“And did I mention I went to Harvard…?”
You’ve probably heard the running joke about people from Ivy League schools touting their accomplishments. And while it’s probably not true of most graduates, no one wants to be “that person.”
On a job interview, you want to highlight your accomplishments in a tasteful way, balancing your desire to inform the interviewer without coming off as a braggart.
Here are a few ways to discuss your certifications during an interview tastefully.
Wait for the interviewer to bring it up
If you really want to appear humble, wait for the interviewer to bring up your certification. If you’ve listed it as one of the skills on your resume, there’s a good chance they saw. Bringing up your certification too early or too often may seem over-confident or desperate.
Try waiting for the interviewer to ask about your certification. If it’s a big one, you can bet they will — even if it’s simply to ask if you’ve been certified. If the interview is more than half over and they still haven’t mentioned it, you can use the other tips outlined here to mention your certification tactfully.
Mention it in an answer
If your interviewer asks you a question where you can naturally bring up your certification, this is a good time. For example, if your interviewer asks about a time when your hard work and diligence paid off, you can talk about the process of getting certified. Now, this is a great answer for anyone who doesn’t have a ton of work experience. But just be sure the certification is impressive enough.
Bring it up once
Unless there’s a really good reason, you’re going to want to avoid bringing up your certification more than once. If you can find a way to naturally work it into a conversation, that will help communicate your skills without overdoing it.
If you use your certification as an answer to every question, your interviewer is likely to think you’re avoiding talking about real-world job experience. And that’s not a good thing.
Assess its relevance
There are some things we put on our resume that help explain who we are as people. Volunteer experience is one such example. But they aren’t always relevant as talking points in an interview — unless you can find a way to tactfully connect them.
Before you take it upon yourself to bring up your certification, assess whether it’s truly relevant to the conversation. If it’s irrelevant, you may be better served spending your limited time talking about something else. Similarly, if the certification is required for the job, it may not be worth mentioning. For example, if you’re applying for a job as a certified public accountant, it may be overkill to bring up your CPA certification in an interview. Adding it to your resume may be enough.
On the other hand, if you’re applying for a job as a registered nurse, certifications in your field are going to be extremely relevant. There are many certifications you can have that will help designate your field of expertise, and your employer will want to know all about them.
Not every certification should be discussed in an interview, but you’ll want to tactfully mention anything that can set you apart from other job applicants. Mention it subtly, and if your interviewer is interested, he or she will ask questions.