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3 Tips to an Interview that Lands the Job with Storytelling

by Carol Barash, PhD, on Feb 2, 2016 4:30:00 PM

Are you looking for a career that connects your passions and experience with a solid paycheck? Imagine your job search from the perspective of different people you’ll encounter at the business or nonprofit where you want to work next. First there is human resources (the part of the company responsible for hiring and firing), then a manager in the department where you want to work, and finally the person to whom you’ll report.

Let’s consider these people in the order they encounter you and your story in your resume and cover letter:

The HR Director is asking, first, “Is this person qualified?” To make it through this first step, you must...

  • Demonstrate that you have the specific skills and experience required for the job by including the keywords from the job description in your resume, cover letter and online application.
  • If you have the extra skills, that’s great, but first make sure you have covered the key job requirements with examples from prior work experience (including internships and volunteer roles).

In a large company, this first pass will almost certainly be done at least in part by a computer, so include the right search terms and front load the most important information at the top of your resume.

If you are among the applicants most qualified for the position, you will move on to compete against people who are similarly qualified. How can you distinguish yourself from other candidates who can all “do the job” to someone who gets the interview?

The Department Manager is looking for someone who has the specific knowledge, experience and temperament to help achieve the team’s goals.

  • Research both the company and the role and show how you can support the specific outcomes your new department leader is working to achieve.
  • Show how you made a difference in your previous roles. Use the bullets of your resume to tell SMART stories, moments when you took Specific Measurable Actions with Results over Time.
  • If you haven’t done exactly what the job requires (i.e., you haven’t held that title before), you must demonstrate that you have skills that are comparable and transferable to the new role.

Assuming you match the job requirements and reveal yourself as someone who can help to achieve the company’s goals, you’ll move on to an interview--with the person you report to or someone on their team. Along with your qualifications, the person you’ll report to is looking for a temperamental fit with the job as well as the team. “Is this someone who can work with us?” is a question that’s probably on their mind.

Your Prospective Mentor (aka “boss”) wants to know if you’re a great fit for their team, someone who has not only the skills but also the temperament to succeed on the job.

  • Do you have the knowledge and temperament to grow in this particular job?
  • Are you willing to learn? How do you learn best? How do you cope with change?
  • How do you work with others? What unique skills do you bring to a cross-functional team?

No one lands a great job in their career pathway without patient, assiduous work over an extended period of time. A successful job search often takes six months and dozens of meetings at many companies. So get ready to hone your storytelling skills, reveal your personal and professional commitments--as well as your experience--in all your communications with future employers, and you’ll gain the key skills to find and land a job where you can learn, grow and make a difference.