Picture this: you apply for a job and make it to the final round. But another candidate, with less experience than you, gets the offer.
Frustrating, yes. But it’s really common.
The reality is, there’s a sea of candidates applying for each open role. A lot of them are in no way better than you. Yet, they get an offer and you don’t.
This is because you probably don’t know how to sell yourself. And selling yourself in an interview is often the key step to standing out from the competition.
How to sell yourself in an interview?
- Research and understand your prospective company
- Emphasize your unique selling points (USPs)
- Deliver an amazing elevator pitch
- Focus on key skills and accomplishments
- Showcase your soft skills
- Display positive body language
- Ask insightful questions
- Close the interview strategically
- Send a post-interview thank-you email
Let’s dive in and help you become irresistible.
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What It Means to “Sell Yourself” in an Interview
- Selling yourself in an interview doesn’t mean overpromising, exaggerating, or being arrogant.
- It means presenting relevant experience and skills in an appealing way and showing enthusiasm for the role.
- Remember — talking honestly about things you’ve done well in the past doesn’t make you appear cocky.
- If you’re a modest person, it can be challenging, but all it takes is a bit of practice for you to go from forgettable to irresistible.
People think selling themselves means overpromising, embellishing past achievements, and being pushy.
It’s actually this simple: selling yourself in an interview means presenting your strengths and skills that the company is looking for, backing them up with evidence, and showing enthusiasm for the role.
If you’re modest, it can be a daunting task — but anyone can do it with a bit of practice. Studies suggest that using self-promotion strategies can improve your interview ranking, so we’d say working on this will definitely pay off.
Take Lawrence for example. He’s a successful IT guy with an impressive resume and no problem getting up in front of a room full of colleagues. However, he hasn’t interviewed in a while and he’s always been a fairly humble guy.
Our career coach, Pam, asked about his strengths in their first session. He got confused and started to stumble and mumble. Lawrence was like most of us — the sheer thought of “self-promotion” made him cringe.
But after one session, Lawrence went from modest and forgettable to irresistible (and he got the job offer that he wanted anyway).
And if you’re like him, we’re here to help. Keep reading, as we’ll teach you how to sell yourself in an interview, step by step.
How to Sell Yourself in an Interview
1. Research and understand your prospective company
- Research who you’re interviewing for and what they want from this role.
- Your guidelines are the keywords in the job description.
- Scour their website, google them, check forums and hiring platforms to check their reputation, and speak to their (past) employees.
This is a crucial first step. It will help you:
- Adjust your approach
- Highlight relevant skills and experience
- Come up with relevant and thoughtful questions to ask.
You’ll come across as a person who knows (and owns) their stuff. The kind anyone wants on their team.
Where can you start?
Study the job description and find keywords that will point you in the right direction.
This will show you what they need and will help you take relevant experiences from your work history and present them in a memorable way.
But you’ll also need to:
- Visit their website
- Google their name and reputation
- Check forums
- Check hiring platforms for reviews
- Speak to people who work(ed) for the company to get the bigger picture
✅ Pro tip: Knowing who you’ll speak to during interviewing stages (HR, team leaders, founders, team members) will help you anticipate the kind of questions they’ll ask. HR will be most interested in your experience and qualifications. A CEO might focus on your vision, strategic thinking, and if you’re a cultural fit.
If you need more tips to rock any job interview, we’ve prepared a free course to teach you how to speak about your strengths, sell yourself, and negotiate the salary of your dreams.
2. Identify and articulate your unique selling points (USPs)
- Identify the unique selling points (USPs) that will make you stand out.
- Your USPs consist of key skills, key accomplishments, and an element that makes you special (experience in a certain industry; particular project/award; connections…).
- Support USPs with a proof statement (short story, example, achievement).
- Mention your USP when asked: “Tell me about yourself”, “Why should we hire you?”, and “Why this role/company?”
To convince a recruiter you’ll be the perfect addition to their company, think of the bits and pieces of your professional self that make you special.
Create your USP by:
- Mentioning key skills you possess that the company needs.
- Highlighting your main accomplishment (ideally the one that fits the job ad/company needs).
- Saying what sets you apart (a particular project/award, experience with certain industries, connections…).
