Nail Your Next Job Interview By Showcasing Your Unique Value
I get frustrated and sad when I see highly qualified people unable to sell themselves in a job interview– particularly when they seem to be so qualified. It happened again, perhaps you know someone who can benefit from this story and the actions that followed.
Meet Me in St. Louis
The sweet woman next to me on the flight from Denver to St. Louis shared her story about her frustrating series of job interviews.
She had a masters in education and yet kept piecing together teaching assistant jobs to make ends meet for her and her 7-year-old son. This meant no benefits and often waitressing on the side. She couldn’t seem to get hired in a permanent gig. “I just don’t seem to be what they’re looking for.” She had a job interview that afternoon for a “real” teaching job. Game on.
When I asked her about what “they were looking for” in previous interviews, the conversation led to rubrics and curriculum and other teacher-y words. Her lack of experience drained the confidence from her explanation. “I keep trying to figure out what they want, and I think that makes my answers fuzzy.”
So we had a quick impromptu coaching session over a couple of cranapple juices and a bag of snack mix.
Why are you passionate about education? What makes you unique as a teacher?
Seat 14 B suddenly radiated new energy. She told me stories of raising her son bi-lingual and how she incorporates that into the classroom. How she’s an artist and how she combines art history with reading and writing in interactive field trips in the park. She shared her proactive efforts to learn at conferences and share with her peers.
And so, I asked the obvious question. Have you ever shared any of that in a job interview?
She stopped. “No.”
They Don’t Know They’re Looking For You
In an effort to be what “they” want in a job interview, she was masking her gifts. They can’t possibly think they are looking for a bi-lingual artist, with a master’s in teaching, and a passion for making reading fun. It doesn’t mean they won’t jump when they see that. I would want my first grader in her class.
The flight was ending so we outlined an approach for her next job interview.
- Identify the 3 gifts that differentiated her as a teacher (Art, Languages later I found she knows more than 2) and Teaching Reading.
- Practice the starting statement here’s what I’m about (she needed an elevator speech)
- Prepare examples that highlight her 3 gifts (specifics, with outcomes and results)
- Anticipate the tough questions, and weave in her gifts
- End with confidence (and avoid self-sabotaging words)