Talking about your skills at interview

Put your skills in the spotlightHow and why to frame an answer : talking about your skills at interview

Picture this: You’ve at a job interview and the person across the table asks you to list the top three skills you possess that give you the leading edge. Could you do it? Now imagine that they ask you to give specific examples of those skills in action. This is about the time that many people start to get that deer in the headlights look.

When you’re clear about the unique strengths, skills, and expertise you bring to the table, future employers will be able to see them as well. If you’re not sure, how can you expect others to know?

I was working with a client awhile back who struggled to answer these questions:

  1. What are the top three skills you believe are your ‘best sellers’ in securing your next job?
  2. Once you think of those top three skills, please give me a specific example in your current or previous jobs, of how you best demonstrated those skills.

He struggled for months to answer these questions. When he finally contacted me, this was his reply: I’m a leader, a problem solver and a technical trouble-shooter. No further examples were provided. We spent some time discussing his jobs, his responsibilities and his achievements as we looked for specific examples that would shine a light on his answers. Despite being absolutely certain that these were his top skills, he still couldn’t come up with examples or anecdotes that backed them up. Eventually, he went away to think some more.

Imagine a situation where you are asked to give an example or why you are a great leader, and you reply: “Well I can’t think of any, but I’m really good at it.”

The interviewer is going to see someone who has never given in-depth thought to his career or the value he brings to a company. (And believe me, you’re never going to get several months to think of the perfect answers like I gave my client!)

This is a pretty standard line of questioning that you should be prepared for. Take a moment and put yourself in this position. How much thought have you given to your strengths? Do you know what makes you stand out, what you excel at, and what your outstanding contributions are?

Before you sit down to update your resume, fill out an application or go to your next interview, be sure to take the time to really think about what you do and the value it brings.

Create a list of your very best skills. Then think seriously about how well you use them. How you made a difference. Recall specific anecdotes, projects, or contributions that made a difference to the company. Did you use those skills to resolve a problem? Help someone else? What actions did you take specifically? What was the effect? Did they resolve the problem?

If you’re having trouble composing specific examples that highlight your skills, I suggest using the C.A.R. (Challenge, Action, Result) system. What was the problem (CHALLENGE) you or the company, your division, your team, were having? What contribution or ACTION did you take to resolve it? And finally, how did things improve as a RESULT?

Identify your core strengths, illuminate them with clear examples of how these strengths make a difference, and you’ll be sure to make a positive, memorable impress at your next interview. If you’re still having trouble getting clear on these points or any other issues for updating your resumes or interviewing, click on the Contact Us link and we’ll help you out.

2 Comments

  1. Candace Alstad Davies

    Love your post Gayle. When I coach my clients on interviewing I ask for five strengths and an example to back it up… then there is silence on the phone. People just don’t think about this kind of thing and then panic when forced to answer in an interview. Failing to prepare is like preparing to fail. Have a Wonderful Wednesday on your side of the world. 🙂

    Reply
    • Gayle Howard

      Thanks so much for lending your experience and knowledge Candace! People give so much thought to so many things—-but enough about getting through the interview!

      Reply

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About Gayle Howard

If you are interested in working with Gayle Howard—an executive resume writer, Certified Master Resume Writer, multi-award-winning resume writer, and Master LinkedIn profile writer, drop her a line now using the contact form at the link above. Gayle can help you get interviews for your dream job and bring the world of business to you by maximizing your exposure and connections on LinkedIn.