Do you think selling yourself in an interview feels sleazy and uncomfortable? Or like you’re forcing someone’s hand?
I’m here to tell you it is none of those!
So what is it?
What is it NOT?
And how do you do it in a non-sleazy way?
If you just asked any of those questions, then keep reading friends! Because we’re about to dive in.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO SELL YOURSELF IN AN INTERVIEW?
First, let’s talk about what selling is NOT.
We feel like selling ourselves is being pushy, sleazy, and gross. It can feel like exposing yourself in a really uncomfortable way. We also think it is a way of spamming people. We worry it doesn’t feel like being authentic or genuine, just gross. A lot of us feel like if we are selling ourselves, we’re forcing someone to do what they don’t want to do.
NONE OF THIS IS TRUE!
Reality is: most of us don’t want to sell ourselves. BUT! The reality also is, we’re being sold to all day long and we’re selling all day long.
For example…does anyone else find themselves at the grocery trying to sell their friends or significant other on buying frozen pizza?! Anyone else? Just me?
Selling is simply this: having opinions and expressing them. It’s a normal part of life. It does not have to be crazy awkward or uncomfortable!
To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink is a book I highly recommend about selling. It reframed my thoughts on selling. What if we replace the word selling with serving?
“Finally, at every opportunity you have to move someone—from traditional sales, like convincing a prospect to buy a new computer system, to non-sales selling, like persuading your daughter to do her homework—be sure you can answer the two questions at the core of genuine service. If the person you’re selling to agrees to buy, will his or her life improve? When your interaction is over, will the world be a better place than when you began? If the answer to either of these questions is no, you’re doing something wrong.”Daniel Pink
In an interview context — the goal is to get a job.
Do you believe that if the interviewer hires you (“agrees to buy”), their life will improve?
Will their company be better off?
And when you leave, will the organization (and maybe the world) be better than when you began?
You may be thinking you don’t have much to offer, and that’s a mindset issue. If your mindset isn’t right around this, go listen to this podcast episode. You need to remember this: you are an asset! You are providing value to a company.
Selling is NOT being pushy, sleazy, spamming people, or making someone do what they don’t want to do. Selling IS authentically showing up and serving.
WHY SELLING YOURSELF IS IMPORTANT IN AN INTERVIEW
A lot of us have this idea that if we’re good enough, we shouldn’t have to sell ourselves. A bit of the “build it and they will come” idea in the back of our minds.
Who told us this?!
We cannot just assume this, and it’s a lie! It leads us to believe the lie “If I’m not getting XYZ, it must be because I’m not good enough.” NO!
You have to sell yourself to grow and make your way up the ladder or into the job you want. You cannot just expect people to get it. You have to explicitly connect the dots for an interviewer to help them know where you provide value. Simplify it for them.
Remember when you’re doing this: no one taught you how to do this! Your university usually has not equipped you. It’s why people like me exist — to teach you and help you. Have grace with yourself if you’re not good at this at first — it takes practice! You’ve never been taught and it takes time. You will feel friction coming up. Lean in, don’t shame yourself.
Selling yourself in an interview allows you to pitch yourself. It gives you space to present your accomplishments in a matter of fact way and pitch what you have to offer. Just like going to pitch a project, but you are the asset you’re pitching.
An interview is a pitch for yourself. You are the asset!
As an asset, are you making a company money, saving them money, or making their life easier? It’s one of these three or sometimes a mix. Write it down.
In an interview you’re selling yourself by presenting your accomplishments and proving your worth through the things you’ve done before. And bonus: it helps build your confidence!
When you sell yourself, talk about how you provide value in a matter of fact and humble way, and present your value proposition — you build your confidence! You will believe in the value you have to give to the world.
Bottom line, when prepping for an interview, I want you to understand:
- What value do I have to bring to this company?
- How am I going to make them more money?
- How am I going to make their life easier?
- How have I done it in the past to prove I can do it for them too?
The biggest issue I see when people go into an interview — besides lack of confidence which should be continually developed! — is they don’t think about what’s in it for the employers, only about what’s in it for them! When companies ask “Why do you want to move here?” they’re really asking “What’s in it for us if you come work for us?”
Listen to this podcast episode for my example script of how to answer! You have to tell them what’s in it for them.
“To sell well is to convince someone else to part with resources. Not to deprive that person, but to leave him or her better off in the end.”Daniel Pink
If you aren’t selling yourself, you’re selling yourself short. If you don’t sell, someone else will make assumptions about you. Maybe they come to conclusions you want them to, but likely they will come to conclusions you don’t want them to.
If you aren’t selling yourself and connecting the dots for them, you’re selling yourself short.
Ultimately, when you sell yourself in an interview, you have the ability to negotiate more.
When you serve them by showing the value you’re going to be able to produce and how that’s invaluable to them, that then allows you to negotiate more upfront and for the long term.
✔ communicate the value you bring
✔ present what you’ve accomplished well
✔ frame these things to communicate how you are going to serve the company (make them money, make their life easier, save them money)
…you help them understand the value you bring and you are able to negotiate more!
So then you get paid what you’re worth!
HOW TO DO IT IN A NON SLEAZY WAY
First and foremost, you need to believe that you have a right to be there, to share your story, and to be in the room where it happens. Many of us say we believe this, but we aren’t trying to innately move that belief forward.
There is a life coach principle that your beliefs inform your thoughts, which inform your feelings, which inform your actions, which inform your results (adapted from The Life Coach School).
If we aren’t getting the results we want, we need to back up and examine our beliefs first. Then we can enter an interview with our hands open, confident and humble.
Ways to do this:
- Believe you have value to bring and a right to be there
- Tell a Story
- Look the Part
- Understand Your Audience
- Know your Value Proposition Statement
- Don’t be Verbose
HOW TO SELL YOURSELF FINAL THOUGHTS
Remember: to sell yourself in an interview is not sleazy. Replace the word “sell” with “serve” and it becomes much easier to present yourself in an interview because you are serving, sharing your knowledge, and sharing your belief that you can bring immense value to this company.
You need to get your mindset right on the value you bring and practice how to sell yourself. You need to get good at doing this well by practicing! And make sure you use the tips on how to do this in a non-sleazy way. This will help you with negotiations, promotions, and transitions.
You can sell yourself in an interview authentically, serve well, and do so in a way that makes a huge difference throughout your life!
Tell me on LinkedIn about your biggest takeaway! What are you going to take and implement?