Then, create a supporting proof statement for each selling point. It can be a short story or a particular example that showcases your selling point.
You can see a few examples below, adjusted to fit the criteria outlined in the job ad.
Example selling point #1: Management skills/experience
For a management role, you’ll want to demonstrate that you can successfully lead others. If this is one of your strengths, highlight it with specifics:
Proof Statement A (specific example): In my current role, I have built a great team that has grown from 3 to 14 over the last five years. Early on, I learned a lot from my mentors about how to hire the right people and coach them to success. Now I’m proud to say that my team has been acknowledged as the most productive and cohesive group in the division. Now my bosses send young managers to me to mentor!
Proof Statement B (general description): I love being a manager and I believe it’s one of my greatest strengths. I have managed customer service teams at both large and small companies for more than four years, so I know how to get the best out of customer service professionals.
Example selling point #2: Hard worker
A strong work ethic is a great asset and a desirable quality for almost any position.
Just keep in mind that interviewers hear this “hard worker” claim a lot and may not see it as a huge differentiator. If you choose this as one of your interview selling points, make sure you have a great example or proof statement that shows how you personify this quality.
Also, be sure to supplement this one with additional selling points that are more specific to the role and set you apart more clearly.
Proof Statement A (specific example): In my previous position, I put in many late nights to ensure that our monthly client newsletter went out on time — and that it met the company’s high-quality standards. Because of layoffs, we were understaffed and I volunteered to take on many additional tasks beyond my role — I wrote stories, edited for our other writers, oversaw layout, and served as the final proofreader to ensure no mistakes made it to press. The issue was a huge success and resulted in lots of positive feedback from clients and from senior management.
Proof Statement B (general description): I have always been that person who’s first in the office in the morning and last to leave in the evening. I’m the guy who taught himself programming so that I could be more valuable to my team on our site redesign project. I’m not happy unless I know I’m giving my all.
✅ Pro tip: You can mention your USPs on several occasions during the interview — when they ask:
- “Tell me about yourself”
- “Why should we hire you?”
- “Why this role/company?”
And for additional tips on how to leave a great impression, check out the video below:
3. Create and master your elevator pitch
- Create a 30–60–second–long elevator pitch to show who you are as a professional.
- Your elevator pitch = who you are, what you accomplished, what you can do for the company, and how you fit in.
- Be positive and practice for a perfect delivery.
An elevator pitch is a concise, appealing summary of your experience and key skills, typically delivered in the time span of an elevator ride — hence the name.
In an interview, you can generally use your elevator pitch when you’re asked “Tell me about yourself,” usually right at the beginning of an interview.
How to create an elevator pitch
- Be brief (30–60 seconds tops).
- Share your key accomplishments and skills: who you are and what you’ve done.
- Know your audience and speak to them: what you’ll do for them and how you fit in.
- Be positive: your enthusiasm counts and is an important factor recruiters will take into account.
Elevator pitch: Sample
I’m a Customer Service Specialist with 9 years of experience in the SaaS industry, primarily in the Trucking and Logistics sector. I have extensive experience with the biggest ELDs on the market. Over the past 4 years, I consistently exceeded expectations, resulting in 2 promotions in my current company. I’m looking for new challenges, perhaps even taking on more responsibilities as a Customer Success Manager, and I believe my versatile experience and connections are a solid starting point. I’m passionate about meaningful work and my unique blend of strong technical skills and excellent communication allows me to deliver exceptional service to customers. I’d love to discuss how my expertise can contribute to your team’s success.
4. Present your skills and accomplishments
- Focus on quantifiable accomplishments and relevant skills.
- Use the PAR (Problem-Action-Solution) formula to think of achievements.
- Check the frequency and scale of your work to think of achievements.
- Make your achievements SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely).
- If you don’t have enough relevant experience, qualitative achievements will do (positive feedback and similar).
- Use the STAR (Situation-Task-Action-Result) method when talking about achievements.
Remember that golden resume rule that you should always focus on your accomplishments and skills rather than everyday duties?
The same goes for interviews.
Quantifiable achievements (and relevant skills) are something you’ll always want to emphasize.
They’re solid proof of everything you say about yourself. Having trouble coming up with or quantifying achievements?
