Take the grandstand with experiential story

The beauty of being a Hiring manager is, you get to meet many people and talk to individuals. People presenting dynamic dimensions with varied experiences, challenges and perspectives. It fascinates me to see how unalike we all are. The hardest part for Hiring Manager is to find the right fit for the team and the organisation. Though skills clearly take precedence while skimming through hundreds of application, the spotlight will always be about “Who you are?”

Allow me to take a little detour to elucidate the interview pattern across the industry, to set the note before presenting actual point of this article. Firstly, let me share the baseline understanding thats prevalent in the industry (keeping aside certain percentage for exception scenarios) by and large the interview process and the weighing parameters are directly proportional to candidates experience level.

Beginning with 0-2 years experienced candidates, whom I call as “Industry neophytes”. Straight out of college, outbursts of enthusiasm , all ears and eyes for learning opportunities. Usually we discourage or do not recommend candidates to shift within the first 2 years. This is the time where one need to just soak everything in. Clenching an eagle claw over the industry specifics understanding how to map a business need to technical implementations. Being a neophyte gives a unique advantage, a freehand to do your share of mistakes . Experiment and to fail often, it simply broadens ones horizon.

Candidates with 3-6 years experience whom I call “Industry Risers” , by and large contained and challenged within the fort of Technical skills. 6 years in the industry would have helped the candidates to understand the business dynamics but not experienced enough to take the captains position. At this time candidates are well informed to make their career decisions it is also during this period they grow affinity towards certain tech stack or tools. The hiring decisions are heavily influenced by technical rounds (with some essential soft skills of-course).

Now coming to the protagonists of this write up, candidates between 7-10 years experience whom I call as “Industry aficionados . May I say it’s kind of tricky to point at one single parameter as selection criteria during hiring process . Why? because 10 years commands for deeper sense of understanding about the industry and the processes. It’s kind of challenging for the hiring manager to strike the right balance in making choices.

Let me spill the beans, If you are 10 years in the industry and looking for a change. Make an impactful conversation by manoeuvring the discussion to your advantage using your personal stories.

What do I mean by this?

Often times candidates try to impress audience by using fancy jargons, well that will give some edge but fail to make an entire game. If you have to make a lasting impact, you should find a way to display strong personality traits without mentioning about the same. “I am this..”, “I am that…” sounds braggadocious and hollow .

How to do that?

What better way than stories? 10 years in this industry would have bestowed with Good, Bad & Ugly instances. At some point one may have to rise above the situation, take a holistic view to find the fix. These experiential stories unknowingly help to explicate your personal traits. It clearly demonstrates your approach towards problem solving and highlights your appetite for challenges and adversities. This is exactly what hiring team will be looking forward from candidate with experience.

3 things that drives this experiential story telling is

  • An actual experience – you should have gone through this learning curve yourself. Sharing somebody else story may not sound authentic enough. The words gives it all, a person who has actually walked the path would naturally use words oozing passion while someone trying to make up an experience may find struggling to keep up the flow and also seem kind of lost.
  • A learning Curve: Be it a success or failure an experiential story always depict a learning curve. And that curve is what defines the depth of your appetite for challenges.
  • Process: The story should lay out a process, the series of actions which led you towards success/failure brings out the clarity in your thoughts. We all are humans and we tend to make bad choices, but it never ends there. It takes courage to trace back and start all over again.

All said and done, interviews are time bound. How can you explain the whole experience in few simple sentences without losing the intensity of journey?

Story maps !!!!

These story maps are usually used to help nursery kids in story writing. I personally find it effective to map out the whole journey and recreate the same in few simple words ( I strongly recommend everyone to try this out).

Pick any experience driving the learning curve from the past. Go ahead filling each circle, one by one.

  • Characters: list of people was involved, it can be just one person or group of people.
  • Setting: Where and when it took place?(It can be physical location or system/infrastructure related )
  • Problem: The issue/conflict that occurred, may be you can expand this a little more by adding the impact, if this problem persisted.
  • Solution: How you solved the problem, either the solution can be directly explained or you can go ahead and highlight few key events just to give it a depth.

Should this be restricted to interviews?

No ! you can use this concept anywhere. Be it while talking to your manager on regular 1-1 or presenting something to wider team. Wherever there is a need to make an impactful conversation this method of can be used.

I hope this article helps you, if you are in the process of job change then I wish you all the best 🙂


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