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THE IT
INTERVIEW
GUIDEBOOK:
IT resourcesIT resources
DOUGLAS PAULO
THE ART OF STORYTELLING AND
CAPTIVATING YOUR AUDIENCE
/02
If someone asked you to tell them
about your favorite movie, could you?
Chances are, you’d easily be able to
summarize...
So how do movies pertain to a job interview?
Well, as a jobseeker in today’s competitive IT job market, you need to make y...
/04
PART I:
RESEARCHING
YOUR AUDIENCE
/05
Every answer you give, every question you ask, and every
anecdote you recount during an interview combines to tell
a s...
/06
Pre-interview research
Forbes reports that hiring managers often complain candidates lack knowledge about
the companie...
/07
Who the organization’s competitors are: The company’s website is unlikely to include
this information. The best way to...
Putting it all together
Review the information you’ve collected, and synthesize it to form a picture of the
company and th...
/09
PART II:
BECOME
A GREAT
STORYTELLER
It’s important to understand that simply rehearsing a couple
of anecdotes to share during an interview isn’t a guarantee
y...
Lessons from TED Talks
When it comes to in-person storytelling, many of us struggle to get our words across in
the right m...
/12
PART III:
LANDING THE
JOB YOU WANT
/13
Six storytelling tips to improve your interviewing skills
According to Stanton, a well-told story hooks, thrills, and ...
/14
3.	 Show your enthusiasm. Gain the interviewer’s attention by sharing information that
clearly demonstrates your enthu...
/15
you are for the team. For example, if you ask, “What do you like best about working
here?” and the answer is, “The wor...
/16
PART IV:
DEADLY SINS OF
STORYTELLING
To make your story and yourself even more memorable, avoid
these “deadly sins of storytelling” during the interview proces...
Using jargon. Though the hiring manager is most likely an IT professional, it’s possible
that you’ll also interview with o...
Playing the blame game. Sharing information about past experiences and shifting the
blame to your previous employer, super...
/20
PART V:
INTERVIEW
CHECKLIST
COMMONLY-ASKED QUESTIONS
THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS ARE COMMONLY
ASKED AS PART OF THE INTERVIEW PROCESS.
Prepare concise
resp...
/22
STORY-TELLING TOPICS
EXPERIENCED PROFESSIONAL:
•	 Guidance or mentorship
you’ve provided
•	 Conflict resolution experi...
SOURCES:
http://hbr.org/2003/06/storytelling-that-moves-people/ar
http://www.personalbrandingblog.com/5-tips-to-boost-conf...
/24/24
Kelly®
has the connections to develop your IT career. Our customers
include 90% of Fortune 500®
and 99% of Fortune ...
EXIT
This information may not be published, broadcast, sold, or otherwise distributed without prior written permission fro...
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THE IT INTERVIEW GUIDEBOOK: THE ART OF STORYTELLING AND CAPTIVATING YOUR AUDIENCE

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THE IT INTERVIEW GUIDEBOOK: THE ART OF STORYTELLING AND CAPTIVATING YOUR AUDIENCE

  1. 1. THE IT INTERVIEW GUIDEBOOK: IT resourcesIT resources DOUGLAS PAULO THE ART OF STORYTELLING AND CAPTIVATING YOUR AUDIENCE
  2. 2. /02 If someone asked you to tell them about your favorite movie, could you? Chances are, you’d easily be able to summarize the plot in a couple of sentences. Now consider why it’s so easy for you to do so. The obvious answer is, of course, that you were drawn into the story and enjoyed the movie—which isn’t surprising, since movies are carefully crafted by master storytellers to be engaging and memorable. The secret to a successful interview: great storytelling INTRODUCTION KEY HIGHLIGHTS In this eBook, you will learn: • How to research a company so you know your audience • How to create engaging stories that a hiring manager won’t forget • What you should never do when telling a story in an interview, and what you should do instead
  3. 3. So how do movies pertain to a job interview? Well, as a jobseeker in today’s competitive IT job market, you need to make yourself as memorable as possible to hiring managers. No matter how good your education, how impressive your experience, or how extensive your computer skills, what will really set you apart from other candidates with comparable skills is your ability to articulate how you can bring value to an organization. Going to an interview and simply reciting your résumé isn’t going to engage a hiring manager or interviewer. To really stand out, you need to know how to tell your story in an authentic manner that resonates with your audience. And that’s where the art of storytelling comes in. The art of storytelling can be applied to interviews to make a greater impact on your listener. In an interview in Harvard Business Review, Robert McKee, an award-winning director, and writer and author of Story, Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting, instructs that a powerful way to engage people is to unite an idea with an emotion. In an interview setting, this translates into providing information about yourself in a manner that your listener can relate to emotionally, making you and your story more memorable in his or her mind. INTRODUCTION /03 The greateststory I ever told...
