The Story of You

“Tell me about yourself”

It’s the first question in most interviews, not to mention the query commonly faced when meeting someone new.

Though the question is common, the answer is perplexingly hard to present, especially in an interview setting. Where do I start? What information is most important to convey? How much detail to provide? How long should I go on? What do s/he want to hear?

Right off the bat, you’ve arrived at the interview moment where you get to tell the biggest story you have—the Story of You. That’s right, the Story of You. And getting this right is really important. Since its commonly asked at the beginning of an interview or discussion, it sets the stage—and your confidence level—for the remainder of the interview.

The power of storytelling is a trending topic—it’s well documented how stories compel consumer purchasing, simplify the complex, gain supporters for a cause—in general, make sense of the world around us. Crafting the Story of You is no different—it’s the hook you use to grab the interviewer’s attention, to explain your path, to provide evidence of your skills, and compellingly begin your “hire me” campaign. 

6 rules of thumb as you craft the Story of You:

  1. Structure your story
    If you’re going to talk about your work experiences, presenting them in reverse chronology works best. That allows you to end with what you’re doing today, and provides a ramp to the gig you’re interviewing for. 
  2. Tell your story so that it “makes sense”, given the job you’re seeking
    After hearing your opener, the interviewer should understand why you’re interviewing and should see how what you’ve done—and the great things you’ve accomplished—makes you a desirable candidate. 
  3. Highlight 1-2 relevant accomplishments
    Things that would make your interviewer say, “Hmmm. If she did that cool thing in a past job, she will be able to contribute for us in that same way.” 
  4. Communicate your personal brand
    The best and most unique skills you have to offer and what you’re passionate about. And, it’s important to add: Make sure your personal brand really syncs with the opportunities you’re seeking—or else you should be seeking other things!
  5. Limit your story to 90 seconds to 2 minutes tops
    Great stories are short, succinct, and authentic—stories that go long run the risk of losing the audience in details they may not care about. If the interviewer wants to “peel the onion,” that’s terrific, but let her take the lead on that. 
  6. Practice, practice, practice
    Get the main points of your story together and say it more than a few times, preferably in front of someone (or your dog). 

Crafting the Story of You is both an art and a science—and something I love to help clients with. Let me know if it’s something you’d like to work on!