You need to be the best you can at describing your best qualities; particularly your key strengths. In my coaching practice I generally, at some point, ask my client: "What are you good at?" purely as a means to establish if they have already thought through this most important question.
Some have, but more often they haven't and the answer usually involves lots of head-scratching, umms and arrhs and then quite often a monologue on what they're NOT good at!!
Your answer to this should be your key strengths statement which we talked about in personal marketing on my website - let me remind you.
A "Key Strengths" statement is a summary of your most powerful skills and attributes.
The Key Strengths statement
- Highlights your most important skills and abilities
- Differentiates you from others
- Avoids generalisations
- Provides examples of your achievements
- Spoken naturally should take no more than two minutes
Of course at interview, the question may take many different forms:
"What are your main strengths?"
"why should we hire you?"
"what do you think makes you the best candidate?"
"convince me you're the right person for us"
"how do your skills match our particular needs?"
As with all your Presentation Statements it should be so well rehearsed that it sounds completely spontaneous.
This example I've given you here should get you thinking so give your Key Strengths statement some thought now.
"I have very good communication skills; I work well either leading or being part of a team and I am self-motivated and capable of working on several tasks at once.
As a leader of small teams I involve people in the decisions so that they feel involved and ensure they have the opportunity to contribute to tasks facing the team. I manage the information, plan and organise and make the decisions as required.
With my strong communication skills, I have been able to motivate the staff to higher standards of performance meaning we have also helped our profits figures through increased sales and tighter cost-control.
Alongside this I have encouraged innovation and my team has produced several very good ideas for new products, services and markets. As an example the new widget has taken off in Eastern Europe and is contributing 7% of profits in less than 18 months.
Most importantly I actively seek to develop members of my team for their own careers sake but also for the future of the business itself. This means I also look for personal development opportunities to ensure my skills are kept up to date."
If you refer to the sample CVs and resumes page on my website, sample resume #1 is for a Chief Engineer. The Key Strengths statement from him might go like this:
"I have very good communication skills and work across all departments to ensure that issues are identified and practical solutions are prepared. Coupled with my project management skills and my hands-on leadership style I am able to consistently deliver and commission projects on time and to budget.
I am focused on internal and external customer's needs, rather than purely functional needs and I apply specialist skills in continuous improvement and world class manufacturing to increase efficiency, reduce waste and losses due to downtime.
As Chief Engineer I have initiated and managed strategic change programmes and implemented effective quality improvement programs all the way through to successful local level implementation. This has led to savings of £750k per annum and helps to maintain the position and financial strength of my employer".
These key strengths statements naturally answer many of the interviewers questions whilst being reassuring in content. You will find though, that they will create new questions for the interviewer, so be aware that you must be able to substantiate everything you claim.
Try working on your own statement using your own words and skills, blending them together to create a strong "key strengths" statement to meet your needs.
You'll be surprised how often you use this one!!