Tell Your Best Story and Get Hired Before Your Interview


A well-crafted LinkedIn profile is the best way to tell your story and communicate your value to prospective employers. Presenting a compelling career narrative is not just a catalog of past roles or achievements. It reveals the essence of your professional impact: your approach to challenges, your leadership approach, your unique working style, and the values that anchor you. It’s the best way to get hired in a crowded and often confusing job marketplace.

Leveraging the Power of “Pre-Selling”

In the world of sales and marketing, the concept of “pre-selling” isn’t new. It’s all about warming up the customer, setting the right expectations, and ensuring they’re already inclined to make a purchase even before the actual sales pitch. But have you ever considered that the same concept can be applied to help you get hired? 

For job interviews, “pre-selling” means telling your story so that you create a strong, positive impression on potential employers before the actual interview. It’s about making sure that when you walk into that room, your potential employer already has a solid understanding of your value, and is inclined to see you as a fit for the role.

This doesn’t eliminate the need to perform well in the interview, but it does give you a competitive edge.

A person writing on a piece of paper at a desk.

Before Your Interview: Your Profile Gives You a Head Start

Your LinkedIn profile is most often the first point of contact with potential employers. When designed and optimized correctly to tell your story, it can transition from a passive backdrop to an active tool, providing context, validation, and depth to your career narrative. Your profile is not simply a listing of skills and accomplishments. It’s an effective introduction that can make the interviewer feel like they know you before they even meet you.

Narrative-driven Approach: 

A LinkedIn profile that tells your story doesn’t just list facts. Stories are powerful tools for persuasion. They can resonate with the reader, fostering a sense of connection and alignment even before the first handshake.

Draw the reader into your story. Share who you are, not just what you’ve done. Share your thought leadership, sense of purpose, and the goals of your career trajectory. In an era where fit and alignment are as crucial to employers as skills, your story aids decision-makers in arriving at their own “ah ha” epiphany moment about you and where you can go with their organization. 

Trust and Credibility: 

A consistent and engaging profile establishes trust. When your claims in the interview match up with the background, achievements, and recommendations on your profile, it boosts your credibility exponentially. It shows you’re not just knowledgeable, but also thorough and invested in your professional presentation.

Setting the Agenda 

Having established a strong career narrative, you’re able to walk into the interview with a complete set of talking points. You’ll be able to steer the conversation towards your strengths from the get-go. Since your interviewer has most likely reviewed your LinkedIn profile, they will already have a mental outline of what to expect. 

Validation through Recommendations:

When colleagues, managers, or reports vouch for you via LinkedIn recommendations, it offers third-party validation. This is the career version of “social proof” in e-commerce – something we’ve all come to expect. Knowing that others have had positive experiences with you further reinforces your value beyond just the interviewer’s own experience.

Make sure to ask your recommenders to focus on the full range of your skills, but especially the details of your unique capabilities and niche skills. These granular reflections will help your interviewer better understand exactly what you do, and how it can apply to the position you are interviewing for.

Showcasing Professional Engagement: 

Through a mix of your posts, articles, and insights shared in comments with others, your LinkedIn profile helps the interviewer assess and understand the full range of your professional capabilities. This includes your thought leadership, industry knowledge, and strategic thinking.

Your engagement is not self-promotion. Regularly engaging with your network—commenting on their achievements, sharing insightful resources, or sparking discussions—not only shows that you’re well-connected but also that you value collaboration and community. This paints a picture of you as someone approachable, collegial, and open to discussing new ideas.

Evidence-based Visual Validation

Using the Featured Section of the LinkedIn Creator Mode feature lets you add recent press clips, videos, and photos of events you’ve attended or spoken at. These tangible examples of your professional presence are great talking points. Instead of making general claims, you’ll be able to steer the discussion towards these concrete examples, underscoring your claims with evidence.

Showcasing Continuous Learning

Professional development underscores dedication to your profession and to a growth mindset. Listing recent courses, certifications, or webinars attended not only showcases your skill set but also your drive to stay updated. 

Make sure to mention your learning activities in your Experience section, not just in the Education or Licenses & Certifications sections. Share how your ongoing learning contributed to specific successes and achievements.

Thought Leadership Content

Posting original articles may be challenging to create on a regular basis, but doing so is a great way to elaborate on the fine points of what you’ve learned through your many and varied experiences in your career.

This is especially impactful when your content garners engagement in the form of likes, shares, or comments, highlighting validation from other peers.

Group Participation

While your interviewer probably won’t check up on your level of participation in the LinkedIn Groups you’re a member of, this is another indicator of your professional commitment. Your choice of groups indicates your strategic interest in topics and people relevant to your expertise. It is yet another example of your dedication to learning and growing through exposure to ideas and trends that will affect your own performance.

Taking the Reins: Driving the Interview Agenda

Traditionally, the interviewer holds the roadmap, guiding the conversation’s direction and pace. But what if you could change that dynamic, shifting from a passive participant to an active driver of the interview’s agenda? 

When you walk into that interview room with a strong LinkedIn profile backing you up, you’re walking in with an edge. You’re no longer just a candidate; you’re a contender. Your interview will no longer be a one-sided interrogation to validate your background and ask pro forma questions.  It becomes a strategic discussion between two professionals, establishing your place not just as a potential employee but as a valuable asset to the organization.

By using your profile as a script, you’re making a case that your interviewer is already familiar with.

Showcasing Proactivity

Interviewers appreciate candidates who come prepared, demonstrating their seriousness about the position. When you drive the agenda, you show that you’ve done your homework, understand the role’s requirements, and have thought about your potential contribution. This is the same level of preparation and decisiveness you’ll bring to the role should they hire you.

Highlighting Alignment

Direct your interviewer’s attention to the aspects of your background that relate directly to the role. Also ask them which areas of your background they would like you to clarify.  Look for opportunities to confirm that you both see the same value and applicability of your background and capabilities to support the fundamentals of the job description. Your interviewer will be reassured that you already see and understand your potential fit.

Facilitating Depth Over Breadth: 

Guiding the interview agenda allows you to delve deeper into topics that best showcase your expertise and value proposition, rather than skimming the surface of multiple areas. Look for at least one key opportunity to “go down the rabbit hole” with your interviewer so that they can really see your critical and strategic thinking at work.

This could be in relation to a specific achievement or project listed in your Experience section, or to a key lesson that you mention in your About section.

Referencing Thought Leadership and Learning: 

Your interviewer will have seen examples of your thought leadership in your Featured and Activity sections (when implementing the Creator Mode in your profile). They will also have seen how you are continuing to engage in professional learning and development.

Look for opportunities to bring one or two of these references into the conversation to reinforce the value that you bring to the position. This demonstrates your mindfulness and focused sense of purpose. These activities are not random: they contribute directly to your effectiveness and productivity as a professional.

Highlighting Peer Recognition and Recommendations: 

Bring up your Recommendations as a way to reinforce your reputation and credibility, while also addressing the professional references that every employer asks for.

Look for ways to mention one or two of your recommenders in connection with specific aspects or responsibilities of the position you’re applying for. