Bring "Broadway" To Your Stories.
Put Interviewers Into The Moment.
Prove You Conquered Obstacles Important To Your Employers.
In the previous nugget I introduced you to the ancient art of story telling:the 5-W’s.
Then we evolved into the technique used by best-selling authors: Setting, Character, Conflict (sets the plot), Resolution, and a quick Ending.
Finally, we mentioned the “JOB INTERVIEW STORY-TELLING TECHNIQUE”: Stage, Players, Place, Problem, Probability, Proposal, Priority, Payment, Outcome, and Benefit Summary. Now, let’s take the time to dissect each component.
Stage: Think of a stage play at a Shakespearean or Broadway theater. All eyes are directed at the actors located up on a platform called a stage. Notice the smoke, the lighting, the curtains, the props. It all comes together to make the audience feel as though they are drawn into the time period, the home, the room or study, etc. The audience senses, in a some way, what it is like to actually be present at the time or place where the event took place. Likewise, your story must put the interviewer into the moment. “There were 5 of us working late into the evening. Often lights were switched out in the departments around us.” Or, “Our company was enduring layoffs, budget cut backs, and our department was on the verge of collapse. We were told to freeze all spending and everyone in our department was experiencing high anxiety for fear of losing their jobs. ”
Players: This is the “Who” as mentioned in the 5-W’s. You don’t need to mention names. Rather titles and function, but not all of them. Just enough to give the interviewer a “flavor” or “taste” of who you were helping or surrounded by.
Problem: Every company is faced with zillions of problems. What problem did you deal with? Rarely is it all about you and your emotions or your needs. Keep your perspective on what was important to your employers, managers, or teams. Here are some examples. “We were the worst performing division in the world.” “Our company ranked 10th in employee satisfaction.” “Competition just won the largest account from us.” “Our manager was beside him-self, or herself, because the team was not willing to do the heavy lifting for…”
Probability: This is your opportunity make your contribution concrete. What made your contribution so special? Why could someone else not do it? Why haven’t they done it before you? Why was the expected outcome so low and by whom—meaning someone of significance?
Proposal/Solution: Flesh this out in concrete terms. Who proposed it? Why? Provide a brief description of the proposal itself and be concrete and specific about units, increments, target, focus, alignment…think of a bullet penetrating the bull’s eye of a target. Aim for dead-center when communicating all the pertinent details. Units, measurements, be goal-oriented and specific. “I suggested a method of incorporating a modified spreadsheet to track number of sales samples and to relay that information to handhelds.”
Priority: Describe the degree of importance the company or management ascribed to this proposal/solution. What was the initial reaction to it? “When I wrote and submitted the proposal, there was very little attention paid to it. Yet, I knew the company could benefit. So, I thought it was a good idea and though low priority spent some personal time working on it after hours.”
Payment: How was the project financed? Who paid for it? Did it displace or disrupt other components of the manager’s or corporate budget?
Outcome: Be as specific as possible by stating units and measurements that indicate success. “Our revenues increased by 60% and relative profits by 85%.” “We acquired 421 new customers that we otherwise would not have acquired for another 6 years.” If you accomplished this by overcoming some barriers or other obstacles, state exactly how. “Because it was low priority, as I mentioned, I took it upon myself to do the work on my own time from home. I spent 2 to 3 hours nightly for over 6 months despite my family commitments. It turned out to be a great decision on my part for the company. And I have to admit, I had a great deal of personal satisfaction from that effort. The benefit to the company and the awards, compliments I received, was just icing on the cake. I did it for the learning experience.”
Now. Let me clarify something. By reading the above and reflecting on the above, you just spent quite a bit of time. You have to recite your story in a very brief period of time. Think of it as what is called an “elevator speech” within the world of 6-Sigma. An elevator speech is modeled after the notion that an executive is riding up in an elevator with you and you have less than 90 seconds to make a great speech that motivates the executive to take action and to remember you. You have 90-seconds or less to make your pitch.
Likewise, when telling your story during your interview try to frame it so that you cover everything pertinent in approximately 90-seconds. Some stories are deserving of even less time; others, a bit more time. Don’t talk for the sake of just talking. Don’t just chat. Everything you utter should have a purpose and be crisp and precise covering all the essential elements of great story-telling.