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Selling Your Skills: Three Tips for Breaking through Your Modesty and Learning to Be Your Best Advoc

If you are going in for an interview, you will have to talk about yourself—a lot. Many of us are uncomfortable being the topic of conversation. While it wouldn’t be polite to dominate the conversation at a dinner party with conversations about yourself, in an interview the express point is to see if you are a good fit for the institution. It would be unhelpful if you avoided talking about yourself! It’s important to understand that true modesty is not the self-effacing version that is so often portrayed. Genuinely humble people are not embarrassed to talk about themselves. When you are modest, your ego gets out of the way and lets you get things done—including discussing your strengths if that’s the task at hand. We have three tips to help you be your best advocate:

1. Understand your strengths. In order to constructively discuss your strengths in an interview or elsewhere, you need to know what they are. Spend some time in honest reflection on what you know you’re good at and what others recognize in you. Review a description of the position you’re applying for and consider how your strengths could enhance the role.

2. Show what worked. Egotistical people are preoccupied with themselves. Invested people are concerned with the outcome. Secure individuals understand that they were one part of a strong process and are willing to frankly discuss their role in a project. They realize their attention to detail was a relevant factor in the success of an initiative. In your interview, use specific examples of successful outcomes and don’t be bashful about describing what traits and practices helped achieve it.

3. Celebrate the contributions of others. Insecure people aren’t willing to recognize their own contributions. Egotistical people aren’t willing to recognize the contributions of others. Confident people recognize both. As you relate a successful project, note how others helped you get there.