Shine in Your Next Interview by Sharing Your DATA

Have you ever finished an interview and realized you forgot to mention a crucial qualification? Or realized that you forgot to tell them about your motivation to do the job? Or an essential attribute or accomplishment?

Here’s an easy way to organize the essential points you want to get across in any job interview. Tell them your DATA—your Desire, Abilities, Traits, and Accomplishments—and you’ll have delivered the critical elements of what makes you a great candidate.


A standard question in any interview is, “Why do you want to work here?” or “What motivates you?” This is a great time to tell them about your desire.

Do your research and prepare a statement about how their values or mission align with yours, and how this opportunity is a fit for your career. Make your answer specific to the company and the role you are being considered for.

You can answer this interview question with a short statement about your genuine desire to do this job. Your natural enthusiasm will be a compelling response to the “why us?” question about your desire.


What abilities do you have that will make you a strong contributor?

Part of preparing for a job interview is being able to succinctly articulate your ability to solve problems by applying your technical skills and your functional abilities. Carefully research the position you are interviewing for and talk about the abilities that relate most directly to the job.

It might be analytical skills, customer service skills, writing, implementing programs, legal or technical specifications, leading meetings, or teaching others. Whatever you chose the highlight, relate it to the job at hand and be ready to tell them specifics about why you have the ability to do the job.

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This is the question about fit with the company. What personal traits do you bring that will enable you to do this job well?

Traits might be your humor, your compassion, or that you are orderly, practical, self-motivated, calm, enjoy serving others, tactful, optimistic, determined, or more.

Think about your personality and what it is about you that will fit with the task of the job, with the culture of the company and the team you are joining. The Strengths Finder can help you identify your traits.


What have you actually accomplished? Employers want to know not just what you have been tasked with, but also what you achieved. What effect did you have on your department or company? Think about a time that you impacted your company; did you impact money, quantity, quality, or time?

A way to organize your thoughts about your accomplishments is to think of a situation, problem or task you encountered, the action you took to solve the situation, and the result your actions had on the company. Did you ever solve a problem at work? What action did you take to solve it and what result did it generate?

Ask yourself, “So what?” any time you describe a work activity. What benefit did the company get from your action?

It is much more powerful to tell the hiring manager, not just what tasks you’ve been assigned, but also what you accomplished by performing those tasks. Have you ever improved something? Reduced time or costs? Boosted sales? Increased customer satisfaction? Initiated a successful program? Streamlined or driven efficiencies? These are the types of accomplishments that will make an impression on your hiring manager. Remember, past success is a predictor of future success.

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Here is a way to organize and prepare for your next interview. Ask yourself:

  • Desire: What do I really want?
  • Abilities: What can I do and am really good at?
  • Traits: What kind of personal qualities do I bring to my work?
  • Accomplishments: What results have I delivered?

Articulate clear answers to these questions and leave them with your DATA next time you interview. A career coach can help you prepare your DATA and shine in your next interview.