Use the PAR (Problem-Action-Solution) formula
For every position you worked in, think about some of your successes and what actions you took to achieve them. What problems were they tied to? This should help you get inspired.
Make your accomplishments SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely
This means providing achievements that are specific, measurable, data-driven, and believable.
Talk about frequency and scale
Think about how frequently you were able to deliver your work (resolved X customer tickets/day, wrote X long-form pieces of content/month, booked X demos with clients/week) or the scale of your work (how many people you managed, how many people from other departments you collaborated with, how big the budgets you handled were…). These are achievements in themselves.
List qualitative achievements
If you don’t have hard numbers but you still feel like you improved something, you can still bring it up as an achievement in an interview. Telling a story about it will create space for you to showcase your skills, especially if you’re just starting out and lack relevant experience (qualitative achievements are praises from your superiors, awards, promotions, and similar).
Use the STAR model
Once you have the list of achievements and skills you want to mention, the best way to showcase them is through the STAR model (Situation-Task-Action-Result).
- Situation: the context of the problem you were faced with.
- Task: how you wanted to solve the problem.
- Action: what exactly you did.
- Results: the impact your action made on the business (it’s best to quantify the results whenever possible).
For each accomplishment, pick a single event from your experience. This is the most efficient way to prove your skills. And if you practice before the interview, your story will flow naturally, it will be engaging and compelling, and you’ll be able to efficiently get your point across.
Our Answer Builder will help you list supporting arguments for each event you want to mention.
5. Showcase your soft skills
- Don’t merely talk about soft skills — find a way to prove them during the interview.
- For proving interpersonal and communication skills, be an active listener, be clear and concise, and use positive body language.
- For proving you’re dedicated, prepare for the interview, research the company, and know their pain points.
- For proving your wit, know the company and ask smart, relevant questions.
Unlike hard skills, you can’t really quantify soft skills and present them as achievements. Yet, they’re equally important. So how do you showcase them in an effective way?
During the interview process itself.
Want to showcase your interpersonal and communication skills? ➡️ Be an active listener. Ensure you fully understand a question before answering. In your answers, be clear and concise. Pay attention to your non-verbal cues, nod your head to let a recruiter know you’re listening, and use positive body language (eye contact, open arms, body facing their direction). After the interview, send a thank-you note.
Want to showcase you’re dedicated and resourceful? ➡️ Come to the interview prepared. Getting to know the company before the interview will hint at how dedicated and resourceful you are in everything that you do.
Want to showcase your sharp wit and critical thinking? ➡️ Ask the right questions after the interview. Make sure they’re meaningful and tailored to the company you applied for — they’ll reveal a ton of useful information. You get the drill. Actions speak louder than words here.
6. Display positive body language
- Have a firm handshake and maintain eye contact.
- Sit up straight, facing the interviewer with your whole body. Don’t cross your arms.
- Smile when appropriate.
- Control nervous habits: no leg shaking and pen clicking.
- Practice in front of the mirror to quickly improve.
“It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it” — this is actually, mostly true. More than half of what you communicate is through your body language and non-verbal communication instead of what you actually say.
Being mindful of your non-verbal communication and body language will help you be confident and sell yourself, leave the right impression, and establish a more professional presence.
Here’s how to do it:
- Practice a firm handshake and eye contact. This will help you immensely with first impressions.
- Sit up straight. Don’t slouch or lean away from the interviewer. Keep your back straight, your arms open, and your entire body turned towards the interviewer.
- Maintain a proper amount of eye contact. Don’t avoid eye contact but don’t overdo it and stare at the interviewer all the time — a healthy amount, the one you’d use with your family and friends, will do. Maintaining eye contact will show that you’re confident and engaged.
- Smile when appropriate. A genuine smile during the handshake and when talking about positive experiences in your past will make a world of difference — showing that you’re an approachable, warm person, even hinting that you’re a team player.
- Control nervous habits. Don’t bite your nails, shake your leg, or click your pen. Contrary to what you think, these will only make you more nervous. Stop it and you’ll see your mind and body relax.