  4. 4. /04 PART I: RESEARCHING YOUR AUDIENCE
  5. 5. /05 Every answer you give, every question you ask, and every anecdote you recount during an interview combines to tell a story about you. So in order for your story to be memorable, you need to take control of it. As Robert McKee says, a successful story unites an idea with an emotion—in other words, you have to craft your tale so it strikes a chord with the audience. To do this, you first have to establish common ground and engage your listener’s emotions. And that’s where researching your audience comes in. To determine what you need to research, ask yourself, “Who is my audience and what is my goal?” Your audience is, of course, the hiring manager—both as an individual and as a representative of his or her company. Your goal is to convince the hiring manager that you’re the best fit for the job. To establish common ground, you need to understand the company’s objectives, circumstances, and reason for hiring a candidate with a specific skillset for this particular position. You also need to know the hiring manager’s own background. So the more you know about both the company and the hiring manager, the better you’ll be able to tailor a story to your audience’s frame of reference. THE MORE YOU KNOW ABOUT BOTH THE COMPANY AND THE HIRING MANAGER, THE BETTER YOU’LL BE ABLE TO TAILOR A STORY TO YOUR AUDIENCE’S FRAME OF REFERENCE. PART I: RESEARCHING YOUR AUDIENCE
  6. 6. /06 Pre-interview research Forbes reports that hiring managers often complain candidates lack knowledge about the companies they’re applying with. Having knowledge of the company not only shows you’ve done your homework, it also puts you in a better position to tell a story that’s relevant to the interviewer’s situation. Set at least a couple of hours aside to gather information about the company and the hiring manager. What follows is a list of the most important pieces of information you need and where to find them. The company’s product or service: Look on the “About Us” page on the company’s website. The company’s history: Check the “About Us” page, or the company’s LinkedIn or Wikipedia page. You can also conduct a Google search on the company’s name. The bios of the leaders of the organization: review the “About Us,” “Management,” “Leadership,” or “Investor” page on the company’s website. PART I: RESEARCHING YOUR AUDIENCE
  7. 7. /07 Who the organization’s competitors are: The company’s website is unlikely to include this information. The best way to find it is to conduct an online search on the company’s name, as well as a search for its competitors. You can do this by typing in “Competitors of [company name]” and making sure to offset the words by quotation marks. The organization’s recent activity: Check the “News,” “Press,” or “Media” pages on the company’s website, and look for recent press releases. You can also check the company’s blog, as well as perform searches and news searches on the company’s name. The background and communication style of the hiring manager: Look on the company’s website and see if the hiring manager has a bio there. Then take a look at the hiring manager’s LinkedIn profile and read it carefully. Make note of any interests, group affiliations, college alma mater(s), and connections. Study the LinkedIn bio carefully, as well as all endorsements, to gain an understanding of the hiring manager’s background. What is this person like? What does his or her profile tell you? PART I: RESEARCHING YOUR AUDIENCE
  8. 8. Putting it all together Review the information you’ve collected, and synthesize it to form a picture of the company and the hiring manager’s situation. What do you imagine is the hiring manager’s biggest problem right now? Are the company’s IT systems failing to keep up with the organization’s growth? Does the company want to design custom systems for clients, but it lacks the personnel with the right combination of expert programming language skills and well-honed interpersonal skills? Use your talent for analytical thinking to gain an overview of what’s important to the company and the hiring manager at this point in time. Spend some time considering what you and the hiring manager have in common in order to know how to strike a chord with him or her. Consider aspects such as education, work experience, and interests. By understanding the hiring manager’s situation and having a common point of interest to draw him or her in, you can ensure your story’s meaning comes across with clarity and power. Then you can work on honing all of your interview answers into a comprehensive story that carries maximum impact and makes you a memorable candidate. /08 BY UNDERSTANDING THE HIRING MANAGER’S SITUATION AND HAVING A COMMON POINT OF INTEREST TO DRAW HIM OR HER IN, YOU CAN ENSURE YOUR STORY’S MEANING COMES ACROSS WITH CLARITY AND POWER. PART I: RESEARCHING YOUR AUDIENCE
