UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

Tell a story, earn a job

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School“Walk me through your resume”–also phrased as “tell me about yourself”– is usually the first question that an interviewer asks. We all expect this question, yet very few people know how to answer it in a way that captivates the interviewer’s attention.

Looking back to my first year in college, I understand why I did not succeed in interviews. My opening response was boring; I simply recited my resume. The interviewer could have read my resume for the same effect. Additionally, I didn’t make my response memorable from the very beginning.

In their book Made to Stick, Dan and Chip Heath discuss several themes that make an idea sticky, such as telling stories and making your idea or response concrete. These two themes will make your answer memorable and guarantee that the interviewer won’t forget you when deciding who will receive the job or internship offer. 

Tell a story.

In his renowned interview guide Breaking into Wall Street, Brian DeChesare advises people to answer “walk me through your resume” in a story format. DeChesare recommends designing a response that includes a beginning, a spark, a flame, a why and a future. Each segment should link to the next, providing a narrative tone to this question. By doing so, you not only demonstrate why you want the job – you also highlight your communication skills, which are necessary in any profession.

For the beginning, discuss where you are from and why you chose to attend a certain college. For the spark, mention how you became interested in the job you are applying for. The next part is the flame section. Describe what you did to grow your interest in a particular profession. The spark and flame sections are important because you are able to highlight your internships or extracurricular activities and incorporate the skills you have gained from them.

After you have summed up your resume, address why you want to work for the company. One way to tackle this is by networking in advance, which helps you learn more about the company and its culture. Discussing connections you’ve formed and mentioning specific people will immediately make you stand out. Additionally, networking enables employees to associate a name and face with a resume and helps you make it past the infamous resume drop.

After discussing why you want to work for the company, finish your answer by stating your future goals and why the company is instrumental to your long-term goals. 

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business SchoolBe memorable.
An interviewer may interview ten or more people throughout the day. Most people fail to make themselves memorable to their recruiter. Therefore, other people may obtain the job because they came to the recruiter’s mind first.

In Made to Stick, Dan and Chip Heath discuss concreteness. Being concrete helps others relate to or perceive an idea or statement. You should intertwine unique and concrete experiences or activities into your story that differentiate you. For my spark, I discuss how losing two grandparents to cancer led to wanting to pursue a career in finance after joining Relay for Life because I realized I enjoyed using business as a vehicle to help people – specifically those battling cancer. Finance enables me, on a greater scale, to empower companies to achieve their goals.

Weaving in a personal connection enables the interviewee to stand out and relate personally to the recruiter. Add relevant details to your story that differentiate you and show how you are unique. 

Speak concisely.
When tackling “Walk me through you resume,” people face another problem: conciseness.

For example, saying, “I believe that accounting provides me the opportunity to do XYZ” is too long. You can simplify this statement by saying, “Accounting will enable me to do XYZ.”

These minor changes help you tell a concise and memorable story. Allow your personality to permeate your response. Interviewers are not only looking for people who are qualified but also people who are a good fit for their company.

By utilizing these three recommendations, you will captivate your interviewer and immediately stand out among your peers by the time you answer the first question.

The only thing left is to begin applying for jobs. Are you ready to start winning offers?

By Michael Cacciatore (BSBA ’17)

This post has been republished with permission from the author. View the original post here.

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