Most interviews are in a behavioral format, meaning the interviewer not only wants you to share that you have a particular skill, they want to hear about how you used that skill in past jobs. Practicing your skill story ahead of time will allow you to share it strategically, building it seamlessly into The Story of YOU.
First, a quick review of the four steps to telling your story:
- Start with a theme – a common thread that knits your experience together.
- Summarize your experience in an interesting way.
- Connect your experience specifically to the job requirements.
- Practice speaking your story so It sounds natural, ideally with an audience.
For a Specific Role, Talk Your Skills Up and Connect Your Skill Story to the Employer’s Requirements.
“I meet people at their lowest point, when they’ve just realized they will never walk again. I have an unusual ability to connect and teach them to do the impossible while focusing on the hospital and insurance company’s goal of getting them home quickly.”
“I became a producer through sheer hard work and the willingness to do anything that was needed. I worked day and night for 5 years to prove myself, going from the mailroom to Senior Producer.”
What’s Your Skill Story? You have lots of skills, but each situation will require a focus on different ones. Based on your ideal outcome, select a few Skill Stories that illustrate the Challenge, Action and Result that show your audience you would be great at this particular job. Weave them into your Story of YOU. Here’s a real-life example.
I’ve loved sports my whole life, baseball in particular. I love following baseball and the experience of going to the games. In college I majored in sports marketing and management at the business school and had internships where I learned about PR and sports marketing. A highlight was the summer I worked the NY Yankees driving membership for one of their fan groups. My senior year, the business school offered visits to companies in NYC, and when I visited WME/IMG I loved it immediately. I knew I wanted to be on the sports side of the business but started out working for a variety of clients, including a bank and a department store chain. I always assumed I’d pay my dues and then transition into the sports department.
At work, I learned how indispensable my organizational and analytical skills were. I spent hours poring over and synthesizing research, putting together huge program plans and schedules and creating client decks. I especially loved the social impact programs we designed and executed for a banking client. Seeing the appreciation and emotional impact our initiatives had on the people involved made all the work meaningful for me. My bosses praised me for representing the company in such a positive light and and being a great representative for our client.
Here’s a specific example of my work product so you can judge for yourself.
- Challenge: I was working for a big PR agency and we were tasked with creating a partnership on behalf of a large banking client to increase awareness of the bank’s commitment to active military and veterans.
- Action: We agreed that the bank would partner with three well-known bands that were big supporters of military/veterans on a special tour of 10 markets with particular relevance to the bank. Over 5 months, I project-managed the whole program, which had many moving parts including: Communication about partnership details with our bank client and the bands’ management, sourcing of vendors for producing branded merchandise, development of materials for military/veterans, and ultimately, and execution of the program during 10 show dates. Behind the scenes I managed a team to support VIP seating & meet and greet areas with the band for the bank’s military/veteran guests on-site, ensuring they felt comfortable and special.
- Result: The bank provided 200+ military/veterans with a VIP experience, engendering enormous goodwill and top press across the country. The event is now produced annually.
After all the success I’ve had at the company over more than four years, it has become clear that my bosses don’t want to lose me to the sports management group. I’m very anxious to apply my sports management know-how and interest in corporate social responsibility to a role where I can work with a high-performing team focused on a mission to connect with consumers or clients through the love of sports.
Photo Credit: Annalisa Plumb, NYC June 2014