I once took a friend out to dinner after he had an important job interview. At the table, he looked downward, reflecting on his performance in the interview. “I guess I don’t like to talk about myself much,” he said as if in defeat.
Many people are like my friend, very humble and extremely hard working. Many also share his sentiment of not wanting to brag about themselves in a job interview.
If you can relate, I have news for you and you may not like it: get over it.
The line is very fine between false humility and promoting yourself. Many candidates just don’t “bring it” when they get into an interview situation. This isn’t because they don’t have talent. Quite the contrary- they are great workers but poor self-promoters.
Sadly, those that don't learn how to talk about themselves with confidence will end up disappointed with their own career.
What to do?
If the thought of promoting yourself makes you queasy, you’re not alone. It feels phony to talk about yourself and project past success into the future.
Let me give an example. The person who hates talking about themselves might say this, “I’ve done some fine things in my career. Would it translate to this organization? I’m not sure. You’ll have to decide."
Now watch what we can do with that same response but with more confidence and poise:
“The results of my career speak for themselves. I have total confidence that my skills are portable and would result in great things for your company. You won’t regret giving me a chance.”
What a difference!
Let’s take another example in an interview when someone asks about a person’s areas for improvement (a typical question. The tentative candidate might say this, “Well, I’m not sure. Maybe I could be more assertive or um, I suppose that we all have weaknesses.”
Not very confident.
Now contrast this with a slight change of tone and approach:
“Ah, good question. If I have a weakness it’s that I expect too much of myself. I am driven to achieve excellence and at times that means that I can be impatient until the job gets done. I’m learning to balance my desire for good results with being patient with myself."
Do you notice the difference?
What does it take to modify a lackluster interview response into an interview gem? I believe, and I'm not alone, that it takes confidence in yourself. No, you may not be the next Donald Trump or Elon Musk but who cares? You're you, perfectly how God made you to be. The success you've had is uniquely yours and no one can do what you can do. That's powerful stuff and it's true!
Talking about yourself with confidence is very, very important. It takes practice and then more practice.
Even if you don’t like it, you need to aim high, give yourself a pat on the back and go for it.