finally, guard against rambling or going off tangent by choosing one point only when answering a question.

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4. Practice your answers

While we can’t anticipate every question we might be asked, there are some common interview questions you can expect. A typical icebreaker is, “Tell me about yourself.” Sitting in front of a hiring committee isn’t the time to figure out how you’re going to sell yourself. Practice how you’re going to answer ahead of time! Writers will tell you, “Show, don’t tell.” You can employ the same technique in an interview. Rather than saying you’re a team player, show how: “I offered to help my colleagues navigate new project software, as I already had experience using it in a previous job. This helped onboard our entire team within a week.” You want your answers to be specific and measurable. So, if you’ve got stats to back up your achievements, use them.

5. Showcase your strengths  

The interview is your time to shine. Remember, the company is already interested in you – after all, you’ve made it this far. Own your accomplishments, use “I” statements when describing what you’ve achieved. If it’s a team effort, insert yourself: “Together, with my team, I…” Don’t be afraid to let the interviewer know about your talents and specific skills (think soft skills and hard skills). One way to encapsulate this and speak confidently about your skills and future goals is through your elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is exactly what it says on the tin: a way of summing up who you are, what you do, what makes you unique, and what you’re looking for in the time it would take to ride an elevator. If this is a new concept for you or you’re unsure what to include, log in to your Prepped account and take advantage of our elevator pitch generator, located under the networking tab.

Market yourself online

An interview isn’t the only setting where you can market yourself. Professional online networks, such as LinkedIn, are an ideal resource to showcase your talents and skills and sell yourself to potential employers or recruiters. Don’t be afraid to share your successes, interact with people in your community, and participate in discussions relevant to your industry. It shows you’re engaged and confident enough to connect with others. You might also discover how willing others are to help you navigate your job search.  

Tip: Ask your previous employers, volunteer managers, or coworkers to write you a LinkedIn recommendation! It helps recruiters get a sense of who you are as an employee, and act as a reference before getting an interview.

Being prepared is the first step in a successful job search

Your experience is one thing, but being able to successfully sell yourself during an interview and online will increase your likelihood of hearing, “You’re hired!” Sign up for Prepped and to gain access to our ATS resume scanner, AI interview tool and job application resources tools and templates that can help improve your chances of getting a job by up to 6X*.

*Songqi Liu, Jason L. Huang, & Mo Wang (2014). Effectiveness of Job Search Interventions: A Meta-Analytic Review. Psychological Bulletin, 140, 1009-1041.