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The Job Interview is Not Just About the Job Duties

by Carole Martin, The Interview Coach

Are you stuck in the notion that the job interview is just about the job duties - it's NOT! Here is what the interviewer is really looking for.


The first item of business for an interviewer to determine is if you have the qualifications to perform the duties of the job. That is the basic part of interviewing - to determine if the qualifications and experiences fit the requirements of the position.


The next item of business is to find out if this person is a good "fit" for the job. In other words, will he fit into the team and the company culture? Although this is the more subjective part of the interview, it can make or break your chances of getting the job.

The way you answer a question could be sending the wrong message. Are you describing yourself in the best light?


On the surface this appears to be a straightforward question, but if you answer too hastily you may end up sounding like every other candidate. What makes you unique? How can you make yourself stand out and be remembered?

Interviewers ask this question for a couple of reasons; to hear where you place the emphasis in your description, and to see how quickly and creatively you can think on the spot. SPICE UP YOUR ANSWERS!

Don't leave the interviewer with the same old answers everybody else gives. Think about new ways to get your message across and sell yourself.

"I am a high energy person." This answer needs more detail and energy.
"I am a person who is energized by challenges and problems."

"I'm a hard worker." The most common phrase used. No imagination.
"I do whatever it takes to get the job done; sometimes working 10 hour days."

"I am a quick learner." An overused phrase which has lost its effectiveness.
"I can hit the ground running and come up to speed faster than anyone I know."

"I'm analytical." A lack-luster answer, that doesn't reveal much information.
"I'm a whiz at analyzing data and transforming it into useful information."

"I'm very organized." This is a very understated answer.
"I am a person who can bring order to chaos."

"I'm reliable." This answer needs more information to get the point across.
"I pride myself on my record of never missing deadlines."

"I'm good with customers." The answer needs clarification. Good in what way?
"I build great relationships with customers. They always ask for me."

Describing your personality is like writing ads for a product. What makes you unique? Are you the type of person who would fit into this organization? Your job is to convince your interviewer that you are that person. Make a list of personality traits that describe you. The qualities you would like the interviewer to remember after the interview. Use some of the same words in the job posting. Requirement: "Must have five or more years experience managing a diverse population of employees."

Your Answer: "I work well with all types of people."

This is a rather flat statement and not specific. Try a new slant using more powerful words.

"I am a person who values others' qualities and contributions. My employees would tell you that I am a very fair manager who listens when they have something to say."

The more specific you are with your answer, the better your chances of leaving a lasting impression. Interviewers talk to several candidates in a single day. What will make you a memorable candidate?

In today's competitive job market it is worth taking some time to think about how you can describe your personality in a way that will make you stand out. The buyer needs to be sold on your uniqueness and abilities. When you sound like everybody else, you look like everybody else. Distinguishing yourself from the pack will give you an edge. A little work before the interview will put some zip in your pitch.

To your job interview success!

Carole Martin
The Interview Coach

PS: You can get many more examples of how to put "energy" into your answers at AND, if you are re-entering the job market or are looking for your first job after graduating, we have a special tool for you - we show you how to weave your past experiences into great answers for the tough job interview questions - go to and look for the Students Version.