  9. 9. /09 PART II: BECOME A GREAT STORYTELLER
  10. 10. It’s important to understand that simply rehearsing a couple of anecdotes to share during an interview isn’t a guarantee you’ll be a memorable candidate. After all, you won’t be the one leading the conversation, so you can’t be sure when you’ll have the opportunity to tell your story. You need to be able to participate in the conversation and roll with it. That’s why you need to craft an authentic, engaging story that communicates your message throughout the entire job interview—no matter what questions are asked. The way to do this is by knowing what the company wants, what the hiring manager’s situation is, and how you can bring value to the organization. You’ve already worked on gathering background information in Part I. Now we’re going to discuss how to deliver your story throughout the course of the interview. PART II: BECOME A GREAT STORYTELLER /10 A “STORY” SHOULD LAST FOR AT LEAST THREE TO FIVE MINUTES, WHILE OTHER TYPES OF ANSWERS SHOULDN’T BE LONGER THAN THREE TO FOUR SENTENCES. REMEMBER: OVER-ANSWERING WILL GIVE THE IMPRESSION THAT YOU LACK FOCUS AND AREN’T A GOOD COMMUNICATOR.
  11. 11. Lessons from TED Talks When it comes to in-person storytelling, many of us struggle to get our words across in the right manner. Fortunately, we can take some lessons from TED Talks, the presentations given by professionals who share their enthusiasm for their passions in a—typically short— speech. The best TED Talks go viral and are seen by millions of viewers around the globe. In Inc., TED organizer Kelly Stoezel shares some advice to make you appear confident and your story sound natural. She advises preparing yourself and your audience by making small talk ahead of time; telling the story in your own manner instead of relying on a scripted structure; and knowing that you’re providing a service by sharing this information with your listeners. In his TED Talk, filmmaker and Toy Story writer Andrew Stanton says you can create a great story by using what you know, capturing a truth by experiencing it, and expressing values you deeply believe in. He also advises avoiding explicitly stating something about yourself (e.g. “I’m collaborative”) and instead allowing your listener to make his or her own deductions about you based on your story (e.g. “I worked with two colleagues to build the database in record time”). /11PART II: BECOME A GREAT STORYTELLER
  12. 12. /12 PART III: LANDING THE JOB YOU WANT
  13. 13. /13 Six storytelling tips to improve your interviewing skills According to Stanton, a well-told story hooks, thrills, and captivates the listener. The following six tips for storytelling will help you improve your storytelling skills and apply them to interview situations. 1. Prepare to make the audience care. Using the research you did in Part I about the company, identify key points that describe how you could make a difference in the organization, as well as how you would fit in with the company culture. Come up with compelling reasons for why your skills are exactly what this employer needs right now to achieve its goals. For example, if the company needs somebody with in- depth knowledge of programming languages as well as interpersonal skills, prepare to explain that you’re proficient in four programming languages and were named “Employee of the Month” at your customer service job during your college years. 2. Establish a connection. Before the interview starts, use the opportunity to establish a connection with the hiring manager. Make small talk about something you have in common, such as, “I noticed we’re both (name of college) grads. Did you go to the most recent alumni event?” or, “I saw you’re also a member of (name of group) on LinkedIn. Do you find it useful?” By establishing a connection, you’ll create a more relaxed setting, which makes it easier to engage the interviewer. PART III – LANDING THE JOB YOU WANT Make the audience care Be likeable Be clear on your intentions Show your enthusiasm Delight the listener Establish a connection
