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How to use value propositions to excel at job interviews

By Veronica Merry


Recently, a MerryCoach reader asked a really interesting question:

“Hello MerryCoach. The effort I have been putting into my LinkedIn profile is starting to pay dividends. I have had correspondence from a recruitment specialist at a large retailer regarding opportunities there. I led him on a bit when he asked whether I would relocate (not an option), but I thought it best to continue dialogue. I would love your advice on how to proceed/prepare for this preliminary job interview”.


This question instantly got me thinking about value propositions.


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When I first learned about value propositions it was part of a marketing subject for my MBA. It’s usually used by companies to effectively market their products and services. However, I couldn’t help but think about its potential for marketing me. After all, at Business school we are taught to establish our personal brand and how important it is to communicate our brand at job interviews in order to stand out. So why not use the value proposition – one of the key marketing tools – to do this?

Using value propositions to prepare for your interview

In a nutshell, your potential employer has pains. The most obvious pain is: I need this work done and I need someone to do it. You have a gain to offer him/her. Your work experience, leadership characteristics/traits, and knowledge. Your objective in the job interview is to help your potential employer make the link that you have the gains that will alleviate his pains. 


Think like the boss

The thing I like the most about using value propositions is that it enables me to put myself in the mind of the other person. In this case - your potential employer. Rather than just doing research on the company, research the role you are applying for by figuring out what your employer’s pains are and how the role that you are applying for is going to alleviate those pains. Don’t be frightened to call the contact person before your formal job interview to gain this information. Once you have that information you can do two things:

  • Figure out if you have the skills/knowledge/experience to perform the job
  • If the answer to 1 is YES – tailor your answers to the interview questions to alleviate the employer’s pains.

How do I use it?

It can help to brainstorm the key pains you think your employer is currently experiencing. For every pain, write down how you could provide a gain to alleviate that pain. Some key questions that you may like to consider answering before you do the job interview include:

1) What sort of work do I really want to do at this company? (Think of your passion, what drives you at work and what gets you really excited to go to work).

2) What does this person need me to do? (Look at the role description and do your research on what your employer’s pains are).

3) How can I add value to this position? (Think of all your unique experiences, leadership characteristics/traits, and qualifications, and how these things can alleviate their pains).


Focusing on the work, rather than you as a person

The other thing I like about this strategy is that it depersonalises the whole job interview experience. As I said to the MerryCoach reader who asked about this topic, if you use the value proposition as your framework throughout the conversation, it will be less of a 'sell' and more of a transaction. It is a lot less nerve-wracking to talk about the work, and how you can add value to that work, than you as a person.

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Veronica Merry (MerryCoach) is passionate about helping people and organisations learn, adapt and evolve to achieve their vision. Veronica has over 17 years’ experience in designing and delivering learning programs across a broad range of disciplines including organisation development, change management, leadership and performance development, mentoring and coaching.  Contact Veronica to help you design and deliver your next organisational development program.


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