So, you’ve landed an interview for that plum position. Congratulations! Your skills and experience have filtered through to the right people and you’re on your way.
The task you are faced with now is to take that experience and personalize it – make it real. You need to give the interviewer a reason to remember you so that you will be invited back for a second interview. Spinning your experiences into a compelling narrative, building a platform that is based on your own personal experiences, you can make a case for yourself that will lead to a successful result.
Proving your claims: developing a personal narrative
It’s not about getting your foot in the door or getting noticed. You’ve already achieved that by landing the interview. Based on your CV, they are already interested in what you have to offer. Now, it’s up to you to prove what you’re made of. Being able to take your unique experiences and weave them into a narrative will help you stand out, greatly improves your chances of getting hired.
Beyond your technical ability and job experience, it’s your soft skills—including your ability to communicate, how well you work with others, how you go about solving problems, and how effectively you deal with conflict—that are of much greater interest. However, these are the very skills that can’t be quantified by a degree or a position you have held in the past. You need to find a way to verbalize these skills. A personal narrative will make your pitch more persuasive and, ultimately, may be the thing that gets you that all-important callback.
Do you know why an employer would be lucky to have you?
One of the most common behavioral questions you will face in an interview is “Why do you think you are right for this position?”
Or, you might be asked to expand on a subject, such as “Tell me about a situation when …”
Your answer, phrased well, can make all the difference, changing your standing from ‘just another candidate’ to the ‘must-hire’ candidate. Of course, you should never tell an employer they would be lucky to have you, but by effectively communicating your unique value proposition and letting them know in a practical sense how you can benefit the company, your candidate status will certainly rise.
Solving problems for the greater good
With your answers, you want to show that you can solve problems for the company – not just for yourself. It’s not just about bragging rights. Ego can get in the way of collaborative work and you need to ensure that you don’t come across as either arrogant, entitled, or holier-than-thou. For instance, being named employee of the month six months in a row is great, but what is it that you did to earn that honor? How did you make life better for the company, your coworkers, or your customers?
This is your chance to illustrate what you can bring to the organization. Being prepared with thoughtful answers that are based on relatable business situations will ensure you will have something to say when the questions come up.
For instance, here is a hypothetical example of a bad situation that was turned into a positive:
You are faced with the frustration of getting your marketing budget cut for a long-standing project. The cuts forced you to have to renegotiate several contracts for printing and digital advertising, and you actually lost a couple of vendors in the process. In the end, you were able to identify new vendors, and who in the end actually turned out much better work. The refreshed campaign gained new life, it cost less to run, and the results delivered a significantly better ROI. Everybody was happy.
That’s just one example of a success story anybody could be proud of. You’ve illustrated a problem, shown how you approached it, took the challenge in stride, and achieved better results than anybody could have expected, given the situation.
Here are four examples you might consider developing a story around:
- Mentoring new teammates
Your passion for helping new team members shows how much you care about the team as a unit.
- Your commitment to learning
The drive to better oneself is what sets high-achievers apart from their peers. Talk about what you have learned lately and what you have planned for future learning.
- Dealing with conflict
Dealing with conflict can often lead to personal animosity. When you strive to turn the conflict into a positive, it shows your commitment to the greater good. Talk about how you separate people from problems.
- Communicating new ideas effectively
Achieving buy-in from your team or the organization is a process of identifying a problem, providing the reasoning behind your solution, giving evidence that it will work, and delivering it with confidence. Talk about how you were able to get buy-in using these steps.
In conclusion, there are many ways in which you can weave a compelling narrative from your experiences, but the most important thing is that you are prepared to speak up and provide compelling evidence about your accomplishments when asked.
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