  14. 14. /14 3. Show your enthusiasm. Gain the interviewer’s attention by sharing information that clearly demonstrates your enthusiasm for what the company does, as well as your eagerness to bring value to the firm. For example, “I really like what you’re doing by offering custom-built systems, and I’m excited about the opportunity to bring my knowledge of C# and Java, as well as my customer service experience, to the job.” 4. Be clear on your intentions. Everything you say and do during the interview should convey that the job you’re interviewing for is your first choice. Being informed as to the company’s needs and enthusiastic about the position goes a long way, as well as communicating that you like the company culture and think you’ll be a good fit for the team. It’s also a good idea to draw upon your knowledge of the company’s values and history to support the fact that this organization is your first choice employer, not just one in a series of applications. 5. Be likeable. The more people understand you, the more likely they are to feel empathy for you. Since you’ve already established a connection during the small talk at the beginning of the interview, you can build on this by discussing things you have in common. So ask questions and find opportunities to establish more common ground. Moreover, being interested in the hiring manager, as well as the rest of the team at the company, will make you even more likeable and show how good a match PART III – LANDING THE JOB YOU WANT AVOID BEING DISAPPOINTED IN YOUR JOB BY BEING REALISTIC IN YOUR JOB SEARCH. TO BE REALISTIC, YOU NEED TO EVALUATE YOUR REQUIREMENTS AND SKILLS IN RELATION TO A DESIRED ROLE.
  15. 15. /15 you are for the team. For example, if you ask, “What do you like best about working here?” and the answer is, “The work’s always cutting-edge and interesting,” you could go on to say how much you enjoy challenging yourself and accomplishing new things. This shared emotion creates a rapport that can make you stand out from the rest of the candidates. 6. Delight the listener. Have one or two good anecdotes that clearly demonstrate the qualities you want the hiring manager to know about. The stories should be short and truthful and show you in a positive light. For example, you could tell an anecdote about how you had just started with your previous employer when your supervisor fell ill during a high-priority project, so you filled in as team leader and managed to complete the project on time and within budget. The interview is your opportunity—and might be your one and only chance—to connect with the hiring manager, so use the conversation to tell a candid story that shows how invested you are in the company’s needs and highlights how you could assist the hiring manager in achieving his or her goals. Most importantly, be honest and always be yourself. PART III – LANDING THE JOB YOU WANT
  16. 16. /16 PART IV: DEADLY SINS OF STORYTELLING
  17. 17. To make your story and yourself even more memorable, avoid these “deadly sins of storytelling” during the interview process. Writing for the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Professor of Marketing Jennifer Aaker addresses frequently made storytelling errors that result in dry, unexciting stories. Structuring stories chronologically. A tale that simply recants events from start to end isn’t nearly as interesting as a carefully crafted story in which risks and consequences build to a satisfying—and oftentimes surprising—conclusion. Make sure your stories are founded in ideas linked to feelings and passions, and show logical connections between each event in the story. For example, you could tell a story about how when a previous employer needed to streamline its data collection in order to meet an important deadline, you went above and beyond the call of duty to design a function that allowed database users to edit within the system, minimizing the time needed for corrections and maximizing sharing efficiency. As a result, the company met its deadlines and showed improved capacity from then on. Using clichés. Avoid general categories and terms when speaking about yourself. By using descriptive language that evokes images instead, you can engage your listener and make yourself more memorable. So in place of saying, “I’m very organized,” you could say, “I like my workspace to be organized. I always make sure to label files and folders correctly so I or anybody on the team can easily find them.” PART III: DEADLY SINS OF STORYTELLING /17 WRITE DOWN WHAT GOALS MAKE SENSE FOR YOU BASED ON YOUR PRIORITIES AND END GOAL.
