Three stories to keep in your back pocket

Create a stronger impression on the job hunt.

There are three types of stories to keep in your back pocket as you head into the design interview process to make a stronger impression. In this post we’ll go through the following:

  • The origin story

  • The “why” behind your decisions

  • Working with an individual or group through challenges

Let’s dive in.

The origin story

Tell a story that’s uniquely you. Jennifer Aaker, professor of marketing at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, explains that stories are up to 22 times more memorable than facts alone. Here is a technique that I’ve found helpful if you need somewhere to start.

  1. Plot significant milestones in your career; highlights and low lights included.

  2. Under each section, define why it was meaningful and what you learned from them.

  3. Take note of the most salient milestones and how they’ve played a role in your journey to this point.

  4. Connect how you see it is a critical component of how it applies to the position or organization you are looking to join.

This is an excellent way to present yourself to the team and create rapport as you go deeper into the interview process.

Explain the why behind your decision, constraints, and specific examples in practice.

This gives your interview panel a look into your design ethos and how you prioritize key decisions. Below are a few questions worth asking yourself but it’s good in practice “Why-proof” the design process you’ll be presenting.

  • Why did you consider one research method over another?

  • Why did you prioritize one feature over another?

Design will always happen in consideration of constraints which it’s why it’s so important to include those in your “why”. Constraints can be due to time, budget, engineering debt, so you’ll want to highlight these to give more context to your audience.

Working with an individual or group.

You are not only working through a problem space but working with other stakeholders as well. It can be a balancing act working between, research, engineering, and product stakeholders since they all have their own motivations, perspectives, and personalities.

This will persist throughout your career and tough challenges will arise at some point or another that you’ll need to confront. Here are a few common scenarios I’ve come across.

  • Confronting the challenge with your stakeholder and tackling the problem head-on. The outcome of this doesn’t necessarily need to be successful but the fact that you’ve aligned to work to a solution is what matters.

  • Lack of growth opportunities. Sometimes you’re not being challenged at all, and that’s ok. Be able to speak to the types of growth you’d like to see in your career.

  • Leaving a company because there was a challenge and you didn’t put in effort confront. Most challenges can be met with some conversation and approach but if no effort was committed and you had an opportunity to, it may not reflect well in the interview process.

  • Personality conflict - Sometimes you just don’t jive with your team. This does happen from time to time. If you have anything that isn’t constructive to say about your former colleagues, it would be best to keep to yourself. This can be seen as a red flag in most cases because what’s to say it won’t happen in your new employer.

This isn’t an exhaustive list but put some thought into being able to speak to this. Every situation is unique but it’s best not to get caught off guard.