Job Interview Tips: Focus On What You Bring To the Table

When going to a job interview, keep these job interview tips in mind: always remember to stay focused on what you bring to the table. Do not, under any circumstances, focus on the aspects of the job description that you don't bring to the table. And definitely don't start the discussion at the interview by talking about what you don't know how to do.

Believe In Yourself

Remember that when you're going to a job interview, the interviewers have a need for someone to fill a certain role at their business that was defined in the job description. You have a certain skill set and talent set that you take with you wherever you go. It comes from your education, your previous work experience and your natural gift. You should believe in yourself and be confident in those skills. After all, the interviewers chose you and invited you in for the interview. Whether it's from your resume or from people who told them something about you, they decided to give you a shot. That shot is the chance to tell them how you bring to the table what they need. This is all about their needs. Since you want them to want you, you need to stay focused on your strengths and how you deliver what they need.

If you're on a first date, you're not going to start the night by talking about your weaknesses! You're not going to mention that sometimes you have bad breath or b.o. or anything like that. After all, you want the person you're out with to be interested in you. Same thing goes for a job interview. Focus on what you can deliver that will meet their needs.

What You Don't Know How To Do Might Not Be An Issue

There are a few reasons you don't want to focus on the things you don't bring to the table. The most obvious is that you will only be hired for the things that you do bring to the table, so everything else is just a negative distraction. Also, the employer might have decided before you walked in for the interview that they don't actually need the role you're interviewing for to perform the things you don't know how to do. Or they might meet 10 candidates through the interview process who are all weak in the same area - so the employer may decide to assign that part of the job to another employee or put all of you on an even playing field for equal consideration. It's also possible that the employer will like you so much in the interview that they're willing to overlook what you don't know how to do.

Be Honest

The employer might bring up what you don't bring to the table by saying, "I see you don't have these skills from our job description listed in your resume." Just like you were honest about what you bring to the table, now is the time to be honest about what you don't. Lying, misrepresenting, or fluffing up what you don't have may get you the job, but you'll probably end up fired when it's clear that you can't deliver the goods. Keep your confidence and composure and try to minimize your weakness. Let's say that you don't have experience using a computer program like Powerpoint or Salesforce. You can find a way to learn the basics before Day 1 of the job and promise at the interview that you'll do exactly that. Then immediately return to focusing on your strengths and what you do bring to the table, since that's what will get you hired.

When confronted with this exact situation, I once said to an interviewer, "If you're looking for someone who is great at X, Y and Z, then I'm your guy. But if you're looking for someone with tons of contacts in your industry, then I'm not your guy." The reply was, "We want X, Y and Z. We can provide the contacts." I said, "Then I'm your guy." I was offered the job.

Bottom line is: believe in yourself, be confident and focus on your strengths. For more career advice and help with choosing a career, be sure to check out Careers Out There is a video interview show that helps you in every episode by profiling a different type of career. Our guests are real professionals who work in each career path and tell us what their jobs are really like, how you can break in and how to succeed once you're there. I'm Marc Luber, the author of this article and the host of the show. I look forward to seeing you there and helping you out - so click over to Careers Out There so we can start helping you now.
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