Self-deprecation. It’s a core Australian value. When it comes to our strengths and achievements, we’re just not accustomed to the idea of putting ourselves forward.

So it’s little wonder that so many of us are ill-prepared for the interview situation, because that’s the one time in our life when standing up and saying ‘I’m awesome’ is a good thing… up to a point.

Now, the fundamental point in recruitment is that you need to SHOW the employer/recruiter what makes you the most suitable candidate for this job, not just TELL them. So you’re not just going to walk in and boast loudly about how great you are. You’re going to come armed with relevant examples that you’ve prepared during your research for this interview.

One question I like to ask every candidate is “I’ve had a hundred applications for this job (at least). What makes you special?” Critically, there’s no ‘right’ answer. All I’m looking for is a little self-awareness from you. Because there IS something about you that makes you special. Maybe you’re smart. Maybe you’re great with people. Maybe you think outside the box. Maybe you have great attention to detail. And maybe (rarely), you have the ability to think beyond today to the challenges and opportunities still to come.

It doesn’t matter who you are or what your background. Each of you reading this article DOES have something that makes you special, a different set of stripes so that I can tell you apart from the herd.

A key point is that you don’t have to wait for the employer to ask the question. The interview is your opportunity to stand out from the crowd. You are ALLOWED to stand up (metaphorically) and say: “These are the reasons that I want to work for you, and THESE are the reasons why I think that I’m the best candidate for the job.”

So if you want to be successful in an interview, do your thorough preparation. Go into the interview confident (not arrogant). Drop your natural Australian humility, and show the interviewer what makes you special.


I publish a (semi) regular column on the DCS Technical website and facebook page, and various social media. The RACI Young Chemists group has also created a YouTube channel for career advice videos. Get involved. Your network is your greatest opportunity to advance your career.