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Connect the Dots!

Superstar interviewees know that it's their job to connect the dogs in any interview. Never should an interview end and the hiring manager has to ask themselves, "will this person fit here, why do they want to do the job, are they a fit?" It's up to you to be proactive and answer those questions, without relying on being asked.

Every question you are asked - Every. Single. Question. - is an opportunity to naturally share why you are a fit / what qualifies you / why you want it, etc.

It's up to you to understand the company and know not only what the job entails but what it takes to excel. Then you have to find the relatable experiences from your own background and proactively share the stories that help the hiring manager see you in the role.

Leanne Ralston illustrates this well in a blog post on Education Week. Here's an excerpt:

Expect open-ended questions such as:

  • Tell us about a time you showed flexibility and creativity.

  • What is your typical role on a team?

  • Describe a time you went the extra mile.

  • How do you manage multiple responsibilities at the same time?

The best way to take your interview to the next level is by telling stories to illustrate your personality and show your aptitude for the position. For example, it is boring and does not show your personality to give short answers such as, "I tutored a ten year old boy who was struggling in math last summer." It is much better to tell a complete story with a typical story arc. For example:


  • Last summer, I tutored a ten year old boy with ADHD who was behind in his grade level in math skills.


  • I found it challenging to engage him. He had no apparent interest in math. Any workbooks or traditional methods of teaching math held no interest for him.

  • After discussing his interests outside of schoolwork, I figured out he liked playing outside and he liked video games. I developed a variety of indoors and outdoors hands-on activities using play money and video game scenarios and characters.


  • For the first time, he engaged with the concepts and was excited to solve the problems. He was able to increase his understanding and was prepared for the start of the new school year at his grade level.


  • In the end, I learned it was important to understand that students have different learning styles and that the teacher must understand and meet the student from where the student begins.

  • Since this position will be working with several students with ADHD and other issues, my skills of adaptability and creativity will serve me well in this position.

Stories should not be lengthy and should take only a couple of minutes to tell. Primarily, they need to be pertinent to the question asked. Even a very entertaining story does not serve its purpose if it has no connection to the position or to the question posed in the interview. Be sure to make those clear connections as part of your conclusion!

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