When I interview a candidate to determine if they are the right fit for a role and firm, I am listening to hear their story. This includes how they describe what they are excited to bring to this new role and why they are thinking of leaving their current position. It still surprises me when even senior professionals who have interviewed many times are not able to tell their stories in a clear and compelling way. What differentiates those who can from those who can’t comes down to this:
- There is no negativity associated with the place or people they have worked with. Instead of saying their boss is incompetent or the firm has no strategic vision, they say “I am grateful for all I’ve leaned but think it’s time for a new challenge.” Putting things in the positive is more effective because it is so much more desirable to work with people who have a positive attitude than a negative one!
- They provide specifics as to what skills and competencies they are bringing. They are able to paint clear pictures of what they have done in the past and how that will enable them to add value to the role. They don’t speak in generalities like “I’ve done it all and no challenge is too big for me.” They share compelling narratives that are easy to grasp and extrapolate to the role they are interviewing for. They might say “I have developed strong project management skills and know how to break a large project like the website re-launch I managed into doable action steps with a realistic time-line. I also know how to collaborate with internal departments and external vendors to ensure everyone is working towards the same goals.”
- Their story provides a strong sense of what motivates them and that they know how to get things done. For example, they share stories of how they were able to launch new initiatives from start to finish or develop best practices. As they tell their story I can visualize the steps they took and the results they achieved. I leave those conversations feeling that the professional is still passionate about their work and wants to leave firms better than they found them! They are focused on contribution, not just what’s in it for them.
We all have a compelling story to tell. I encourage you to think about your “story” and maybe share it with a mentor or trusted advisor to see if it resonates.