Thomas Friedman did every job seeker a huge solid with his recent column.
The NY Times journalist sat down with Laszlo Bock, the head of hiring for all of Google (“SVP of People Operations”), and asked, among several career topics, what’s your best advice for job interviews?
“What you want to do is say: ‘Here’s the attribute I’m going to demonstrate; here’s the story demonstrating it; here’s how that story demonstrated that attribute.’…Most people in an interview don’t make explicit their thought process behind how or why they did something and, even if they are able to come up with a compelling story, they are unable to explain their thought process.”
Bock’s advice is sound and a topic often covered in News to Live By. Don’t TELL employers you’re skilled at this or that…SHOW them with a personal story. Give people an example to wrap their heads around.
It’s not: “I have several years experience with tight deadlines and managing critical projects”
Instead, recount a memorable story during the interview: “I can remember this one time… we had the ballroom 100% ready for the client’s big charity gala… all the table decorations set up. And suddenly, with 19 hours to spare, the client decides she doesn’t like the floral arrangements and wants all new ones. So I quickly got on the phone with the florist, ordered new flowers for all the tables, went to pick them up — even had to drive a giant SUV through downtown at 5 pm — brought the flowers to the ballroom, put them on all 37 tables and had the room ready with about an hour to spare.
It was a challenging day, but I got it done and proved I can deal with stress, make quick decisions and problem solve.”
Which version would an employer find most valuable during the interview?
Stories also do wonders in cover letters. Here’s an easy explanation on how and why to lead your cover letter with a relevant personal anecdote.