Leveraging Your Experience
Your resume should give prospective employers a good idea of your skills and experience – but it’s not enough to ace a job interview. To break away from the competition, you need to use your experience as a key differentiator.
In Your Introduction most interviewers will ask you to introduce yourself at the beginning of the interview. This is an opportunity to summarize your experience in a way that highlights your key skills, credentials, background, and style. Keep it short and make it interesting. A good introduction should:
- Engage the interviewer: Make it clear that you’re an interesting candidate who will bring unique skills to the organization.
- Lead to questions: Make the interviewer curious enough to ask more questions about your background.
- Guide the flow: Take control of the interview process, giving you the opportunity to highlight your most favorable qualities.
Pick Out Top Experiences and Achievements
Use your resume as a guide to develop a list of specific experiences and accomplishments you have had throughout your career that make you stand out from the competition. Look at each of your past employment and educational experiences. Try to think of several examples of problems you faced and how you used your strengths to solve them.
Examine all aspects of the situation. One way to do this is to lay out your experiences in the STAR format, which stands for Situation, Task, Action, Response. In other words:
- What were you doing?
- What were you asked to do?
- What did you do?
- What effect did your actions have?
It may be helpful to create a worksheet for yourself to follow as you are developing your stories. Be as specific as possible. If you have many years of experience, try to pull solid examples from different situations to show the breadth and depth of your skills and background.
In addition to showing how well you have solved various problems in the past, try to highlight some of your credentials, such as:
- Successful projects you have completed
- Significant milestones you may have achieved throughout your career
Plus, be prepared to discuss any educational accomplishments or specializations you have that pertain to the job.
Keep It Positive
You always want to present your experiences in a positive tone. Although some of the examples you use may pertain to a negative situation that you encountered, try not to dwell on that. Keep your stories upbeat and focus on your strengths and approach to remedying a tough situation. Highlight the positive of the situation and steer away from spending too much time on the negative.
Emphasize Your Passion
Show that you are passionate about what you do. Convey confidence in your work without sounding cocky. As you are sharing the stories of your experience, bring them to life by exuding positive energy and a sense of pride in your work.
Preparation is Key
It all comes down to being prepared. Take the time before your interview to plan the perfect introduction and gather solid examples to share. Practice makes perfect; set up a mock interview with a friend or family member to help ensure you are ready to go on interview day.
Accommodate Virtual Interviews
Many if not all interviews today are held over Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, or similar. Prepare for these the way you would prepare for a regular interview, with a few exceptions. Make sure that the space behind your camera is clean and neat and ensure that your speakers and microphone are working before the interview. I would also recommend you wear business attire even for a virtual interview because how you dress often affects how you come across on camera.
One major upside of the virtual interview: You can write your answers to any potentially tricky questions in a Word document, allowing you to respond later in the interview without stumbling.
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