June 07, 2017 / THE WORLD'S A STAGE, WHAT'S YOUR STORY?
June 07, 2017
The resume worked. Your interview is scheduled. That’s half the battle.
The key to a successful interview is more than proving your skills and capabilities. There are prep questions on the internet—the hard ones, the tricky ones, the ones designed to prove (or disprove) your cultural fit. But how do you really prepare with so many questions and answers to consider? And how will you ever remember it all?
The fact is, the best thing you can do in an interview, assuming you have the required skills, is to be memorable. And the best way to do that is to authentically tell your story.
For Catherine, a graduating senior double majoring in Philosophy and History, a little homework took the stress out of her interview and helped land her an internship with a Bay Area tech company.
As she struggled to decide how best to spend her gap year before law school, Catherine read Be More: Find Your Truth, Tell Your Story, and Get What You Want Out of Life. With a world of opportunity in front of her, so much opportunity that it was too much, she needed a tool to hone in on what was most meaningful to her.
“I have done a lot of internships, and my plan is law school,” Catherine explains. “But through some conversations I discovered I really couldn’t say what I wanted to do.” To define her answer to the question ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ she dove into the SVP Exercise in the book.
To complete the SVP Exercise, Catherine followed its formula, identifying her five exceptional skills, four core values, and one passion as the building blocks to learn to tell her story. She spent a couple of months working through the exercise, talking to mentors and family members to arrive at answers that felt authentic and reflected how others saw her. “I spent a lot of time doing the homework and coming up with answers that were really thoughtful and purposeful.”
Identify your exceptional skills: Focus on the top skills you bring to the workplace. What do people consistently say about you? What are the contributions that you make? Think about the highlights of your performance review and the things people consistently ask you to do at work. Be focused, just list five skills. No more, no less.
Articulate your core values: What factors into your daily decision-making and shapes how you move in the world? What are the things that are true to what you think, what you believe, how you act, how you live? Understanding your values will help you make career choices that work for you in your world. Your values differentiate you as a person and help create the human part of your story.
Recognize your true passion: Your passion defines your path to happiness, and it makes you memorable. But defining it in a genuine way requires some work. It’s easy to point to a passion for sports, for example. But when translated to career, it might more accurately be reflected in a competitive spirit. To determine your passion, listen to your voice. What makes you talk faster, what could you lose yourself in for half a day? Follow that to your passion.
Write your story: With these data points in hand, you have the building blocks to be able to tell your story. Start with a summary statement of what you believe. Add the specifics to explain it in detail, then conclude with a sentence that shows how you add value. Keep refining it until the language feels comfortable to you. Then, use your story to claim your special place in the world.
When it was time for her Glassdoor interview, Catherine was prepared. “I reviewed my SVP before the phone interview and wrote down important points to mention in the call. On the phone, I was focusing on smart answers to questions that would move the conversation the way I wanted instead of just circling around topics,” she says. “And the response I got was, ‘Wow, that’s the best answer I think I’ve ever heard.’ It works, SVP just works.”
“I sound so polished when I can just pull that out. It’s a great interview tool. I hung up the phone and thought ‘I’m pretty sure I nailed it.’ It’s a great feeling.”
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