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Interview on Your Terms

5 min read



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What Makes a Good Interview?

Conversational, good flow, both parties engaged As opposed to bad interviews, where things feel fake, intimidating, awkward

Why common questions only go so far

What's your greatest weakness? What is your proudest moment? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Why are you the best person for this job? Why are you a good fit for this company? Tell about a time you worked on a team / disagreed with a coworker

Start with your story

  • can focus on accomplishments you are proud of
  • leaves you more prepared for a variety of questions
  • more adaptable & prepared without being rehearsed on specific questions
  • stories are humanizing, conversational, friendly

What pitfalls to avoid

  • Never badmouth anyone
  • surface level self reflection (what are you doing to manage that? go deeper on how you're working to improve weaknesses, especially if they sound superficial)
  • focus on failure or what didn't work (what did work, what did you try to fix the issue)
  • judge your own qualifications (just, only - avoid these! limiting yourself)
  • don't bring things up you don't want to talk about
  • don't gloss over topics you don't want to talk about (if something does come up, don't avoid talking about it at all)
  • lie / embellish

What stories to tell

  • can you collaborate & work on a team?
  • can you be led or mentored?
  • do you learn from mistakes?
  • do you self reflect?
  • how do you problem solve?
  • how do you handle conflict / stress?
  • how do you talk about other people / companies?
  • how do you talk about yourself?
  • why is this the path you've taken?
  • can you do this job here well?

common threads through your career?

Story inspiration

being put into a sales position

that i can build things online - my portfolio, new app, jut building things in general

don't go to college if you don't know what you want

adjusting paths, walking away from problems & finding new solutions

every day at old job - always a fire to put out.


working with lisa - being able to tag team to get projects done & having someone to lean on who gets it

no one

when customers come back & say how happy they are with a finished product, or compliment me to the managers

How to tell good stories

STARL method

  • situation: describe the job & company concisely (how were you related to this problem - doesn't have to be full position)
  • task: describe the problem you faced & how it affected you & others (catalyst for story)
  • action: describe the process to find a solution & solution itself
  • results: did it work? fail?
  • learning: what did you learn?

CARL method - same as above, but situation/task combined into context

Storytelling tips:

  • remember your audience
  • have a thesis statement
  • focus on the facts
  • internal locus of control (what i did in response to situations around me)

Tell me about yourself

experiences that have been most formative in defining yourself can build out different stories that have made you who you are - then can break those down with CARL & use that to help provide answers later on, common threads

Elevator pitch:

  • who are you as a professional right now?
  • how did your past get you where you are?
  • what do you love about what you do?
  • what excites you about the future?

Brand statement - same questions, but longer answer / more detail

Value proposition

What value do you bring to the company specifically?

  • who are you that makes you a match for this co?
  • how does your past equip you for this role?
  • what do you love about this role/co?
  • what excites you about this role/co?

Other tips / tricks / info

if a question makes you uncomfortable - be vague / make a joke; ask clarifying questions; "that answer won't affect my ability to do the job"

general etiquette

  • take notes (don't be buried in it - but if something is interesting, call it out)
  • send thank you's
  • show up early (even virtually)
  • have your computer plugged in
  • be mindful of what will show up on your screen
  • no distractions
  • posture matters (lean forward a touch)
  • look at photos (linkedin, website) & dress to that or slightly above
  • the do-over (can include better answers to questions in thank you/follow up)

Good example questions:

  • what is the greatest challenge facing this team this year?
  • what is your favorite thing about working here?
  • what makes you most proud to work here?
  • do you have any reservations about me asa candidate for this position?
  • why is this position open?
  • what is your favorite mgmt style?
  • how much does your team collaborate?

Random thoughts

whatever you talk about in an interview, you should be able to own

tell your best stories, even if they're not specifically professional-based (ie lacking professional experience)

re: impostor syndrome - really narrow down on your facts

for thesis/brand - focus on why you do what you do

being able to stay on the outside of a conflict can be a skill!

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