Showcasing your skills

Susan Frankel
What you say about yourself in a job interview will be listened to very carefully by the person interviewing you. The interviewer will ask a few key questions and your answers must refer back to tasks you have done well on a previous job. The prospective employer will assess such things as competence and attitude from what you say about yourself and your skills.
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Susan Frankel on 25/07/2013
An abstract painting representing the quest to find employment

Before your interview research the organisation.

There are three key questions that will be asked at your interview. You can expect to be asked about yourself, what you do well and where you don't do so well. Your answers must draw on previous experience in a job or tasks. Your replies must also relate to the tasks you have performed well. A willingness to learn is also valued by an employer. Don't go on and on, but answer questions clearly.

Tim (not his real name) gets lots of questions about the interview process. He says, ...the interviewer or panel interviewing you for the job you are going for will ask four or five questions only.

He also says answers given must specifically draw on the job seeker's previous job experience and be about tasks and skills.

The interviewer will be listening to hear how well you believed you did the job and the tasks, Tim says.

Tell us a bit about yourself

The first question, Tell us a bit about yourself is where the interviewee has to be focused. Tim says, It is absolutely crucial for you, the person being interviewed for a particular job, to talk about your strengths in line with the job you want to get. For example, if you were going for a job in general maintenance, talk about your general skills with hand tools power tools, know-how to repair gates, fences. Tim says to even talk about the basic skills you have which could be used on the job. According to the jobs trainer, if you have skills in an area, for example, maintenance for apartments, you can talk about preparing halls for painting, maintenance when it comes to mouldy bathrooms. Tim points out, if you have the skills sets, describe them. If they are shallow, indicate your willingness to learn!

For example if you are being interviewed by a firm that wants to fill one or few roles, from clerical to sorting and packing: There could be a number of jobs going in the organisation or a role were you need to tell them about a range of skills you have. So you present yourself to show you can multi-task and are adaptable. If you give instances where you have performed a number of such tasks on the job, show them how adaptable you are and that you are comfortable going from one task to another.

What are your strengths?

Tim says when it comes to highlighting what you're best at, Mention two strengths. Two of the main key strengths for example, at a mail sorting house (Australia Post) are my time management skills, being organized and staying focused.

He says the second strength could be you are very good working in a team environment. Say to the interviewer, I communicate well within a team environment and have a keen eye for quality processes to ensure the right letters go into the right bag. 

What are your weaknesses?

Only mention one! Here the trainer points out to be clear about what you can do and what you are not so good at. Don't mention a weakness that you've mentioned as a strength! If you delay in responding to emails, for example, work on that problem at home by doing a set number in the morning and afternoon. Then you can tell them how you are overcoming a weakness. And if your weakness is numeracy? Draw a breath and tell them how you are working to correct it. Tim says turning a negative question into a positive response is important.  For example, spelling. You can train yourself through spell check and the fact that you are working on this yourself shows you are self-reflecting and self-motivating.

Using your initiative

Lastly, if you have initiative, you might like to tell a prospective employer about it. Choose helpful, positive examples only, that highlight your willingness to work with others in coming up with solutions. And as a team player you might like to say you work within the boundaries of the team and share your thoughts and processes. That includes being able to accept positive and negative feedback.

As with all interviews Tim says you need to be able to put yourself in the employer's shoes and understand how they are interpreting your answers and actions in a job you are talking about having performed.

But, Tim warns, Before any job interview, research the organisation and find out all about them. As always, preparation is the key to your success.

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