Perfect Your Interview Pitch—With a Little Rapid-Prototyping

Posted In: First Jobs
Posted On: 2/14/2013

Job interviews scare the bejesus out of me. Even when you have done it a gzillion times and you have aced your research on the company and you have a killer resume, it is still intimidating to get it all just right in that short window of time called the interview. But you can get it right by using a little tactic that I picked up from my friends at ReWork.  That little tactic is called rapid-prototyping. Here is the quick background: recently, I mentored at the Flatirons Food Scrimmage, an event led by the team at ReWork.  Fourteen amazing companies gathered there to make progress on specific issues related to their companies. Over one hundred local experts-like yours truly- offered their help by participating in the problem solving of various teams.  The process used by the ReWork folks at this event is called rapid-prototyping and it was developed by Tom Chi of Google X fame. Hang with me a moment while I explain how the rapid-prototyping process works. The basic framework is that you present your concept to a user and he/she gives you immediate feedback on that concept.  You then rapidly iterate your next version of the concept to incorporate their thinking and re-present the new & improved version to another user.  They give you feedback and you iterate a new, improved version again.  You work through this rapid-prototyping process several times, all the while refining your concept to make it stronger and stronger.  And you do it over a very short period of time, like an afternoon. In my day at the Scrimmage, one of the teams I worked with represented Runa, a natural tea product that gives you energy without the jitters of coffee (that’s us in the image). “Clean energy” is what the Runa team calls their competitive difference and as I stood at the whiteboard, they were getting my reaction as a consumer (not a consultant) to several tag lines.  Based on my reaction, they refined their tag lines and then presented them to another consumer.  By the end of the Scrimmage, they had a compelling consumer message that articulated their “clean energy” position. So, just as the Runa team used rapid-prototyping to refine and strengthen their product message, here’s how you can use rapid-prototyping to communicate your unique value and nail that job interview. First, you need a partner in crime who can play the part of your interviewer.  Pick someone who will give you frank, honest feedback because you want to work out the bugs BEFORE you get in the interview.  Second, think through the most important messages that you want to get across in your interview.  For example, you have three things that you want the interviewer to know about you:  1) track record of accomplishment; 2) hard work ethic; 3) strong leadership skills. Next, think of concise, concrete examples that demonstrate and quantify those messages. This is where the rapid-prototyping comes into play in your interview rehearsal. Pitch your “story” without interruption to your pretend interviewer.  Have him/her tell you what worked and what didn’t.  Take 30 minutes and refine your message to be tighter, more streamlined and then pitch it again uninterrupted.  Let them give you feedback again.  Do this several times until you have a truly compelling message about your strengths.  A message that you will remember, even under the pressure of an interview.  A message that gives you confidence about how good you really are! Practice makes perfect.  Rapid-prototyping is practice on steroids!  Knock ‘em dead!