One of the many things I like about helping new graduates secure the jobs and salaries they have worked so hard to earn is interviewing recruiters.

I ask every recruiter I meet the same question, “What are hiring managers looking for during an interview?” You may wonder why a busy recruiter will take the time to answer my question.  It is because we share a common passion; helping people land a job they will find rewarding. They spend their days trying to find candidates who can impress a hiring manager.  I spend my days helping new graduates develop the skills they need to impress a hiring manager.

I recently spoke with an external recruiter who specializes in working with candidates in the IT industry. I thought he would respond to my question with a list of cutting-edge technologies. He shared that employers usually have no problem finding candidates with competitive skills. They have a very hard time finding candidates with the customer service and communication skills necessary to be successful in today’s corporate world.

If you have worked on project teams, been a member of a club, or enjoy talking with others, you have good communication skills. Telling a prospective employer that you have communication skills is not enough; you need to prove to the hiring manager that you can provide the level of customer service they are seeking.

Using accomplishment stories is the best way to demonstrate you have excellent communication skills. Use the following steps to build multiple accomplishment statements and be prepared to share them during your interview.

  1. Think of a time when others responded to your direction/explanation in a positive way.
  2. Build a story with a beginning (why was it necessary for you to provide the direction/explanation), middle (how you presented the information), and an end (what was the outcome of your efforts).
  3. Practice telling the story, out loud, several times until you can comfortably share it in 60-90 seconds.
  4. After sharing the accomplishment statement with the interviewer ask if they would like you to provide any further details.


For more ideas on how to build accomplishment statements, check out our free tip sheet on Translating Academic Achievement into Accomplishments.

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