How to sell yourself in an interview

7 min read | Thea Watson, Marketing Director of Hays UK & I and UK Board member | Article | | Interview advice

Man smiling at person across desk from him in work space

One of the best job interview techniques is to simply be yourself. But what does this mean in principle? Discover how authenticity will help you stand out from the crowd.

We’re constantly told to “be ourselves” in new situations, whether it’s when making new friends or starting university. But how does this translate into job interview techniques?

It’s normal to create an “interview persona” of sorts when you’re interviewing – a different version of yourself which would be unrecognisable to the people who know you best. Perhaps you used clichéd expressions which you would never usually say in day to day life, or tried to hide your outgoing and talkative or conversely introverted and reflective personality. 

But the interviewer needs to know the real you if you’re going to be a fit at their company. In this blog, we’ll look at how to be authentic in a job interview, including:

  • Building a rapport with the interviewer
  • Adapting your answers with real-life context
  • How to handle yourself when nerves get the better of you.


Showing off the real you with good interview techniques

Unsurprisingly, studies have shown that if a new hire is a poor cultural fit, they will most likely struggle with their workplace wellbeing. This is often a main reason that they choose to leave an organisation.

Think of the company culture as being the personality of the company. You wouldn’t choose to spend a large portion of your time with a personality that you clashed with, so why would you risk working for a company that is the wrong cultural fit for you?

Don’t try to be somebody you’re not. Instead, channel your energy into showing off your strengths and skills, while gauging whether this opportunity is right for you.

Now we can move on to how to sell yourself in an interview.

Build a rapport with the interviewer

One of the best job interview techniques you can practise is to build a rapport with the interviewer. If you can do this, you’ll instantly feel more confident about being yourself.

Remember that your interviewer is just another human being, and they have been in your seat before. Likewise, remember that any intimidation you’re feeling is mostly fear of the unknown. Try to get an idea of the interviewer beforehand by asking your recruiter about their professional background, or looking up their LinkedIn profile.

Greet your interviewer with a genuine smile and open body language. Start the conversation with simple small talk, and try to keep the dialogue two-way throughout. Give clear and detailed answers, but make sure you listen to the interviewer when they speak.

At the end, ask them professional questions about their career, and their favourite aspects of working for this company. If you can shift some of the “spotlight” onto the interviewer, it will help you feel less nervous. Plus, it’s a great way of showcasing your relationship-building skills. 

Pick the right words to describe yourself in an interview

You will probably hear a few common interview questions such as, “how would your friends describe you?”. Adapt your answers rather than saying something generic like the fact you’re a team player. Consider: “They would say I have a positive attitude, especially in the face of challenges. I don’t like complaining, and I prefer to focus on solutions to problems.”

Elaborate on your answers where possible. Show examples of your personality traits in action. These stories will show how you react in certain situations, demonstrating the type of person you are.

Channel your best traits into skills for the job

While you shouldn’t let your guard down completely and be overly familiar, you can channel some of your most suitable personality traits into your performance. Start by identifying which of your personal attributes would be beneficial to the role.

Revisit your research about this opportunity, particularly any information you have on the required skills for the job, plus the company culture and values. Where might your personality traits overlap with what the hiring manager is looking for? For example, you might be applying for a job where strong interpersonal skills are a must. If you have always found yourself to be a great listener, you can build up trusting relationships with people.

Keep control of your nerves with positive thinking

Lastly, take steps to relax yourself and get into a positive mentality before the interview. If not, you may find yourself overcome with negative thoughts and interview nerves, which can get in the way of you being yourself. 

Speak with your recruiter beforehand, and they can reassure you that there is nothing to be nervous about. Give yourself a pep-talk, reminding yourself of all your best personality traits, and solidifying this image of yourself in your mind.


Job interview coming up? Make it a success with our interview guides: 

  • What to expect from your first ever job interview
  • 4 questions to ask yourself after your job interview
  • Introverts: Here’s how to shine in your interview
  • 4 things you will need to prove when interviewing at an SME

About this author

About Thea Watson

Thea is responsible for the UK & I marketing team as well as driving the strategic direction of the marketing function, looking closely at opportunities for growth, positioning in the marketplace and sales support. She was appointed to the Hays UK & I Board in July 2017, following joining the UK business in the summer of 2016.

Prior to her current role she was the Vice President of Marketing for the Hays Americas business, joining the business in 2012. Under her management she built the marketing function from general support to a strategic driver of sales, establishing a central marketing unit supporting Canada, US and four Latin American countries.

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