Use Accomplishment Stories at Your Interview

Many people ask me, “But what do I have to sell? Why would an employer select me over other candidates?” The answer is that you need to sell your contributions – and these are best expressed through a clever tool called your Accomplishment Stories.

You need to understand these things:

  • The success of your negotiations will be in direct proportion to the quality of the stories you tell.
  • The employer is looking for “transferrable skills.”
  • These are the most important “features and benefits” that you can offer!

So, write at least seven to 10 stories from any time in your career when you felt proud of your efforts. Structure each story by answering the following questions:

  1. What was the problem, need or challenge?
  2. What did you do about it? (Not the company or team – you!)
  3. How did you do it, specifically?
  4. What positive results did you produce?  (Quantify if possible)
  5. What skills did you demonstrate?
NOTE: Select 3-4 of the following skill words per story:

Management                    Observation                  Communication

Leadership                         Presentation                  Persuasion

Analysis                                Innovation                      Team Building

Problem Solving               Follow-Through               Organization

Whenever you’re at an interview, listen carefully for the employer’s greatest needs, challenges and frustrations. When you hear skill words from this list (or something close), offer to tell one of your accomplishment stories. What you want to do is paint a detailed picture of a time when you successfully handled a similar situation. The interviewer will take notice because he or she will understand how your proven achievements are directly related to the organization’s current issues.

Negotiation Strategy

Simply put, your strategy is based on knowing exactly what you want out of the negotiation, vs. what you need. Most people don’t know the difference, which gets them into trouble. Let’s look at an example of this side-by-side comparison:

Or take a real step up in lifestyle, etc.



To maintain your current standard of living, not to lose your home or have to take the children out of school, etc.In order to make your life much more comfortable,

Or take a real step up in lifestyle, etc.

$60,000 Base$70,000 Base
Two Weeks’ VacationFour Weeks’ Vacation
Benefits in three MonthsBenefits Now
Management RollDirector Title
TransportationCompany Car
Decent WorkspacePrivate Office
Severance PayOutplacement

The bottom line is that you need to know in advance what you’re willing to trade, and what you’re not. Make your own list before you enter into negotiations.

Now, you might be asking yourself, “What’s negotiable and what’s not?” The answer might surprise you!