You attract job offers you genuinely desire when you focus on your unique and most appealing set of qualities. Positive self-awareness helps you naturally and intentionally communicate why you are the ideal candidate. After all, how you feel about yourself is like a cold. It’s contagious.
When you answer job interview questions with stories and examples that feature your best personal traits, you make a positive impression. You feel confident when you answer questions about your experience. Self-awareness is central to career success in part because in almost every job interview the interviewer will prompt you with some version of: “Tell me about yourself.”
Rather than freestyle through your history of education, community service, and work experience, it pays to be prepared by focusing on your positive traits before you’re called on to “tell your story.” I’ve created a simple way to crystallize your three best traits, by using a construct I call the Personal Brand Triad. That becomes the foundation of your storytelling. The goal is to identify three authentic, positive qualities about yourself so your stories about your education, work, or community service all communicate a clear, coherent, and positive message about you. By intentionally creating your reputation using this approach, you create an authentic “personal brand.”
Answer these questions to identify your best traits in three important dimensions. Pick one trait for each category. You’ll see some possible answers, but feel free to use your own words.
- What one quality has defined your personality since you can remember? Here are some traits to consider. Have you always been sensible, sociable, creative, curious, stylish, adventurous, strong, smart, idealistic, or compassionate?
- What one quality describes the way you solve problems? Here are some traits to consider. Are you most likely to be logical, resourceful, persistent, collaborative, flexible, inventive, focused, charming, optimistic, or spontaneous?
- What one quality describes the reason other people like to have you in their lives? Here are some traits to consider. Are you appreciated for being ethical, calm, polite, dependable, easy-going, amusing, appreciative, fun, sympathetic, or kind?
You might keep a journal to help you identify these traits. At the end of each day, write a journal entry about the positive things you did that day or reflect on a satisfying past experience. After two weeks, review your journal, circling all the constructive, helpful, upbeat qualities you displayed. Then review the three questions to determine your authentic Personal Brand Triad.
Now you’re ready to draft your responses to many job interview questions, including when an interviewer says, “Tell me about yourself.” Respond with your Personal Brand Triad. Then, provide stories from your education, community service and work activities that show how you put your traits into action.
Here’s an example:
“I am adventurous, focused, and dependable. For example, my very first job was being a camp counselor in a national forest. From my first day, I committed to mapping new trails in my free time, so my campers could have an exciting experience but feel confident they could rely on me. I prepared detailed hiking guides and kept them up-to-date as the weather changed, so other counselors and their campers would benefit from what I had learned and experienced.”