When it comes to talking about themselves, no one does it better than The Apprentice candidates. As the new series hits our screens, is it time we took a leaf out of their book and told our next job interviewer exactly how great we are?
Overly confident, boastful and arrogant – yes, the new series of The Apprentice is back on our screens and when it comes to talking about their achievements, these young hot shots don’t hold back. The majority of us might find their boasting excruciating to watch, but it certainly gets them noticed. And when it comes to job interviews, getting yourself noticed is key.
There is, of course, a difference between boasting and talking about your achievements in a professional manner, and it’s about finding the right balance. While The Apprentice hopefuls are at one end of the scale, most of us are right at the other end where we find it so painful to talk about our achievements that we often don’t bother. But the bottom line is, to get that job, we need to stop being so modest.
“You need a bit of tough self-love,” says Sarah Cooper, a career and lifestyle coach who runs a career coaching website nomoredreadingmondays.com. “Do you want to be modest in an interview, or do you want to get the job? Make a mental shift and allow yourself to feel proud of your achievements and not apologise for them. Saying to yourself ‘I was really proud to win that award…’ helps you to claim those feelings and feel at ease with your success.”
Of course, it’s all about context and if you can’t talk about your successes in an interview, when can you talk about them? “An interview is a legitimate environment to talk about your achievements because the interviewer wants to hear about these things,” continues Sarah. “If you’re at the bus stop and you start telling the poor old lady next to you how great you are, then that would, of course, be highly inappropriate!”
Although they will have your CV for reference, an important thing to remember is that the interviewer only has the information that you decide to tell them. “It’s easy to forget that the interviewer isn’t inside your head,” says Sarah, “so they only know what you tell them. This requires you to articulate your past experiences. Go from an evidence point of view and give examples. Think about the major strengths or successes you want the interviewer to know about you and bullet point in your mind ways to illustrate them.”
If you struggle to identify your strengths, try asking a friend, a colleague and a family member to tell you what they consider to be your key strengths. These people all see you in different situations – whether in a work meeting or in a social context – which can be reaffirming or can highlight some strengths that you didn’t know you had.
Hearing other people talk about your strengths or successes can somehow make it all more acceptable. Believe what other people tell you and don’t be afraid to reiterate this in your interview. Stay true to yourself and don’t try to be anything you’re not; be secure that what you have is enough – unlike The Apprentice candidates whose boasting often hides the fact that what they are saying is simply fiction!