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Tell Your Whole Story in an Interview

Your career didn’t start with your first job.

I start job interviews with the same question every time: “Tell me about your path leading up to today. Why is this role the right fit for you now?”

What happens next is predictable:

“My first job out of college was at an international aid organization…”

“I worked for a number of years in publishing before I…”

“I started out in finance but then…”

I typically wait for a pause and ask candidates to start earlier. I tell them that I want to hear the details from their story that illustrate what drives them—their purpose. They often raise eyebrows, giggle nervously, or cross their arms.

“How far back do you want me go?”

“As far as you can,” I invite them.

Few candidates have rehearsed a response.

This is because we typically tell our professional stories beginning with our first job. After all, that’s what’s on our resumes and so it’s the narrative we tell ourselves and others about our work life. But that’s not when our stories begin…

Continue reading on Harvard Business Review Blog, and start thinking about your past might reveal about your future.

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