We’ve all been there. About to walk into an interview, sweaty palms, thinking “I hope I don’t screw this up!” You have three printed copies of your resume (by the way…this is interview etiquette we should all practice!) and the conversation begins. Then, the interviewer asks the question: What are your strengths? You go absolutely blank!
Except for that time you finished four seasons of House of Cards in 3 days…BIG win!
This is a question all young, professional women should have a prepared answer for. While you may think it’s awkward to talk about yourself, or toot your own horn without sounding overconfident, I say, TOOT… TOOT! Employers want to know the value you will bring to their team. They need to know that you will add to their company culture in a meaningful way. Having a solid answer prepared for this question will demonstrate your ability to articulate your thoughts, and show that you are confident in your ability to succeed in any important role you possess.
My trick? Use that resume copy you brought to the interview as a guide. Here’s how to think this through:
The purpose of an interview is to see how the skills and content on your resume are supported in person. So let’s get your resume talking for itself. The most common theme I see in my resume consultations with clients is that they have trouble describing how they want to be portrayed. I always begin by asking:
“What points of value, or key qualifiers, do you want a potential employer to know about you immediately?” The all too common answer?
“Umm, I’m not too sure.”
Here’s the honest truth:
If you can’t think of any strengths you’re proud of, your resume won’t convey it either.
Know this secret: You are good at SOMETHING! We don’t make it to age 25 without mastering some personal trait or succeeding in some type of task.
Allocate some time to sit down and think about how you want to present yourself- what is your brand? Your strengths can be anything! Are you creative? Do you comprehend numbers and excel sheets better than the average Joe? Can you navigate through social media efficiently? These qualities all serve as value to an employee and, therefore, should be written on your resume and mentioned in your interview.
Now, back to the TRICK! When I am asked to revamp a client’s resume, I start by narrowing down on five key strengths specific to my client, then use the resume content to support them. This can be done by:
- A strong profile header or statement
- A “Core Competencies” section listing strengths
- Job History details- I.e. positive feedback from your managers, promotions, awards, being asked to train other employees, etc.
Now, flash-forward to present day in the interview room. The interviewer asks about your strengths. You know that your newly modified resume supports any answer you give. So you confidently say, “I am knowledgeable about many social media outlets and how to navigate them efficiently. In fact, I took initiative to create an online marketing presence for my “Campus Ambassador’s Club” at my college. I continuously advertised our events on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and it resulted in big attendance numbers for our campaign rallies.”
What the employer hears is that you understand modern day marketing strategies and can be a valuable (there’s that word again!) resource to grow their business. A similar approach can be adopted for other strengths you inherit. I say, define your strengths, then mold your resume around the supporting evidence. The result will be a well written resume and a winning answer to a seemingly difficult interview question that will be sure to impress your audience.
Article contributed by Lauren Hamer:
As a “Young Professional” herself, Lauren Hamer was tired of the frustrated and forgotten feelings that are all too common during the job search- so, she decided to make her own luck. Lauren is the Founder and CEO of LaunchPoint Resume, a company that creates custom resume designs and provides expert content support to ensure her clients stay competitive in the job market. She is now using her background in marketing and motivational psychology to help job seekers amplify their personal brand. www.launchpointresume.com