  18. 18. Using jargon. Though the hiring manager is most likely an IT professional, it’s possible that you’ll also interview with others in the organization who aren’t. In this case, bear in mind that sprinkling the conversation with jargon that’s too technical or limited to a specific population is a surefire way to lose most audiences. For example, if part of the interview process for an IT job at a company includes meeting with the CEO who doesn’t have an IT background, you should probably steer away from terms like “mainframe,” “bridge,” and “QoS.” Fabricating details or events. Untruths and half-truths undermine your credibility. While it’s fine to show enthusiasm and passion, never exaggerate the facts. Remember: an employer can and will check your references, so stick to the truth, no matter how enticing embellishments might seem. Being too general. Anecdotes that make your experiences interchangeable with those of many other candidates aren’t going to make you memorable in the eyes of an interviewer. Avoid being too general by selecting stories that are unique to you, and showcase them by means of YouTube videos, blog posts, and/or your personal website. If an accomplishment was shared, give credit where credit is due. Make sure your stories are tailored to your audience and contain messages that highlight your best qualities as they apply to the industry. /18PART III: DEADLY SINS OF STORYTELLING
  19. 19. Playing the blame game. Sharing information about past experiences and shifting the blame to your previous employer, supervisor, or team members will trigger a red flag with the hiring manager that you’re not a good fit—even if you preface the story with the statement, “I’m not blaming anyone.” Instead, present the story as a learning experience that’s helped you develop, or steer away from it altogether. Claiming to be perfect. When asked about a mistake or failure you made in the past, don’t immediately answer that you can’t think of any. This is another red flag for hiring managers, since nobody’s perfect. In fact, not sharing a story here might make it seem like you aren’t willing to take responsibility for your actions. Make sure to prepare a good story that shows what you learned from your mistake and how the experience improved your ability to deliver in your job. With the points above in mind, spend some time practicing your stories. Write them down, record yourself telling them, and present them to friends. Ask for feedback and keep practicing until your stories are engaging and memorable. /19 AVOID THE “DEADLY SINS OF STORYTELLING” TO MAKE SURE YOUR STORY IS UNIQUE, EXCITING, AND MEMORABLE. PART III: DEADLY SINS OF STORYTELLING
  20. 20. /20 PART V: INTERVIEW CHECKLIST
  21. 21. COMMONLY-ASKED QUESTIONS THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS ARE COMMONLY ASKED AS PART OF THE INTERVIEW PROCESS. Prepare concise responses and practice them aloud so your answers sound natural. • Why are you interested in working with our company? • Why are you looking to leave—or why did you leave—your last position? • What’s important to you in a work environment? • Why should we hire you, or what makes you the best candidate for the role? • Describe an accomplishment of which you’re proud. • How do you handle conflict at work? /21
  22. 22. /22 STORY-TELLING TOPICS EXPERIENCED PROFESSIONAL: • Guidance or mentorship you’ve provided • Conflict resolution experiences • Team- and peer-inclusive accountability measures • Approachability anecdotes • Examples of complex problem-solving SENIOR PROFESSIONAL: • Objective-oriented strategy forming • Ability to drive change • Application of company strategy to your specific domain of expertise • Relationship nurturing • Risks and failures • Influence on team culture • Ownership of decisions and actions • Description of your leadership style HERE ARE SOME TOPICS FOR STORIES YOU CAN PREPARE PRIOR TO YOUR NEXT INTERVIEW: NOVICE PROFESSIONAL: • Any study or research you completed that would be relevant to the company and/or hiring manager • Experience at getting up to speed quickly on a project (cite a specific example) • Coaching you received in previous environments that helped expand your knowledge and experience • Transferable experience or knowledge (products, certifications, methodologies, etc.) that is relevant to the position and compensates for a lack of exact qualifications