- Practice. Stand in front of the mirror (or use our Mock Interview Tool) and observe your body language, eye contact, hand gestures, and general posture. You should be able to quickly figure out areas of improvement and work on them to eliminate the negatives and be the best version of yourself in the interview. If you use the Mock Interview Tool, you’ll also get instant feedback on the quality of your answer, the pace of your speech, the power words that you used, and similar. You can also share your answers with friends, family, or coaching mentors who can help you further perfect your delivery.
7. Ask insightful questions
- The questions you ask at the end of the interview can make or break your reputation.
- Don’t be lazy, research the company and prepare a set of tailored questions.
- Nice questions to ask: “Why is this position open?”; “A year from now when you’re looking back on this hire, what would I have done to exceed every expectation?”; “What do new employees often find surprising after they start?; “Where do you see this role in the company’s growth?”
- Never say “No questions on my side, thanks.”
To put it frankly, the questions you ask at the end of the interview will show if you’re lazy and forgettable or curious and resourceful. They can make or break your status with a recruiter. God forbid you say “No questions on my side, thanks.”
If you get these questions right, it’ll give you an advantage over 90% of other applicants — and will help you to sell yourself. Not to mention you’ll identify if the company is the right fit for you.
You can ask all types of questions based on the company you’re interviewing for, the industry it operates in, company culture, or its long-term plans and vision.
Examples of insightful questions you can ask:
- Why is this position open?
- A year from now when you’re looking back on this hire, what would I have done to exceed every expectation?
- What do new employees often find surprising after they start?
- Where do you see this role in the company’s growth?
- What are the biggest challenges your team is currently facing and how are you addressing them?
- What’s different about working here than anywhere else you’ve worked?
Check our full guide for more smart questions to ask in a job interview.
8. Close strategically
- The end of the interview is your last chance to leave a lasting impression.
- Make a small announcement showing gratitude, circling back to company values and how you share them, restate your interest in the position, recap key points, ask for the next steps, and be courteous and confident.
- Do this at the end of the interview after you answered all the questions. You can say something like “Before we leave, I just want to thank you for your time and…”
Closing the interview is your last chance to leave a lasting impression, so you’ll want to make sure you emphasize your dedication, passion, and the fact that you’re the right fit for the role.
Here are a few tips to help you close your interview strategically and make recruiters excited about extending you an offer.
1. Show gratitude
Thank the recruiter for their time and show appreciation for the opportunity to discuss the role and company in question.
2. Circle back to the company’s culture and values
Briefly mention the examples of shared values and goals between you and the company — it’ll show that you did your research and that you’re a cultural fit.
3. Emphasize your interest in the position
Restate how interested you are in the position within their company and mention a particular detail from the conversation/job description that made you excited to work there. Make sure to mention how the position matches your skills and experience and your professional plans for the future.
4. Recap key points
Briefly go through the key points mentioned during the interview (particular achievements and skills that make you a perfect fit). It’ll remind recruiters of how you can bring value.
5. Ask for the next steps
Feel free to inquire about the next steps in the interview process and how you’ll be moving forward. But remember to be polite!
6. Be courteous
Thank the recruiter once again for their time and efforts and say you’re looking forward to hearing from them soon.
7. Display healthy confidence
Confidence is a magnet that will make others more attracted to you. Interestingly, confident candidates high in extroversion tend to engage in more honest self-promotion. This might motivate you to at least fake it till you make it.
✅Pro tip: The perfect time to close the interview strategically is after all the questions are answered and the interview is about to end. You can start by saying something like “Before we leave, I just want to thank you for your time and…”
9. Send a thank-you note
- Sending a thank-you note after the interview is the last step to take in the interview process.
- Send it in the form of an email within 24 hours after the interview.
- If you interviewed with several people, send them thank-you emails separately.
- In this email, thank the recruiter for their time, personalize by mentioning one of the key points of discussion, subtly demonstrate you’re the right fit, and restate your interest in the position.
So you prepared for your interview, learned all types of questions and how to best answer them, learned how to sell yourself, and crushed the interview.
Chill time, right?
Not yet. Not until you take the final, crucial step to selling yourself:
Writing a post-interview thank-you note, the cherry on top that will solidify the rapport you established with the recruiter.
