Recruiters and employers might ask you to describe yourself to assess your strengths and weaknesses during a job interview.

They can use different ways to ask this type of question:

How do you view yourself? Whom would you compare yourself to? And others like these.

How you respond to this question allows them to see how you perceive yourself.

But be aware, the reason I bring this up is that many people are inclined to see themselves very differently than others see them. It is a natural tendency to just assume that the perception of others is similar to our own. But in reality this is seldom the case because we all see life through our own unique emotional filters.

So, it can be very enlightening to step back and try to analyze yourself from a “third person” perspective.

The ability to intuit how people see us is what enables us to authentically connect to others and to reap the deep satisfaction that comes with those ties.

For example, people who have learned to know and regulate their emotions are in a much better position to know what others think of them, says Carroll Izard, professor of psychology at the University of Delaware: “They are able to detect emotions on others’ faces and to feel empathy.” If you are either overwhelmed with feelings or unable to express them at all, it becomes difficult to interpret someone else’s response to you. Learning to give concrete expression to your feelings and to calm yourself in highly charged moments will give you a much better grip on your own and others’ internal states.

Those with personalities that feed the accuracy of their metaperceptions are handsomely rewarded. “The more accurate you are about how others perceive you, the better you fare socially,” says Mark Leary, professor of psychology at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Leary also explain that your ideas about what others think of you hinge on your self-concept — your own beliefs about who you are. “You filter the cues that you get from others through your self-concept.”

Here are 5 steps to improve self-perception and be successful at your interview:

1) Ask a friend to engage in reflective listening

Reflective listening is a technique that was first developed by Carl Rogers. It involves communicating the speaker’s underlying emotions or underlying intent. The purpose of rephrasing or restating what the listener believes the speaker is trying to communicate is to provide opportunity for clarification. This clarification is beneficial both to the listener and speaker. Hearing our message repeated back to us allows us the opportunity to listen to ourselves and to improve the self-awareness of our emotions and about the message we are sharing with others.

Your friend needn’t be trained Rogerian therapists; you simply need to ask them to listen and paraphrase the message and identify underlying emotion, without judgement or their own opinion about the subject.

You’ll be surprised how much better you understand yourself and your feelings by the end of the activity.

2) Highlight your greatest strengths

After a self-reflection you can start talking about some of your strenghts more related to the qualifications for the job.

To be more interesting when you discuss your strenghts that are important for the job, you may also include some other interesting personal qualities that are not directly related to the position. It will provide an authentic feel to your speech and then you can explain how that strength connects to your way to work.

3) Be prepared about your weaknesses

It’s also important to be prepared to respond about some of your weaknesses, if you have shown only a positive view of yourself. In this case try to mention a weakness that won’t directly hinder the outcome of the interview. So mention one that is not central to the job or one that you’ve worked on to the point that it is no longer actually a weakness. For example, you might mention that you have worked on your communication skills over the past few years and you can now do presentations more confidently to engage clients in depth.

4) Tell compelling stories

It could be useful to cite examples of whatever qualities that you mention, referencing situations where you applied that strength and the impact which you had.

Strive to present yourself as an active character, one who faces problems, makes decisions, acts and succeeds.

For example, if you say you are a people-oriented person, you can mention a particular case in which you handled a stressful situation with a prospect, and how your efforts helped you land a new client.

5) Compare yourself to inspiring people

To determine more clearly how you view yourself, recruiters and employers might ask you to compare yourself to someone else.

In this case try to be modest and avoid to compare yourself to famous figures in business, science or ancient history.

A right approach can be to mention an inspiring person near to you such us a parent, a teacher or a mentor. Then try to point out some positive, common quality that makes you similar, and that matches the job qualifications. For example, you might say “I’m very similar to my grandfather; he was a great communicator and pubblic speaker who instilled in me my sense of speaking and listening and my passion for training.”

By doing this the outcome should be to arrive at an answer that presents you in a positive light, but is at the same time authentic and humble.

Originally published at