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Interview Preparation

Demonstrating That You're a Self-Starter at Work

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated August 5, 2021

Guide Overview

What does it mean to be a self-starter?How to demonstrate that you're a self-starter at workHow to show that you're a self-starter during an interview

Guide Overview

How to show that you're a self-starter

Whether you're applying for work or looking to advance your career with your current company, it's important that you exemplify certain traits and soft skills. Employers value self-starters and they actively seek out candidates or staff members that possess this quality because it usually signals an employee that is ambitious and efficient. Keep reading to discover what exactly a self-starter is, the steps you can take to demonstrate that you are one in your current role, and how to show that you're a self-starter during an interview.

What does it mean to be a self-starter?

A self-starter is a professional who is able to take initiative, begin projects on their own, and work with little to no supervision. These individuals can be found in any industry and career level, but it is usually an ability that is quickly recognized by management, often resulting in career advancement. Generally, self-starters are:

  • Resilient: Self-starters are typically able to easily adapt to changes in their role, environment, and processes. They can easily move past obstacles by finding alternative solutions that allow them to accomplish their goals, and they regularly revise their methods to maximize their efficiency.
  • Ambitious: A self-starter is usually incredibly driven and thrives on continually setting and accomplishing objectives. They constantly push themselves and their team members by setting higher, yet still realistic and achievable, goals.
  • Confident: These professionals often trust their intuition in the workplace, allowing them to act deliberately without needing time for contemplation or self-doubt for certain tasks.
  • Motivated: Self-starters are usually compelled and committed to taking action on their own, meaning they rarely need prompting from colleagues or supervisors to complete their work.

How to demonstrate that you're a self-starter at work

By showing that you’re a self-starter, you can set yourself apart from your colleagues and increase the chances of getting a raise or a promotion. Here are some ways that you can demonstrate that you’re a self-starter in your current role:

  1. Volunteer for new or difficult tasks. Self-starters aren’t afraid of a challenge and they continuously test their limits. When you take initiative and tackle a new challenge, it shows your supervisors that you are confident, committed to self-improvement, and hungry for more experience and professional development. You can demonstrate your willingness to embrace new challenges by actively searching for chances to try new tasks.
  2. Embrace discomfort. Employees that are motivated and ambitious understand that their development depends on occasional discomfort. Whether it’s a larger workload, the responsibility of training new team members, or leading a new project, working past your discomfort shows your supervisors that you’re adaptable and resilient.
  3. Advance your goals. A self-starter constantly pushes themselves and their team by setting higher expectations. To do this, you can frequently review your goals so that you can assess your progress and identify areas for improvement. Once you start to regularly meet your current goals, push yourself a bit further to achieve higher objectives or boost your productivity.
  4. Focus on favorable outcomes. Instead of focusing on doubts or obstacles, self-starters track their achievements. Concentrating on your successes not only increases your self-assurance, but it also boosts your proficiency at any task you tackle. To concentrate on your successes, you can try breaking your larger goals into smaller, more manageable objectives.
  5. Promote collaboration. Even though self-starters, by definition, specialize in self-motivation, they often use this enthusiasm to inspire their team members. By encouraging collaboration, you can enable your team to accomplish more collectively, which could inspire you to achieve more on your own. To encourage teamwork, place focus on sharing strategies and ideas as well as setting goals together as a group.
  6. Find solutions to problems. Employers typically value employees that don’t just recognize areas for improvement, but go a step further to develop solutions to the issues. This demonstrates that you are a self-starter because it shows your supervisor that you are actively looking for ways to make the company more productive, effective, and efficient.
  7. Take risks. Self-starters embrace innovation and exploring the unknown, which often means that they develop and implement cutting-edge solutions. Though they still carefully analyze information, they aren’t afraid to take calculated risks or even failure. To demonstrate your willingness to take risks, you can look for a solution to a problem that is bold and provides benefits that extend past the normal approach. Once you’ve discovered a plausible solution, create a list of pros and cons and present it to your supervisor.

How to show that you're a self-starter during an interview

If you really want to impress employers during a job interview, it’s important that you prepare for commonly asked questions or topics of conversation. Depending on the position you’re interviewing for, the employer could try to evaluate whether you’re a self-starter through pointed questions or ask you if you are one flat out. Either way, providing specific examples to demonstrate your work ethic can be incredibly beneficial. Here are a few examples of skills that a self-starter possesses and how you could demonstrate them during your interview:

  • Achieving goals: A great way to communicate your ambition and self-motivation is by emphasizing your proactive approach to setting and reaching goals. To do this, you can discuss a time when you set ambitious objectives and then pushed yourself to accomplish them.
  • Solving problems: You can demonstrate your qualities as a self-starter by highlighting your decisiveness and problem-solving skills. It can be helpful to share a specific instance when you identified an issue and developed an effective solution.
  • Taking risks: Self-starters aren’t afraid of risks or new challenges. To demonstrate your ability to embrace the unknown, you can detail an instance when you took a risk at work and it paid off.
  • Leading others: Your leadership skills are particularly important when applying for a management or an executive position. You can establish yourself as an innovative leader by talking about your ability to motivate yourself and others. Providing a specific example from a past role where you led and inspired a team can be particularly beneficial when demonstrating this trait.

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