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Skip the Humblebrag in Your Next Interview and Get to the Facts

Bragging is part of the interview process. After all, you’re trying to sell yourself to land the job. However, don’t attempt to disguise your boosting as modesty. Skip the humblebrag and get to the facts.

What Is A Humblebrag?

Humblebrags start as either a self-critical statement or a complaint. Yet, their true purpose is to draw attention to admirable qualities or achievements. Examples include:

Self-Critical Humblebrag: I didn’t even bother to study, so I can’t believe I got a 100% on that test.

Complaint Humblebrag: Car shopping is exhausting, and I still can’t decide between the Mercedes or the BMW.

Why Is Humblebragging a Bad Strategy?

On the surface, humblebragging seems like a smart idea. Rather than outright boosting, you’re downplaying your bragging by speaking poorly about yourself or complaining. The problem is humblebragging comes off as insincere. In fact, you probably felt annoyed when you read the examples above. And research supports this theory. A recent study found, “Humblebraggers were rated less likable than those who straightforwardly brag — or even those who simply complain.” And this held true for interviews too. Study participants were more interested in hiring candidates who gave straight answers versus those who humblebragged.

How Can Avoid the Humblebrag in Your Next Interview?

The easiest place to humblebrag in an interview is the dreaded “What is your greatest weakness?” question. Common responses often include, “I’m such a hard worker that I usually end up staying late.” or “I can’t seem to say ‘No’ to anyone, so people over-rely on me for favors.” Are you rolling your eyes? Guess what? So is the hiring manager. A better approach is to mention a true weakness (although preferably one not critical to the job). Then, show how you are trying to overcome this weakness. For example, you could say, “I tend to procrastinate on larger projects, so I’ve been practicing productivity hacks like the ten-minute rule to keep myself focused.”

In addition, it’s tempting to resort to humblebragging at other points in the interview. For instance, you may say, “Even though I always worked hard, I was surprised by my high customer satisfaction ratings.” Yup. That’s a humblebrag. A better response would be, “I tried to make sure all of my customers walked away happy. I believe my 95% customer satisfaction rating reflected my efforts.” In the second example, you are letting numbers (not vague comments like “worked hard”) do the talking. Therefore, you don’t need to act “surprised.” Plus, when you back your statements up with facts, it seems less like bragging. Because in the end, it’s hard to argue with data.

Are You Searching for More Interview Tips?

Halpin Staffing Services publishes weekly posts on topics ranging from boosting your confidence before an interview to turning around an interview that’s going poorly. And if you’re still struggling to land a job in Southeastern Wisconsin or Northeastern Illinois, we’d be happy to help. Our recruiters will match you with best-fit positions AND guide you through the interview process. Browse all our available openings and discover your next opportunity today!

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