By Erin Anacker
Years ago, I walked out of a job interview for a role I knew I’d be good at feeling totally underestimated. They showed me to the door saying, “Well, it seems like you’re probably not a good fit for the job.”
What did they even know about me? We’d barely spent an hour together and their questions did little to draw out what I am capable of. An open-ended conversation would have showed them more about me!
If you think about it, the job interview is kind of ridiculous. It’s like trying to decide whether or not to get married after a first date. The candidate rarely gets the opportunity to really get to know the company, team, or manager. And the company spends an hour—maybe five at most, but only for the highest-level roles—to determine whether or not to place a bet worth thousands upon thousands of dollars (in hiring, training, salary, and benefits).
Little did I know, back when I interviewed for that job, that most companies really struggle with hiring. They waste BILLIONS of dollars each year because they don’t know how to identify or assess people’s soft skills: character strengths, leadership traits, and people skills.
In fact, 40% of new hires fail to succeed in their first 18 months due to a soft skills mismatch—they quit, get fired, have behavioral issues, or simply underperform. This is largely because most hiring managers are not trained on how to hire. Often times, they don’t know what information is most important, nor do they know how to get it. When you walk in to your interview, keep in mind that they may be doing this for the very first time.
That means it’s up to you. You have to give them the information they need about your soft skills. Yes, technical skills and work history are valuable. But it’s soft skills that are the most predictive of job success.
You must be the expert on YOU. And you’ve got to show them, rather than tell them.
Hands down, the best way to communicate your most important strengths in the interview is to share how you came to be who you are today. How did you become adaptable? Hard working? Honest? Empathic? Share the origin story of your strengths.
For instance, back in that interview I had, I could have shared about how I became a tenacious learner. Growing up, reading and writing was really difficult for me. I had trouble understanding what I read, I needed A LOT of help getting ideas from my head on to paper, and I really, really, really hated reading out loud in class. It wasn’t until I was 33 years old, while researching neurodiversity, that I read the definition of Dyslexia for the first time and it all clicked.
Through my struggles with Dyslexia, I had to work harder than my peers at learning. I built up really strong muscles for persevering, following my curiosity, and being creative. Turns out, a Dyslexic brain thinks differently. With this superpower, I’m able to bring visions in my head to life and make connections that others may not see. Those are some pretty key skills for me, especially as a product designer!
So tell me, what are your superpowers and how did you come to develop them?
If you want to make sure that you’re prepared to share your most critical skills in the interview, we’ve built a platform to help you do just that. WholeStory helps you stand out from the crowd with a unique professional profile and interview prep course.
In fact, job seekers who complete the course are far more likely to get a job offer. That’s because they’re significantly more confident and better able to convey their soft skills in the interview.
This course is free to all job seekers.