It’s Not About You: The Key to a Successful Job Interview


Have you ever met someone for the first time and, after exchanging the usual pleasantries about what a nice day it is (or isn’t), what each of you do for a living, etc., the person launches into a monologue all about him? His opinions. His tribulations. His day. His week. The funny thing his kid said the other night.

Not a pleasant happenstance, is it?

Well, the stakes are even higher during the job interview.

If we can give you just one piece of advice regarding job interviews, it is this: a job interview is not about you. It is not about your needs. Your desires. Your goals.

Yes, these topics probably will come up. But the purpose of a job interview is so that a potential employer can see how hiring you will benefit him.

In other words, what skills do you bring to his company? What problems of his can you solve? Can your sales background bring him (the company) money? Will your personality fit in his business’ culture?

So as you interview, keep the details about your needs to a minimum.  Never ask about benefits, salary, vacation time, etc. until either your interviewer brings it up or until you have an offer.

As you interview, be sure to detail how you’ve solved your previous employers’ problems. Talk about how you solved them not to brag but to show your possible new employer how you can take the skills you used to solve your previous boss’ challenges to solve your new employers’ needs.

We’ve seen it again and again: a hiring manager asks a candidate to “tell me a little about yourself.” And then the candidate launches into a monologue about how it’s always been a dream of his to work for a well-regarded construction firm and so this opportunity to work as a project coordinator is right up his alley, because this is taking him one step closer to his dream and he’s so pumped!

Instead, a savvier candidate will talk just a tiny bit about his background. Then he’ll mention how he read the company’s annual report and found it interesting the firm plans to move into green construction because he helped his last employer research the licensing and certificates necessary to become LEED certified and he’d like to discuss what he discovered with his interviewer, if he may.

May he?!!! He had the hiring manager at “I read your annual report and….”

So be sure to talk about how your skills, background and job history benefits a potential employer. Talk about your successes, of course, but couch them in how they helped a former employer.

Remember (and forget it at your peril): A job interview is not about you. It’s about them.

Need some tips for interviewing? We can help. RealStreet Staffing can coach you in the best interview practices so that you’ll shine before an employer. We can help the Washington Metro area’s construction, engineering, architecture professionals find positions with the area’s best companies. Contact us today.

RealStreet has been an excellent partner in understanding our programs’ unique staffing requirements-skills, experience, clearances, seasonality—and consistently provides qualified and highly productive team members who are often recognized by our customers for their performance.

Cheryll Bissell

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