Here’s a few tips on how to write it:
- Begin this email by thanking the recruiter for their time
- Personalize it by briefly mentioning some of the key points of discussion
- Include details about your excitement for the position
- Subtly demonstrate how you’re a fit for the role
- Reiterate your interest
- Send the email within 24 hours after the interview
- If you had an interview with several people, send them separate thank-you notes (don’t copy-paste the same email to everyone!)
For more details and specific instructions on how to write a thank-you note, head here: How to Write an Interview Thank You Email [Tips + Examples].
Post-interview thank-you note sample
Subject Line: Thank You | Content Writer Interview
Dear Rachel, Once again, thank you for the time you took to meet with me yesterday to discuss the Content Writer position at your company. I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about Skillful Communications, especially the details regarding the collaborative company culture and systematic approach to operational processes, which I really value.
I’m excited about the potential opportunity to work with your diverse team of writers and editors, as I’m certain I’d provide value with my educational background and hands-on writing and editing experience.
Please let me know if there is any additional information you need from me. I hope to hear back from you and have the opportunity to continue our discussion about the role.
Sincerely, Maja Stojanovic
Summary of the Main Points
- Knowing how to sell yourself in an interview is a skill that will help you stand out (even if you have less experience than other candidates).
- Selling yourself isn’t bragging or lying in order to get a job — it’s presenting yourself and speaking about your skills and experience in a memorable, appealing way.
- In order to successfully do it, you’ll need to research and understand the prospective company, identify and promote your unique selling points, master your elevator pitch, focus on measurable accomplishments, and showcase your soft skills as well as your spotless non-verbal communication and body language.
- Post-interview thank-you notes are a useful tool that will help you solidify the great impression you left on the recruiter.
- As usual, preparing and practicing selling yourself in an interview will make you confident and appealing, increasing your chances of landing that offer.
Need a hand? There’s 3 ways we can help:
- Tired of interviewing and not landing the job? Discover actionable lessons and interview practice here (Rated with 4.9/5 by 1,000,000 users).
- Learn about 30+ common job interview mistakes to avoid.
- Find out how to decrease anxiety and calm your nerves before a job interview.
I’m on my way to the interview now — what’s the key thing to do to sell myself?
Present your accomplishments and skills in a way that will prove you 1) have the experience 2) are aware of the company’s needs 3) are the right person for the job. Use the STAR model to showcase your achievements and pay attention to your non-verbal communication (be polite, smile when appropriate, and assume positive body language).
How to sell yourself in an interview if you have no experience?
By focusing on what you have: transferable skills, academic experience, and any work experience, however small. In these cases, draw a lesson from each academic experience and take one or two key transferable skills that will show you have the potential to be successful in a role (always focus on key skills listed in the job ad). Try to draw parallels between your existing skills and achievements and how you could use them to be successful in the future. Display positive body language, be polite, ask smart questions at the end of the interview, and send a post-interview thank-you email.
How to sell yourself in an interview for a managerial role?
Pick out your proudest leadership accomplishments and tell them through appealing stories using the STAR method. Present your key managerial skills (ideally ones also mentioned in the job description) as your unique selling points and prepare a proof point for each.
How to sell yourself in 30 seconds?
Create a spotless elevator pitch in which you’ll briefly touch upon who you are and what you do, your proudest accomplishment, and how you can bring value to the new company. You can be positive, persuasive, and confident in your delivery by practicing beforehand.
Can introverts successfully sell themselves?
Absolutely! Selling yourself in an interview is not about being extroverted, bold, loud, or boisterous. It’s about presenting your strongest accomplishments and skills and backing them up with proof. Preparing your unique selling points and practicing in advance will help you sell yourself, even if you’re on the introverted side. If it’s easier, you can use another technique: engaging in self-verification behavior that might help you present yourself authentically. Or, if you want a more realistic picture, you can throw in a story or two about your own shortcomings.
What if I have no unique selling points and am just a solid employee?
Being a solid employee is a strength in itself. If you don’t have crazy achievements or unique selling points, you can always turn to the quality, scale, or frequency of your work — talk about how much you got done and how quickly you got it done. Emphasize soft skills like being consistent, dependable, hard-working, adaptable, and similar. Focus on qualitative achievements (promotions, company awards, positive feedback, bonuses, etc.) and use the STAR method when speaking about your accomplishments.