Tell the right experience in the Interview-not a story

I have a friend who has a son that loves to tell stories. It’s like he saves them up and when he sees someone, anyone, he unleashes. I can see him and ask him how his day is going and he will say, “Do you know that train can’t travel faster that 78 miles an hour.” Even if I stop him to change the subject he will continue on his thought, focused on getting his message out.

I think many times we are guilty of similar thinking when we relate experiences in an interview. We have a story and we feel the story( ie experience) maybe the thing that will help us win the interview.

Have you ever heard the questions:

“Tell me about a time that you …”

“Describe a time that you had to deal with …. . How did you handle this experience?

I think we all have had a time when we have been asked to relate from our own personal work experience an instance that help the interviewer get a glimpse, albeit a small one, of our work character

When I meet with people I like to prepare them for the interview. I like to tell them about the hiring manager and what potential questions he/she may ask. One of the big things I do is talk to people about making sure that the when they talk about themselves that they tell experiences that relate to position and not to tell a story.

Much like my friends six year old child who has a story to tell, we need to make sure the answer matches the question. I often see times when the manager has to stop the interview because of a hard break for a meeting or another interview. The candidates can come away feeling poorly about the interview because they did not feel they showcased their talents to the best of their abilities.

I like to make sure that I help my candidates differentiate themselves against the competition. You always want to interview well. You never know who knows who or who moves to another company. The world is smaller than you think. It is tough to accept a job offer you never receive.

I like to tell me candidates to come up with several stories about the position and to think them through before they interview. That way they do not have to sit and feel awkward in front of the hiring manager not knowing what to say. I want to give a little checklist to use in sharing your experience.

1. Decide before the interview what are some past experience that you could possibly use to showcase your abilities.

2. Make sure the experience is relevant to the position.

3. Tie the experience back into the position.  Tell the interviewer why that experience is a benefit for him/her.

If you fail to relate the experience back to the position the interviewer may not pick up on the benefit you bring and you have reduced your experience to a less meaningful story. Never tell a story. Save stroy telling  for camping on Friday nights, not interviewing for a position with ten of thousands of dollars on the line.

Just a few of my thoughts…

Matt Cheek

Account Manager in the Recruiting Industry

First Impressions – Interviewing

Eminem stated in his song “Lose yourself”

Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted-One moment
Would you capture it or just let it slip?

You walk into the office you straighten your tie, brush out your dress with your hands. You feel the blood start to heat up on the back of your neck. The palms of your hands start to sweat. You wipe them on your trousers. You check you breath, shoes, shirt and smile. You always smile.  Are you ready? Bam here it goes. My name is ….. I am here for an interview….

We want people to accept us. We like to be chosen. We all feel nervous.  We are nervous because we have heard that most first impressions are made within the first 90 seconds.  You know what you can do in 90 seconds. I can make one can of Easy Mac mac and cheese. I can run 1/4 mile ( if I am lucky).  Have 1 conversation.  Watch 1 1/2  laps in a 500 lap Nascar race.  2 games of hide and seek with my 2-year-old.

So in 90 seconds people will start to make preliminary decisions on your ability to work and succeed at their company. Wow… no pressure. So what do you do? How do you act? Do you seem energetic and outgoing but not too outgoing so that you don’t seem needy, but you really need and want the job? How much to you smile? How little do you smile?

I have the answer. Just kidding . I wish I did. No one has THE answer. Each interview is different. Each interview will be different. The question are you willing to capture the moment and not let it slip by.

YOU CAN DO IT!!!. They brought you in to interview you. I do not know many people who interview people just to waste your time and theirs. Time is too precious to waste it. You may not be the right fit but they WANT you there to verify and check to see there could be a potential match. You have to believe in yourself. If you believe yourself you will be surprised how many other people will as well.

I have found people with an offer in hand tend to interview better. Why? I think they are confident  and tend to be more comfortable in showcasing their skills.

First impressions are important but they are not the last word. You still need to have the knowledge, skill or ability. If you need to better your first impressions work in front of the mirror. Coach Sorich my football coach used to say practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice make perfect. If you need help work on your first impressions. Work on your smile, your 30 second introduction, handshake or whatever.

Good luck, by luck I mean where preparation meets opportunity.

Matt Cheek

Account Manager in the Recruiting Industry


Resume are so subjective. Each individual has different thoughts and feelings about how to format resumes and what is pertinent information to include. I have heard that people look at a resume anywhere from 7 – 20 seconds. In some cases companies have software that go through the resume and looks for key words before it even hits the database for a hiring manager looks at the resume.

What constitutes a good resume? I have three things that I feel need to be in a resume.

1. Summary – If I didn’t have time to look at your resume and all the time I had was 7 seconds and I read your summary would I get a some pertinent information that would force me to read further. I like 5-7 bullet points that tell me who you are, then in the resume you build your case for putting those bullet points up front.

2. Be Specific – Tell me what you have achieved. Tell me what you worked on. I had a candidate come in to prepare for an interview and she kept  telling me what “we” did or achieved. Since the company was not hiring “we” I wanted to make sure she talked to her strengths and achievements.  She is the one they care about.

It is acceptable to improve your resume for each position. Find out as much about the position before you submit your resume. Talk to the recruiter you are working with, call the company and talk to someone in the department. Perhaps you can find them on Linkedin. It does not hurt to try.

3. Be truthful – Always put your actual experience on your resume.  I know this is silly but you would be surprised. Better to not get the interview then get the interview and for them to think poorly of your character. Even in Atlanta with it’s 4 million people I have seen people  excluded from interviewing at companies because they were not truthful at an interview and the manager moved on to another company and the manager remembered the resume.

Those are my initial thoughts on resumes. Let me know your thoughts or have any other points.


Mattie Matt

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