• Mel Butcher

Your Second Job as a YP: Interview Preparation (2/2)

Updated: 3 days ago



This post is part 2 of looking at the interview preparation assignment "Haley" worked through. You can access the first article here.


You'll recall that before Haley's interview, I gave her an assignment: 1) Write out your list of questions for the potential employer, and 2) Write out several things that you have led in your career, as a student, for an organization, etc. with narrative.


The second part is by far the most difficult. It's hard for everyone, including me, to look back at what we've completed and achieved and to articulate clearly in a positive light. Graceful boasting is something we encourage and practice regularly inside A Career that Soars (ACtS!), because for many women, this is something we have been shamed away from doing.


For an interview, you've got to be prepared to speak clearly about contributions, and that's why this preparation leading to it is important.


What I'm sharing here are the things that Haley wrote down as having led (shown in italics) and what I asked her to do to re-word/re-think on these to better reflect her true contributions, as they are many!


Reflecting on "Things I've Led"


Confidential industrial client - [Redacted] Software Module Implementation & Deployment

  • Led the demo and conversation about the workflow process of incident reporting tool for the client

  • You must spell out what this means and its impact. "Successfully led a conversation" conveys nothing to the reader/listener in terms of outcome or impact. Did you lead a conversation that helped the client understand the need for the module resulting in a sale? Did you lead a conversation that helped train the client on using the module? Did you lead a conversation that showcased the software's capabilities resulting in a client happy with their purchase? Tell us!

  • Designed/translated business requirements to technical system design with team architects. Executed successful module deployment for enterprise use that is now being used by over 100,000 [redacted] professionals world-wide

  • The way this is written now is somewhat task oriented, but you did a fantastic job in the second sentence using enterprise language and giving scope to the reader/listener using a numeric value - excellent! I think in the first sentence, though, you're underselling. It is no small feat to act as the translator between a client with complex needs and the architects working behind the scenes. Your ability to understand both sides and switch your messaging to accomodate the needs of both technical and non-technical is invaluable. Another way to convey this might be something like - "I served as a client advocate, investigating their software needs and wants with empathy; then, I articulated these needs to a team of architects, ensuring they were able to complete the work accurately, which resulted in timely project completion and a satisfied client." What do you think?

Confidential industrial client - [Redacted] Software Module Implementation & Deployment

  • Explained to clients how they can leverage their [redacted] software to automate and embed their business processes in the system

  • Think about your wording here. If you changed "explained" to "collaborated with the client to cultivate understanding of ___, which resulted in ___...", how would the impact of the statement change? What were the results that matter to the business? Did the client purchase and deploy it, resulting in a profitable project? Did it help the client track a business function, ultimately helping them save money? In short - what were the outcomes?

[Redacted] client

  • Conducted client training for more than 15 [redacted] Officers on system enhancements in the [redacted] applications

  • Here's a way we might reword this for more impact: I conducted training on specific application system enhancements for multiple client leaders resulting in well-equipped officers that could use their new systems with ease and had the ability to train other staff members themselves. - For someone unfamiliar with your story and work, our goal is to make it easy for them to understand your contributions.

[Redacted] Internal Project - Summer Intern Summit

  • Successfully organized a summer internship program for business line. Consisted of # interns across North America.

  • What did the interns get out of this? What did the company get out of this? Did they get the chance to vet young talent in advance? Did the company end up hiring any of these interns full time? Do you understand the business impacts of hiring an intern versus having to use an expensive search agent to find a professional candidate? You did more than just host a fun experience for some interns, but you have to identify those contributions (enrichment & learning for the interns, but also the business impact, such as saving recruiting costs for the business) and articulate it.

This exercise can be difficult for any early career professional. If you're preparing for an interview, consider writing out several things you have led and reviewing it with a colleague or mentor. Practicing saying these things out loud is also one great thing you can do to prepare for the interview.

Before you go do that, let's take a closer look at Activities, Results, and Outcomes. For that, let's turn to an excerpt from No Ceiling, No Walls by Susan Coalntuono:

Activities: are projects, programs, initiatives or steps in a process that are undertaken for their positive impacts on outcomes.
Results: are the measurable parameters of activities. They contribute to, but aren't the same as outcomes.
Outcomes: are the direct measurable impact on the organization's financial targets and strategic outcomes in the areas of cash, growth, return and customer...

As you progress in your career, your responsibilities will shift. As an entry level staffer, your responsibilities primarily lie in the Activities category. In the world of consulting engineering, this typically means doing the billable work.


When you progress from "doer" to manager and into higher levels of leadership, your responsibilities begin to fall more and more into the Results and Outcomes categories. The sooner you can recognize and articulate how your work contributes to Results and Outcomes, and the sooner you can lead teams to outcomes that are positive for the business, the more you empower yourself and the more others will begin to see you as the leader you are.


You got this!


Many engineering schools do a poor job of preparing young people for non-technical aspects of the workplace, including landing a job. If you have a career question or conundrum in this vein, feel welcome to send me a message or leave a voice message for us on the Lead to Soar speak pipe and I'll do my best to get your question answered.

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