Renown scholar, Harold Bloom, in his book, Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, declared, “before Shakespeare, there was characterization; after Shakespeare, there was character, men and women with highly individual personalities.”
“Our highly individual personalities” are what set us apart in today’s highly competitive job market. Those individual details transform the nitty gritty skills and experience data in our resumés into a living picture of who we are and what motivates us. With so many highly qualified (skills and experience) candidates applying for so few positions, it is more important than ever to differentiate ourselves from the rest of the pack.
We need to stop dreading the “interview” and look at it as a real opportunity to breathe some life into our experience. That being said, particularly if you have a lot of experience, the interview is not a moment to ramble through your work history. Remember: less is more! Your details need to focus on specific experience that is strategically related to the job for which you are applying. For example, if you are applying for a job that involves creating networks of people and organizations which can be leveraged to collectively address a need, you should be prepared to share stories about the ways in which you have brought parties together, engaged and motivated them to act, and what results were achieved. Be brief and succinct but provide details that “tell” how you made it happen. You could describe how you identified key players and any challenges you faced bringing traditionally non-team players to the table. Hopefully, this involves gentle persuasion and not knocking heads together. Anyone can knock heads together, gentle persuasion where everyone feels part of a win-win solution is an art. And don’t be afraid to include a little humor. The person with whom you are interviewing wants to be assured you are committed but also that you do not consider work a forced march.
Listen to the ways in which you describe yourself. Are they relevant to the job at hand? Ask yourself if this sounds like a person with whom you would like to work? As you share your stories, your values, energy and enthusiasm will rise to the surface. These are not things you can manufacture. Greek characters were shaped and driven by their circumstances. Our personalities reflect choices we have made and provide a blueprint for choices we will make in the future. Those choices add meaning to our work and make our contributions meaningful – a compelling asset.