Everyone has a story about their job: Colleagues, bosses, competitors, questionable decisions, holiday parties, and the people you work with every day. But the most important stories are those that you tell during an interview for another job, hopefully a promotion. So which story is the best one? Which story positions you as a finalist candidate? What mistakes do you want to avoid?
THE BEST STORIES are those that show the differences between what the measureable results were “before” you assumed your current position and then “after” you increased performance results after a period of time. For example: “The department had a turnover of 20%. During my first month I held small group meetings to find out what the issues were, along with their ideas to problem-solve turnover, attitudes and performance. Within 18 months, turnover dropped to 7.5% and productivity increased by 12%. I am very proud of my unit and their teamwork in solving our issues.”
What does this little story tell your interviewers?
- You focus on key issues of performance immediately with your work group
- You are engaging and participative with your employees to solve departmental issues
- You manage through a style of teamwork
- You measure your results
Most everyone has a “before” and “after” story to tell but don’t know how to put it into words or put it together in a meaningful way. You need to have measureable results that you can validate and build into your “story”.
THE WOST STORIES are those that depict mitigating factors that prevent you from performing at a higher level: A boss, subordinates, peers, policies, politics, or constraints outside of your control. For example: “I could have been more successful in my current job if my boss would have given me more authority. He tends to be a micromanager, which is why I’m looking for another position where I can truly demonstrate my abilities”.
What does this story tell your interviewers?
- They don’t know whether these reasons are true or a fabrication. There’s no validation.
- Why doesn’t your current supervisor trust your judgment and watches your every move?
- They would be taking a risk in hiring you. Can they afford to hire an unknown?
- Other candidates are less of a risk.
My experience is that candidates who project their shortcomings on other people or events have a less than 50/50 chance of success. They usually don’t make it past the first interview.
When you have 3, 4 or 5 of the BEST stories ready for an interview, your chances for a second interview go up dramatically. However, be ready for the question, ”What specifically did you do to make it happen?” In other words, the interviewer will want to know what the specific steps you took, and how you achieved the results you said you obtained. If you can’t answer that question, your credibility goes down, along with your chances for a second interview.
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