Standing out from other job applicants can be challenging, especially nowadays have you noticed the applicant volume has gone up? A lot!

How to showcase your suitability, experience, and unique skills or personality without over or underselling yourself?

Every interviewer aims to (or should aim to) understand your fit for the role and it spans across different areas.   

For senior hires, I normally will look at (in this order): 

  1. Your past 10-15 years of experience and achievements
  2. Soft skills (something I think is much harder to change or teach)
  3. Any unique strengths - whether for the job or as a person
  4. Your personal value system
  5. Personality: if you will be able to fit or add value to the culture
  6. Lastly, educational qualifications

In this article, we cover the 1st 3 areas.

I do know a lot of hiring managers prioritize education level, but being in the tech vendor executive search space for more than a decade, I can safely say, more often than not, education is not a key determinant of the candidate’s eventual growth or achievements. 


1. Your past 10-15 years of experience and achievements

The thing is most of the interviewers don't know how to ask the right questions. They want to ask what is your achievement so as to understand what impact you made, revenue or otherwise but what is verbalized can be: what was your biggest deal this year?

Now imagine, if this candidate’s average sales cycle is around 9 months. The candidate has an outstanding deal the year before. Sold against a Goliath competitor by sheer wits, determination, the ability to marshal internal presales teammates and consulting, etc, resourcefulness…..and end up answering the question to say a less satisfying one but it was the biggest this year via say an RFP they couldn't influence beforehand. 

Asking the right questions is a skill you cannot assume the interviewer to have.

So, no matter what the interviewer is asking, your answers should be able to showcase some of your most significant achievements and best using the STAR model (Situation, Task, Action, and Results).

Using the example above, if I'm the candidate, I will answer: 

For this year, it would be this deal A that would be the largest - I'm happy to share more with you in but truly if you asked me, the most signification deal to me happened last year and this is why - reason 1, 2, 3 that shows the STAR model of the ins and outs of a deal and outcome.

Hence demonstrating your achievements, whether in interviews, in your resume/cover letter is important. 

Inject some creativity and use quantifiable results and specific examples that will showcase the impact you had and your successes in previous roles.


2. Showcase your soft skills

It is also important to highlight your soft skills such as leadership/peer leadership, communication, problem-solving, and teamwork. While not impossible, soft skills are much harder to teach. It is also not as apparent to display these on the CV but it has to come across especially when you are in an interview, talking about your achievements. 

I would choose someone who has the mind to do problem identification and resolution over someone with x years of experience in y role but whose brain is disengaged. 

3. Highlight unique qualifications/Strengths

Some roles need certain certifications as a minimum qualification e.g. chargeman comm for those working in a data center. Some management roles will place high importance on having a Six Sigma cert and so forth. Be sure to emphasize these unique qualifications that set you apart from other candidates.

I noticed also some candidates have certain outstanding skills that just make them different from the rest. There’s this candidate I have known for several years now who has an exceptional ability to dig into the details but the next second he elevates the perspective to a bird’s eye view of why we sweat these details and the reason is usually a good cause.

Some are simply very, very, likable as a person…Don’t scoff, they are able to get very tough things done because the clients simply like them enough to do it. Let these come through while you are talking about your achievements, that's the best way to showcase them naturally. 

To summarize, all of these require you to practice your interviewing skills once you get the interview. 

It’s not the easiest thing to learn. But every art form, every skill worth learning, needs loads of practice, don’t they? When you practice it enough and get good at it, ideally, you should get a job pretty soon. Once you get a job, there is little reason to practice it again. So, you almost never get to a stage where you are actually an expert at interviewing.

Hence, cut yourself some slack if you think you didn't perform well enough for the past interviews, and start practicing again. Practice with an experienced mentor, with an unbiased friend, or an Exec Career Coach if all else fails!

For the latter, you are more than welcome to reach out to us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.