The art of talking about yourself: 4 qualities to a superior interview

Career design: avoid this mistake when choosing your target role
August 5, 2021

Your goal when interviewing for a new job is to inspire confidence in your audience. You want to resonate as the ideal candidate. 

In my experience, resonance results from embodying four qualities:

  • enthusiasm 
  • competence 
  • relevance 
  • presence 

Enthusiasm and presence are related to your being; they relate to who you are and how you show up. In contrast, competence and relevance stem from your doing, including what you’ve accomplished to date and what you will do in the future. You resonate when you impart a balance of your being AND your doing to your interviewers that matches their expectations and aspirations for the role. 

Here’s a deeper look at each of the four qualities of resonance, and how to cultivate them. 

Enthusiasm naturally emerges when you are genuinely interested and energized by the role and the organization. Being clear about non-negotiables for your next career move enables you to confirm your criteria are a match for what’s being offered. When you care about the organization’s charter, you believe in what they’re doing and feel connected viscerally and this shows. Enthusiasm is obvious in your smile and is most effective when it accompanies a sense of resilience, lightness, positivity, and flow. Asking intentional questions to further the connection and deepen the exploration process puts your contagious enthusiasm on display.

Competence derives from your prior hands-on experience doing similar work, and your ability to convey succinct, compelling examples of your accomplishments. Articulating a clear understanding of the business challenges inherent in the role and proven strategies to solve these issues effectively communicates competence. Demonstrating the technical and soft skills required to do the job well, displayed through your stories and the way you engage with questions communicates that you have what it takes. For any experience gaps, sharing concrete ways to minimize the impact of those obstacles can render them a non-issue.

Relevance derives from a sense of being a cultural and social fit for the organization. You are relevant when you engender a sense in others that you will fit in well. Your awareness, articulation, and relish of the role’s challenges and opportunities help you embody the intangible qualities the company values. With your targeted career story, examples of past work, and company research nailed, you showcase your candidacy in the most relevant light. 

Presence emerges from both grounding and gravitas. Being prepared helps you slow down and incorporate important details into what you share and ask. A proven, tested tech setup for virtual interviews and early arrival for in-person sessions helps you concentrate, rather than risk your attention being hijacked by controllable influences. An outfit you feel comfortable in that matches the tenor of the role and company prevents you from being distracted by your appearance. Guided meditations, breathing exercises, and other mindfulness practices quiet your inner critic and enable you to focus on your message and rapport building. Confident, open body language communicates credibility and deep listening, elevating the quality of the conversation. You embody a sense of gravitas with the mindset that you are trying the company on as much as they are trying you on.

These four qualities are powerful levers you can push on when you are not gaining adequate traction in your interviews and networking. Where are you underinvesting? Where have you relied too much on one quality and not enough on another? Consider some experiments you can run to right-size the four qualities – enthusiasm, competence, relevance, and presence – to play with how to increase your sense of resonance for opportunities. You’ll be glad you did!