Tech talk needs a pep talk


As an international preparing for STEM field interviews in the USA, you need to be more assertive and more confident. Combine confidence and assertiveness with great storytelling skills, and you’re ready to go.

Your voice has to be strong and confident when you tell a story. The stories you tell at job interviews are sometimes called vignettes, but that’s not strong enough. Vignettes are now called super stories. You have to impress your listener, and a “vignette” will not do that, but a super story will. Super stories are generally short, about two minutes. However, this is not a rule. Your super story should take as long to tell as is necessary. The key is to hold the interviewer’s interest. No, forget that. The key is to impress the interviewer. Because of your story, the interviewer has to think and feel “Wow! What a great story!” You impress the interviewer by promoting yourself as the hero in your super stories.  What problem did you solve? What objective did you reach? What were the results and the benefits? What did you overcome? What mountain did you climb? What system did you implement? What information did you discover? What were the results of your research and analysis? What did you do to make people happy? Results, results, results, results. You have to state the results. That’s what someone pays you for; that’s what a company hires you for: results and outcomes, not a process.

Stop speaking “tech”

You’re a technical person trained in a science field, some type of technology, engineering of some sort, or mathematics, right? You’re in a STEM field. Maybe, the interviewer will be a technical person, as well, with the same training and background. So that means you speak the same language in a way. Right? Maybe, but I wouldn’t count on it. When you tell super stories at job interviews, you cannot sound like you’re reading a research report, an instruction manual, a thesis, or a dissertation. Keep in mind that this is business, not academia, and you have to tell a story that impresses the interviewer, that is to say the employer or the hiring manager. And to do this,  being humble and soft-spoken won’t help you. You have to let the interviewer, or interviewers, know how great you are through the tone of your voice when you tell stories. It has to be implicit in this manner. You’ve got to develop some enthusiasm. Your story has to appeal to the interviewer in a kind of visceral way. Don’t be so low key. Get a little louder, and speak up. You have to really be into it. Don’t sound monotonous. Be expressive, speak up, and be a dynamic story teller. You’ve got great content for stories, and now you have to wrap it up and deliver it using the right language, that is to say strong language. You’ve got to speak with impact.

Speak up

With your super story, you are telling people why they should hire you. Your cover letter got someone to read your résumé, and your résumé got you the job interview. Now, your super stories have to get you hired. But it’s not just the super stories. The results and outcomes, or the endings, of your super stories get you hired. As you get to the end of a story, that is to say as you begin to talk about results and outcomes, your voice should get a little louder. You need a crescendo to your story; you’ve got to build up your super story.  Do not keep your voice low, and do not be boring because you are not merely providing information here. The ending is you stating the result, benefit, or the outcome of what you did.  The ending is you telling the hiring manager why you are going to be the best choice for the position. That’s right you. It’s what you did. You are the hero of your super stories. At the end of your super story, you say how and why you are the hero of your story. What was the result? What was the benefit? Who received the benefit of the result? Tell the interviewer this information at the end of your super story, and you tell the interviewer how and why you are the hero of the story. And with that, you tell the interviewer why the company should employ you. It’s implicit. Make it happen.

Do not memorize anything or try to memorize anything.

Don’t memorize your stories. At most, just remember important key phrases and key words. Does that sound familiar? Right, searching for employment is a marketing and advertising project. You tell success stories, accomplishment stories, and problem solving stories. And make them simple and easy to follow. Use simple outlines to practice telling super stories at job interviews. Again, do not memorize a story or try to memorize a story. It will not work.

Start  practicing telling stories for STEM field interviews. Here’s an outline to get started:

1) Identify the problem, the objective, or the goal. Why did you set out to do this? What was the purpose? Who needed you to do this and why?

2) Tell what you did, step by step, to achieve the result. What did you do? What action did you take? Keep it simple.

3) Tell who benefited from the result, how they benefited, and why they benefited. Again, state the results and outcomes. Your work pleased someone or made someone happy. Talk about that. Make your story appeal to the interviewer in a kind of visceral way.