What’s your Theme?


The DISC model of behavior and personality types divides personalities into two categories:  those who focus on people, and those who focus on tasks or systems.  You may intuitively know which type you are.  The question is, do you know how to use it effectively in an interview?

If you’re outgoing and extroverted and you focus on people, you’re probably the “I” in DISC.  “I” stands for the characteristics of this group, often described as Influencers.  The “I” also stands for their behavior: inspiring and interactive.  These are the “people people;” the ones who make charismatic salespeople, speakers and who do well in social jobs like PR that require a lot of interaction.

If you’re extroverted and focused on systems and problem solving, you might be a “D.” “D” stands for Dominant, and these bottom liners are often found in the executive suite.  The “D” also stands for decisive and directive, so these are definitely take charge leaders.

If you’re inclined to introversion and focused on people, you’re the “S” type.  “S” stands for steady, stable and supportive.  These are the helpers, the good listeners who make great counselors or support staff.

If you’re introverted and system or task-based, you’re probably a “C.”  “C” stands for Conscientious, compliant and cautious.  These are the researchers, the investigators, and the auditors of the world.  They proceed carefully and like to have all the facts before they state a conclusion.

Many of us identify with more than one type, of course, and it’s usually based on the extraversion / introversion part of the equation.  (I tend toward D and I, myself.)  Learning to talk about your strengths in an interview is a skill worth mastering.  With this method, you can develop a theme in an interview and help the recruiter get to know you better in a short time.

You can start with your theme when the interviewer opens with “Tell me about yourself.”  As you describe your education and early training, for instance, you can add phrases like: “Because I’ve always been drawn to data and complex subjects, I majored in engineering.” Or, “I was always drawn to the military because I wanted to gain leadership skills.  I knew I wanted to lead large organizations in the future.”

As you describe your leadership style, you can build on your theme. “As I mentioned before, to me the key to building a great team is listening.  I want my staff to feel like their ideas play an important part in developing the plan.” Or, “I’m a cheerleader, although now I don’t actually carry a megaphone, like I did in college.  Today, I do my cheerleading during site visits; I visit every division at least once a quarter and I deliver the top sales awards personally.”

Your approach to problem solving becomes part of your theme.  “I believe in dealing with issues directly and quickly.  I never shirk from making the tough decisions.  In our fast paced industry, it gives us an edge to have the confidence to act quickly on imperfect data.”  Or, “I never jump to conclusions.   My staff knows that I will take my time to make sure I have the information I need and that I’ve checked it twice before I make a decision.”

Many jobseekers make the mistake of trying to be all things to all people.  They hesitate to own a single style for fear that they won’t be a good fit for the job. If you know your strengths, and you know that they’re a good fit for your occupation, you should develop several ways of talking about them in the interview.  (If your strengths are not a good fit for the occupation, we have another issue on our hands; no amount of great presentation can hide a bad match.)

Work on developing several statements that showcase your strengths in these areas:

  • Problem solving
  • Communication style
  • Crisis management
  • Delegation and leadership

Find some ideas for expressing your style here:

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One thought on “What’s your Theme?

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