Bragging: Good or Bad in an Interview?
At a recent workshop where I was the guest speaker, I was asked about how you can talk about your positive qualities and not sound like you are bragging. I know a lot of job seekers are concerned that their attempt to sell their skills can come across as boastful and may turn off an interviewer. I believe this is a legitimate concern. So how can this be avoided? My belief is that if you have confidence in your skills and abilities and speak from the heart, you will sound genuine. If you are not confident in your skills and are only trying to impress, you will come across as a braggart.
So how do you come across as genuine? How do you have confidence in yourself? I think this goes back to what are you trying to achieve in your job search. I advise job seekers to understand the end goal of a job search---and that is not just a job. What role would make you happy? What environment plays to your strengths and yes, you need to figure out your strengths before you are in an interview. What experiences may have been hard but brought you joy and satisfaction? Those are the ones that you are going to talk about.
Judy is asked in an interview about the most challenging experience she had at her most recent job. She could have a response that goes something like this.
I am the go-to person when there is a technical problem. I have strong technical skills, and I just see things that other people don’t. The CRM software went down, and no one knew what to do. They asked me to help, and it took me a bit of time, but I saw the issue and we were up and running quickly. I was brought up to the stage at our corporate Town Hall, and the President personally thanked me which was neat.
Or like this:
I am a self-taught techie. It has always been an interest of mine to really understand the systems we use in my department. If I am working on a software product for most of the day, I just want to understand how it works. I read through all of the documentation and have even joined user groups to better understand the system. One day the system went down at a really bad time. We had a lot of items that needed to be processed. I heard it went down while I was in a meeting. I excused myself and went back to my desk and started troubleshooting. My boss was quite stressed and wanted to bring in the expensive consultant we have for this software right away. I told her to give me two hours to figure this out and if I couldn’t, to call the consultant. Fortunately, after 50 minutes of testing different scenarios, I found the problem and was able to fix it so that we were back up and running. I was given a reward for my efforts which was nice, but I was just glad to help out.
See the difference? The first example has no depth and is only about Judy. The second example provides more depth which puts more credibility to the story. In the second example, we see more of the true Judy, one that is interested in learning, willing to jump in to help and even a bit humble. Which Judy do you think the hiring manager might be more impressed with? Be genuine and not boastful; you might get better results from your interviews.