One powerful interviewing secret involves understanding the subtle yet distinct difference between features and benefits.

The current market challenges every job seeker to further refine his or her interviewing skills in order to best showcase their value to potential employers. The good news is that everyone can learn the secret to interviewing success. One powerful secret involves understanding the subtle yet distinct difference between features and benefits.

What is a feature? In this instance, a feature is best defined as one fact about a person, place, or thing. For instance, consider customers at a local furniture store. A sales associate might tell an interested shopper that a dining room table has a hard surface. Hard surface is a feature, a fact. This fact is interesting, but the shopper is unlikely to buy the product unless the associate tells the consumer what the actual benefit is in his or her own life.

To make this connection, the sales person might say, "The table has a durable surface. This means that you and family can eat dinner on it. Your children can also do their homework or play games at the table." Suddenly, because the associate explained the benefit, the consumer knows exactly how the purchase of this table will positively impact life at home.

This same sales technique works well in an interview setting. It's not enough that an interviewee share his or her work history or educational background with a potential employer. These things are just facts features of the candidate's life. Effective job seekers go further, taking the facts and demonstrating their benefit to the company or organization.

In other words, make your skills meaningful to an interviewer. Show them how your specific features, your qualifications, benefit the organization. Make the connection from abstract feature to actual benefit. Tell the recruiter, "I attended a class in April at Ohio State University which provided the most up-to-date information on quality assurance. This means that I can effectively lead a team through the process, thereby, reducing the number of customer complaints and increasing overall revenue."

Do you see how that sample response took the interviewer smoothly from basic feature to overall benefit? The interviewee didn't simply state that he or she attended a class. He or she told the interviewer how that class, that knowledge, would positively impact the company's bottom line.

The benefit might seem obvious to you but, trust me, job seekers often have to connect the dots for potential employers. Remember, employers often have numerous responsibilities beside recruitment. They may have other priorities on their minds. But, obvious or not, the candidate who makes their skills meaningful to the recruiter is going to stand out.

For more interviewing and job seeking tips, contact New Directions Career Center (NDCC), a non-profit, United Way agency at (614) 849-0028, extension 100. NDCC staffs licensed career counselors as well as a placement specialist to assist clients in professional as well as educational development. Scholarships are available for all classes and workshops. NDCC assists individuals regardless of their ability to pay.