Prepare to tell the story of what you have done

As a candidate, it is very powerful to be able to speak specifically about what you have done while other candidates are speaking in broad terms about what they would do, could do or should do. 

Unfortunately, too many very smart, highly qualified individuals miss out on their dream opportunity because when in an interview situation they could not remember the details of that intricate project they led 4 or 5 years ago. It is simple work to get you ready to quickly and confidently speak about what you have done.

Start by writing (handwritten or electronic) the 5 accomplishments in your career you are most proud of. These should be times you avoided disaster, completed a huge project, met a really tough deadline or saved/made money or time for your organization.

Organize your thoughts using the acronym STAR:

1. Situation

A couple of bullet points describing the organization and team you were with and what was going on in the environment.

2. Task

A few bullet points describing the problem, opportunity, project or deadline you were faced with.

3. Action

This is where you will spend most of your time thinking. This might be 8-10 bullet points or more. Be as specific as possible about each individual action YOU took to finish the project, meet the deadline, take advantage of opportunity or avoid disaster for your team and organization. It is ok to talk about what you did in the context of working within a team, but be very specific about what YOU did to contribute to that team’s success. What did you do that you are really proud of? Take your time with this section and remember that this is essentially a memory exercise so jot notes down and walk away from it. It will come back to you.

4. Result

In the last section of each accomplishment you tie it all together with a few bullet points describing the result in as concrete business terms as possible. You should talk about what could have happened if you had not found or fixed the problem expertly, the number of days saved on the project or implementation, the money made or saved by taking advantage of an opportunity or streamlining a process or procedure. You want to demonstrate that you understand how the results of your work affect the success of the business.

Preparing in this manner will help you confidently and quickly provide examples of what you have done in response to questions about your experience. You will be able to select from the many details you have remembered to provide tangible connections for the interviewers between what you have done and what they need you to do.