Your University Name    the Competitive Edge

with Taura Prosek

The interview is the sales opportunity that you've been waiting for to truly differentiate yourself from other candidates in ways that a resume cannot. I will share with you tips and strategies to follow when preparing for an interview performance that will help make yourself memorable, establish trust and confidence, stand out from the competition and strongly communicate your value to the interviewer.

The number one question for each interview is “Why should I Hire You?

This question comes in a variety of forms:

  • Why are you qualified?
  • Why do you think you are the best candidate?
  • What makes you uniquely qualified for this job?
Why You? -- is the most important question because it offers you the opportunity to really differentiate yourself by strongly communicating your value to the role and organization.

Your Goal: Communicate your Value Proposition with 2 or 3 points Backed up by Evidence

Techniques on how to show this convincingly:
  1. If the role is new to an organization, your research will lead you to the knowledge that the employee needs to be comfortable and successful working in a situation of ambiguity. One of the attributes that you may choose to provide in your response may be something like... “I am the best candidate for this role because of my experience in successfully operating in situations of ambiguity based on my time as a business analyst, which was a newly created position at ABC Corporation back in 2012. In this environment, I was able to..."

    In your Value Proposition, you clearly state that one of your unique skills that you bring to this position is something that will positively impact the organization.

    As part of your brand:
    • It's true
    • Unique about you
    • Desired by the employer

  2. Tell me about yourself - a challenging question because the interviewer is looking to see if you're the right fit for this job, company, culture and their team.

    Where you grew up or where your first job as a teenager, might be of interest to them but when they ask you this question, you need to remember this is an interview and you are selling yourself. They already have your relevant job history in your resume.

    Determine what is relevant for this interview and start your story there. If they want to probe back to their interest, they will.

Once you've properly prepared yourself to sell yourself, it's important to prepare the stories that will be utilized when asked about any of the interview questions.

Tell your Story

  1. Take an inventory of the qualities that will be invaluable to company.
  2. Prepare your accomplishments or evidence of these qualities.
Inventory of Qualities:
  1. Technical Competencies
  2. Professional Competencies
  3. Values
Technical or Functional Competencies - Areas of Expertise


Marketing = broad field
  • Areas of Expertise:
    • Market Research
    • Data Analytics
    • Voice of Customer
    • Social Media
    • Search Engine Optimization

  • Foreign Languages or Technical Skills = software package expertise
Your Goal: Ensure that your identified competency align with the role you're interested in

Professional Competencies - Personal Effectiveness and Leadership Oriented Skills. These can easily be pulled out from a job description by reviewing the responsibilities outlined and other preferred qualifications.

  • Conflict Management
  • Negotiation
  • Change Management
  • Project Management
  • Presentation
  • Communication
  • Program Management
  • People Management
  • Global...
Values - Attributes for the Role. These can be researched from the company website or asked from employees or former employees of the organization; commonly communicated in the job description

  • Team Player
  • Innovative
  • Critical Thinker
  • Strategic Mindset
  • Analytical
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Initiative
Don't worry if the words you used are behaviors, competencies, values, skills or attributes. Just add them to the list and think of how you'll sell yourself around them beyond what your resume reports.

Once you've identified your Technical Competencies, Professional Competencies and Values desired for the role, it's time to prepare your accomplishments that will allow you to best market yourself to the interviewer.

You refer to these accomplishments as stories because in an interview you're telling stories that have a beginning, middle and end.

Prepare 10-12 stories and you're ready.

Interview Preparation Worksheet
  • State what you did
  • Explain why you did it
  • Describe how you did it
  • Define the results compared to the goal
  • Identify the longer-term impact of your actions
Scenario: Interviewer asking a candidate a question about a goal they have accomplished to see if the candidate has initiative and the ability to be a self-starter. "Tell me about a goal you've set for yourself that you are particularly proud of."

  • "I set a goal to complete an Ironman by the age of 26 and I accomplished this last year which I'm pretty proud of."
  • "I was a competitive high school athlete but was not good enough to play college ball. As I was approaching my college graduation..."
Your answer may show that you are:
  • Strategic Thinker
  • Planner
  • Organized
  • Community Minded
  • Determined
  • Goal Oriented
  • Team Player
If you have the story fleshed out in the worksheet, you won't leave any cards on the table.

This happens when you walk out of the interview and think to yourself, "Oh, I forgot to mention that I overcame a hurdle. I mean that I beat the goal I set for myself."

The Interview Preparation Worksheet

Once you've completed the worksheet, it's time to test it.

Sample Questions:
  • What is an accomplishment you've achieved that you are particularly proud of?
  • When is a time you worked on a team that wasn't functioning properly and how did you manage through it?
  • Tell me about a time when you had conflicting priorities and how you managed expectations.
Having 10 stories prepared allows you to draw from a library of experiences so you don't go back to the same story over and over again. You'll realize that the same story can be used for multiple questions at times.

Ironman Story - could be used to describe the goal you've set, to talk about a time when you had conflicting priorities or to discuss a time when you had to overcome a challenge like an injury.

***This emphasizes why it's important to have depth in your stories/examples.

Here are Interview Preparation Strategies you can follow to Best Market Yourself and articulate why you're the top candidate for the job:
  1. Answer the question: "Why should I hire you?" in a customized manner focused on the value you have to offer, sharing those 2-3 key points and evidence stories. Practice out loud and record yourself over and over until you no longer sound rehearsed.
  2. Research and prepare around 10 additional "stories" that align with the competencies you've identified to be most important for the employer.
  3. Preparing and practicing for your next interview will give you the confidence needed to effectively answer the question, Why You?

Expert BIO
with Taura Prosek

Taura Prosek is Director of Career Management for Evening & Executive MBA Programs at the Wisconsin School of Business. She is responsible for providing career services for MBA students and alumni, which consists of one to one coaching, workshops, speaker events, networking events, and virtual career offerings. Taura joined the UW-Madison in 2013 after spending over 20 years in the corporate sector, including 6 years in various recruitment and talent management roles. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1993 and her Master’s degree from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in 2000.