You’re the Value! Preparing to ace your interview (part 2)

November 10, 2021

Welcome back to our series on preparing to ace your interview

It’s a game!

The goal of the game is to establish yourself in a career. Why do we call it a game? Because if we visualise a job application as a game, it quantifies our position. It enables us to view the process in a manner we’re familiar with. Just like the pieces on a chessboard where every piece can win the game you play a position in the hiring game where you have the power to influence the outcome and reach your goal of being hired.

Why should we hire you?

We dedicate this entire post to finding and understanding your value and showcasing it to the interviewer. We are not referring to your degree. Your academic qualification is as they say; academic! Value is the differentiator and the thing that will get you hired – where all your opponents have the same academic qualifications.

During your interview, they will ask you: Why should we hire you?

Typically this question is asked at the end of the interview, so it’s your last chance to leave a lasting impression on the interviewer. Your chance to showcase your value.

First, you must quantify your value. Truth is, most of us don’t know what makes us valuable as candidates and even people. So how do you figure this out?

Your studies

Let’s start with something you can gauge fairly easily, your studies. To do this, you need to answer the following question: 

Why did you choose your particular field of study? 

Examples may be:

  • You studied law because you believe in justice for victims of serious crimes.
  • You studied accountancy because numbers tell a thousand stories.
  • You studied political science because you grew up in a politically vibrant community and you’re fascinated by the psychology of political doctrine.
  • You studied medicine because you have family members that have a hereditary disease and you would like to find a cure. 

This is important because companies and organisations want employees who have a personal connection and genuine interest in their career choice. They do not want people who studied something that only guarantees them financial stability. People who have money as their primary goal for entering a career don’t always succeed. It has been shown that people who are successful, make career choices because they want to solve a problem. 

An example to clarify the above statement is seen in public services. Police, firefighters, postal workers, etc. Countries where people have had equal opportunity rights in education and the economy generally enter public service careers as a calling because of an emotional attachment. A great example would be the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in the USA on the 11th of September 2001. The heroes of that fateful day were the first responders, the police and firefighters. They are the reason tens of thousands of people joined up in the aftermath of 9/11. The powerful emotions of that day invoked a calling. This is what employers are looking for, it’s intangible but extremely valuable.

Write your story and be prepared to tell it. Be confident, summarise it, but don’t leave out the important parts. The best way is to test it on family members or a lecturer.

What’s extraordinary about your years of study?

The short answer is your achievements during your stay at varsity. Examples may be:

  • You wrote a paper on a something that your lecturer, or an industry journal published. 
  • You led a project that was successful in empowering people in a marginalised community to start and run a business.
  • You used your communication skills to lobby politicians to improve healthcare for mothers and babies in a rural community.
  • You started an online business that has helped pay for your studies and living expenses.
  • You volunteered your time at a school performing physical therapy on pupils that play sport.

What other university activities did you take part in?

This requires no explanation, but is important to employers as it shows dedication, responsibility and loyalty. Companies want balanced individuals as employees. They want people who look after themselves mentally and physically as it helps people deal with the many stresses experienced at work.

A great example would be if you are applying to a law firm. And you were in the debating society and took part in national debates – that would definitely be of value.

Me, Myself and I

Humans are often afraid to share their story with strangers. Your life experiences define you. You often hear people say: I’ve heard that story a hundred times. The theme of the stories may be similar to someone such as counsellors that deal predominantly with children from broken families.  However, it’s not the theme of the story that is important, but how you experienced being part of it, how you dealt with and overcame its challenges.

The details of what you did when faced with challenges are what employers want to know.

For example, if you grew up walking a few hours to school and back and built a motorised bicycle out of discarded car parts, with a sidecar for your friends. This shows ingenuity, design prowess and perseverance.

If you grew up with siblings in a single-parent household and your parent worked the night shift, leaving you in charge of your siblings; you cooked for them and helped them with their schoolwork, and ensured they kept the house clean. That shows responsibility, time management, and the ability to delegate and manage.

We all have our own stories, so take the time to think about yours and how you overcame your challenges, whether you perceive them as big or small. Write them down and relate them to some of the challenges you could possibly face in the position you’re applying for. Get the opinion of a lecturer, someone you may have connected with in the same industry or a mentor, take notes of the feedback and then adjust accordingly. In cases like these it’s always good to get two opinions from different spectrums (not two family members).

Part 3, coming soon…

We’ve reached the end of this post but not the series. Remember the real value to an employer where all other candidates have the same academic qualifications is – YOU. Follow the advice we’ve given and you will find your value. You will surprise yourself not only as a person but as a professional. Thanks for reading, keep preparing, we’ll see you soon.

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