This week, I am house-sitting for friends who have chickens. And it has been cold. Snowy and cold. I made meticulous notes about how to care for the chickens because I really want them to live while I’m in charge here. If you want to talk about the chicken routine, I am very articulate and organized about it.
That’s because it’s easy to be clear about things that aren’t what I naturally do.
I consciously, methodically do the chicken routine. There are plenty of things in my life that are objectively much more difficult, and I’m not so clear at explaining how I do them. Like turning an engineer into a product manager on paper or uncovering what a person really wants in their work.
My guess is that you are not great at articulating the things you do intuitively, the things that are natural to you. I guess that because it comes up in 95% of the mock interviews I do.
The things that you aren’t great at articulating are often the things that potential hiring teams or potential customers want you to explain to them.
That’s why in interviews, you can be slowed down by questions like, “How do you (insert thing that you are brilliant at and have been doing for 20 years)?”
It’s also very standard that interviews include questions that are very relevant to their situation, like, “How would you handle (insert specific new scenario that the company is currently dealing with)?”
It’s hard to answer because:
You may have never dealt with that specific thing.
The real answer can be really long or complex.
You do it so intuitively that it’s almost disorienting to have to talk about it.
These are indicators of a moment in which you could share a framework. (I don’t want you to miss out on the work to someone who’s not even as good at it as you are, just more confident in answering interview questions.)
You can make your own framework or methodology right now if you want.
You get to pick it. Let it be imperfect.
Come up with something that your ideal company or customer would be struggling with that you can help with.
Jot down everything you would do if you were helping with that.
Group those things into buckets, or collect them generally into a step-by-step process with 3-5 steps, for simplicity.
When you’re asked a question that could benefit from you sharing your framework/methodology, speak it with certainty. And then, end with one of your successes; whatever is most relevant to the question. Even if it’s not exactly, perfectly aligned, again, speak it with certainty.
Here’s a sample template:
How would you handle XYZ scenario?
Sure. I always keep 4 things in mind in my work: one, two, three, and four. In this scenario, that could look like A, B, C, and D. In my role with (other past company), I supported their growth from X to Y% in a year.
It’s your own methodology, which means that you get to adjust it on the fly, as you know to do when you’re actually doing the work. The purpose of your methodology or framework is to provide the listener with relief.
If you have your own general framework/methodology, when you’re in unfamiliar territory, you get to be more grounded in your response, because the framework leads your response.
That makes you more confident, which is key, since communication is only minimally about your actual words, anyway.
Thanks for reading, I’m in your corner and available here, too.
Emma Garrett is an Executive Career Coach, helping high-integrity leaders position themselves for what’s next in work and life. Ready to start doing things differently? Consider scheduling a free call to share your situation and goals or checking out the resources at www.emma-garrett.com.