How to talk about yourself in interviews without the #humblebrag
What’s your favourite thing about yourself?
Yeah… I find that hard to answer too. Not because I don’t believe I have good qualities – or feel that I’m not a good friend, employee, family member – but because it’s really hard to talk openly about our successes and positive qualities.
If there’s one place where it’s important to talk yourself up, though, it’s job interviews. If you’ve ever felt awkward or braggy in an interview, you’re not alone. But there are a couple of tools you can keep in your job search toolkit to provide a bit of structure to this tricky part of landing a dream job.
Here’s how to talk about yourself in an interview, without relying on the #humblebrag.
It feels uncomfortable to talk about yourself in interviews because, simple as it is, we’re told not to toot our own horns in normal conversations.
Here’s the secret to the job interview, though: it’s really not a normal conversation. It’s pretty much the opposite of a normal conversation.
The purpose of job interviews is to give your potential future employer all the information they need to decide whether you’re the right fit for the role. Sharing success stories, accomplishments and learnings isn’t bragging from the perspective of a hirer, but rather an important information-gathering exercise.
Providing proof of what makes you suited for the advertised role is the key to landing a position. So, make sure you have some examples ready to go, and ensure you’re able to communicate them effectively before the interview.
Remember, these success stories are going to be what makes you stand out! Own them.
Honesty over humble brag, every time
By now, most of us know that questions like “What is your greatest weakness?” are old favourites of the interviewer. They’re also the bane of every interviewee’s existence.
Your first instinct in answering questions like this might be to give an easy answer. Maybe something like, “I am too dedicated to my career” or “I’m a huge perfectionist”. Unfortunately, these answers just don’t cut it anymore. Employers can see through answers like these and recognise them for what they are: blatant humble brags.
Instead, go for the old adage: honesty is the best policy! Have a positive outlook and mindset, sure, but make sure you are honest and transparent about yourself and your skills. Again, it’s not bragging, it’s just the truth!
For the previous example, a more honest answer about your weakness could be something like organisation, certain programs, or delegation. Then, all you have to do is talk about what you’re doing to work on these weaknesses. Easy peasy, and even better: honest.
Take the pressure off with a structure
As we said earlier, talking about yourself doesn’t come naturally to many of us. Having a structure or format for answering questions for the interview will probably take the edge off your nerves.
When it comes to behavioural questions (like the dreaded “Tell us about yourself”) the SPARK method is our favourite.
STAR stands for:
Next time you’re asked about your wins, and feel that icky feeling that makes you think you’re bragging, turn instead to STAR.
In my last role as a paralegal, I was given the opportunity to convert existing documents into an online management system.
There were over 20 years of documents that needed converting, and a very tight deadline.
I took the responsibility of leading the project, managing a team of five interns to tackle the problem. I spearheaded research into different management systems, and undertook interviews with leading solicitors to match and exceed best practice.
I then created a comprehensive instructional document and ran workshops with legal and administrative staff to introduce them to the new system.
The opportunity ended up being a great success. My team converted the documents well ahead of schedule, and the rest of the professional staff felt confident using the new system.
See? Talking about your successes is easy with a structure like this!
Don’t be afraid to talk about yourself in interviews – that’s exactly what everyone is there for! If you need more help preparing for your next career step (and the dreaded job interview that goes along with it) we’ve got a bunch of resources available to help.
No need for the #humblebrag, let yourself shine for who you are.
Featured image courtesy of Pexels
Lily Cameron is a writer and editor based in Sydney. She is a UTS Communications (Creative Writing) graduate, and current Communications Assistant at UTS Careers. She is passionate about telling stories, both hers and others’, and the way digital and social media is changing the literary landscape. Her writing has appeared in Voiceworks, The Brag, and elsewhere.