This is another broad
question that can take you down the wrong
road unless you've done some thinking ahead
of time. This question is purely about
selling yourself. Think of yourself as the
product. Why should the customer buy?
The Wrong Track
Spencer answers by
saying, "Because I need and want a job."
That's nice, but the bottom line here is,
"What can you do for us?"
Mariana says, "I'm a
hard worker and really want to work for this
company." The majority of people think of
themselves as hard workers -- and why this
The Right Track
Tom's answer to this
question is, "Because I'm a good fit for the
position." Getting warmer, but more details,
Sharon answers, "I
have what it takes to solve problems and do
the job." This is the best answer so far.
Expand on this, and you've got it.
Develop a Sales Statement
The more detail you
give, the better your answer will be. This
is not a time to talk about what you want.
Rather, it is a time to summarize your
accomplishments and relate what makes you
Product Inventory Exercise
The bottom line of
this question is, "What can you do for this
Start by looking at
the job description or posting. What is the
employer stressing as requirements of the
job? What will it take to get the job done?
Make a list of those requirements.
Next, do an inventory
to determine what you have to offer as a fit
for those requirements. Think of two or
three key qualities you have to offer that
match those the employer is seeking. Don't
underestimate personal traits that make you
unique; your energy, personality type,
working style and people skills are all very
relevant to any job.
The Sales Pitch: You Are the
From the list of
requirements, match what you have to offer
and merge the two into a summary statement.
This is your sales pitch. It should be no
more than two minutes long and should stress
the traits that make you unique and a good
match for the job.
"From our conversations, it sounds as if
you're looking for someone to come in and
take charge immediately. It also sounds like
you are experiencing problems with some of
your database systems. With my seven years
of experience working with financial
databases, I have saved companies thousands
of dollars by streamlining systems. My high
energy and quick learning style enable me to
hit the ground and size up problems rapidly.
My colleagues would tell you I'm a team
player who maintains a positive attitude and
outlook. I have the ability to stay focused
in stressful situations and can be counted
on when the going gets tough. I'm confident
I would be a great addition to your team."
What Makes You Unique?
Completing an exercise
around this question will allow you to
concentrate on your unique qualities. Like
snowflakes, no two people are alike. Take
some time to think about what sets you apart
- "Never miss
- "Bring order to
- "Good sense of
- "Great attention
Let the interviewer
know that you have been listening to the
problem and have what it takes to do the job
-- that you are the solution to the problem.
You have a job
interview tomorrow. You've learned
everything about the company, you're
prepared for any questions they ask, and
you even arrived a few minutes early.
You couldn't be more ready.
But when you stop in the restroom for a
last look in the mirror, your mind
starts racing: "Am I dressed the way I
should be for this interview?"
"In an interview situation, you're
marketing yourself as a product, and so
you want and need to have the best image
possible," says Amy Glass, a trainer and
coach at Brody Communications Ltd. of
Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, and an expert
on presentation skills, business
etiquette, professional presence and
Presenting a professional image is more
about doing your homework than spending
money. So as you prepare for your
interview, keep these wardrobe tips in
In many traditional industries, like
finance or accounting, business
professional dress will be appropriate:
A conservative suit, shirt and tie if
you're a man, or a conservative suit if
you're a woman, with -- perhaps --
personality shown through your shirt or
jewelry, Glass says. In other industries
such as advertising, public relations,
graphic design and information
technology, what to wear might be less
clear. If that's the case, Glass says,
ask about the company's general dress
policies when you're first contacted
about an interview.
"You can say to the
person you speak with, 'I want to make
sure I understand your company culture
and dress appropriately,'" Glass notes.
"It's not a bad thing at all. In fact,
it shows respect."
If in doubt, err on the conservative
side. "I've been overdressed at times,
and that can be uncomfortable," Glass
says. "But that's much better than being
You don't have to buy several suits for
different interviews at the same
company. In many instances, you can get
by with one suit combined with what
Glass calls a "capsule dressing"
strategy -- varying what you wear with
the suit each time.
