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

2 thoughts on “Tell the right experience in the Interview-not a story

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