By Dave Holton, Director of Americas
I once knew (and still do) an IT recruiter who said to me that whenever a developer talked about how they used to take their Spectrum ZX apart when they were young to see how it was built, they knew they’d found a great candidate for a job.
Nothing about past companies, skills or experience whatsoever – just pure insight into why they loved what they did.
A recent article I read reminded me of this, which on the face of it is about how to stop rambling in your interview but is actually about how to create and craft a great “career story”. Whilst the article perhaps runs out of steam in the second half, the introduction and the first half really ring true for me.
The crux is this: in order to avoid rambling in an interview, you need to stop going off on tangents, or using words like ‘um’, ‘er’, ‘yeah’ and ‘like’, or listing your CV in chronological order. Instead, you should articulate a career story that starts with your passions and interests in your childhood, and link each to various positions and skills in your professional, adult life. All of which make you the best candidate for the job you’re interviewing for.
Without wishing to go off on a tangent myself, there’s a great scene in the film The History Boys where the teacher explains to his pupils that the examiner marking their essay will be doing 100 essays in a row and will be bored to tears. In order to to get the examiner’s attention, they need to say something interesting or controversial – rather than trot out the same argument as everyone else.
It’s exactly the same in an interview. The interviewer(s) might have several interviews in one day, or one a day for a week. So by creating a great career story, not only do you get their attention by making it more interesting, it also creates an emotional connection between you and them. After all, how many times do we say after a positive meeting that we ‘just had a good feeling’ about someone?
And as the article references, there are few truer sayings than the great Maya Angelou quote: “People will forget what you said, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel.”
What do you think – and do you have a great career story?
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