"If I'm a young woman
and I invest in a nice black pantsuit, I
could use that one suit for interviews,
but change the shirt, jewelry or scarf
each time," says Glass.
Visit higher-end stores, like
Nordstrom's or Neiman Marcus, to look at
interview clothes, Glass says. But when
you're ready to buy something and money
is tight, head for the outlet stores.
When considering your purchasing options
look not so much at the specific price
tags on various garments, but at the
"cost per wearing," suggests Glass.
"Suppose you see a
suit that's $150. If it's a trendy cut
and it wasn't made of great fabric, you
might be able to wear it once a month
for two years. So your cost per wearing
is fairly high. If you buy something for
$300 instead, in a cut that will last
longer -- not trendy but not
old-fashioned either, and not screaming
the year it was made -- your cost per
wearing goes down dramatically. So don't
look at the original price so much as
how long the piece will be useful to
If you have leather
shoes, Glass says, make sure they're
shined. If you have suede shoes, make
sure they're brushed. And if your shoes
are five years old, have the soles
redone at a shoemaker. If you have a
leather briefcase and it's still in good
shape, now's the time to use it. If you
don't, a nice portfolio binder will do
Will all the effort
and expense you put into your
professional image for your interview
make any difference? Absolutely, Glass
says. In fact, it's essential.
"Your image matters
because it shows your attentiveness to
detail and gives recruiters an idea of
how you'll represent their company to
clients, both internally and
externally," Glass concludes. "The
visual message you send makes a big
difference in how you're perceived and,
ultimately, whether or not you get the
Most job seekers put a great deal of effort
into applying for positions and interviewing
memorably. But there is another aspect to
job hunting that a lot of people neglect:
taking time to follow-up properly at each
stage of the search.
As an applicant for a position you are being
judged for each action that you take (or
fail to take). Forgetting to send a Thank
You note after each interview, not letting
your networking contacts know what stage
you’re at in your search, assuming that once
you’ve applied to a position listed on
GoldenCVs.com you should sit back and wait
for employers to call...these are common
errors with simple solutions.
Take the job application for starters. So
you’ve sent in your resume to one or more of
the postings on our site. A good beginning.
But what if you don’t hear anything although
a week has already gone by?
Don’t assume that you haven’t been selected
for an interview. Employers operate on their
own timeframes, which may be very different
than yours. A gentle prod can work in your
favour here. Consider calling the employer
after five business days of applying, to
leave a polite message asking if they’ve
received your resume, and reminding them
what a terrific fit you’d be for the job.
Often you will be contacted by a screener or
scheduler from the employer when they want
to bring you in for a face-to-face
interview. Get the name and title of that
person and e-mail them a quick Thank You
note. Same for the day of the interview:
make sure to get a business card from
everyone you meet with, then within two to
three business days send each of these
people a short Thank You e-mail. After the
more important interviews, you might even
mail in a card conveying your appreciation.
And what if another week or two passes by
without hearing from the employer you’ve
interviewed with? Follow-up with a courteous
phone call or e-mail, asking when you might
expect to hear from them next. Add a short
‘personal advertisement’ (a few words about
why you’re the best candidate and how
excited you are by this opportunity).
Give In Return
Aside from applying to the job postings on
GoldenCVs.com, you will likely be networking
with friends, family and others as part of
your search for new employment. The people
that help you most – by giving you leads,
reviewing your resume, offering to serve as
a reference – deserve to be kept informed of
Every few weeks send them a message that
lets them know you have followed up on their
advice. Provide them with a sense of how
your applications and interviews are going.
If you can, try giving something back every
so often. Maybe you stumble on article or
piece of information that one of your
contacts might find useful. Possibly you
meet someone new along the way who you’d
like to put in touch with one of your
references because they share certain
You might not realize how important it can
be to follow-up properly at each stage.
After all, don’t you have enough on your
plate with polishing that resume and honing
your interview skills?
To put it into perspective, an employer may
be faced, in the end, with two or more
“equal” candidates that they must choose
from. What if one of them hadn’t bothered to
send a Thank You? It could be as subtle as
that. It pays to pay attention to details.
It demonstrates your professionalism in ways
that might just win you that job.