  23. 23. SOURCES: http://hbr.org/2003/06/storytelling-that-moves-people/ar http://www.personalbrandingblog.com/5-tips-to-boost-confidence-for-a-job-interview/ http://www.youtern.com/thesavvyintern/index.php/2014/05/01/desperation-is-not-a-marketable-soft-skill/ http://www.myfuture.com/careers/articles-advice/acing-the-interview http://jobsearch.about.com/cs/interviews/a/aceinterview.htm http://www.youtern.com/thesavvyintern/index.php/2014/06/02/10-things-that-must-be-said-in-every-job-interview/ http://criticalfinancial.com/how-to-take-control-of-a-job-interview-and-why-you-should/ http://www.careerealism.com/ace-interview-ask-questions http://www.youtern.com/thesavvyintern/index.php/2014/04/17/what-are-the-top-5-job-interview-mistakes/ http://www.youtern.com/thesavvyintern/index.php/2013/11/22/10-really-bad-job-interview-answers-and-10-good-ones/ http://www.youtern.com/thesavvyintern/index.php/2013/09/10/the-top-25-questions-to-ask-during-a-job-interview/ http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2014/01/15/how-to-ace-10-of-the-most-common-interview-questions/ http://www.personalbrandingblog.com/6-tips-to-making-a-positive-first-impression/ http://www.youtern.com/thesavvyintern/index.php/2013/10/17/win-or-lose-5-defining-moments-of-every-job-interview/ http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/2014/02/24/the-most-common-job-interview-questions-and-how-to-answer-them http://www.forbes.com/sites/dorieclark/2014/01/02/how-to-give-a-ted-worthy-talk/ /23
  24. 24. /24/24 Kelly® has the connections to develop your IT career. Our customers include 90% of Fortune 500® and 99% of Fortune 100™ companies. We put a new employee to work every 33 seconds, and every four minutes one gets hired full-time by a Kelly customer. Search for jobs on our kellycareernetwork.com, or visit kellyservices.us/ITcareers for career insights.
  25. 25. EXIT This information may not be published, broadcast, sold, or otherwise distributed without prior written permission from the authorized party. All trademarks are property of their respective owners. An Equal Opportunity Employer. © 2014 Kelly Services, Inc. ABOUT KELLY SERVICES® Kelly Services, Inc. (NASDAQ: KELYA, KELYB) is a leader in providing workforce solutions. Kelly® offers a comprehensive array of outsourcing and consulting services as well as world-class staffing on a temporary, temporary-to-hire, and direct-hire basis. Serving clients around the globe, Kelly provided employment to approximately 540,000 employees in 2013. Revenue in 2013 was $5.4 billion. Visit kellyservices.com and connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Download WorkWire™ , a free iPad® app by Kelly Services. ABOUT THE AUTHOR DOUGLAS PAULO is director for the Americas Information Technology (IT) product group, an IT staffing solutions business unit of Kelly Services, Inc. He is responsible for solution development, product strategy, pricing, brand messaging and positioning, as well as service development for the IT product services portfolio. Prior to joining Kelly Services in April 2012, Mr. Paulo spent 18 years with HP Enterprise Services (formerly EDS) progressively advancing his management and leadership skills through experience in ITO & BPO operations, business development, project and client management both domestically as well as internationally. In his previous role, Mr. Paulo developed an offering that enabled clients to maximize return on customer value as well as the management of the overall end-to-end customer experience. Mr. Paulo received the Strategic Workforce Planning (SWP), Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) Foundations and the Zachman Framework for Enterprise Architecture (ZIFA) certificates along with completing the Cornell University—S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management Executive Education for Product Management. He is multilingual in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

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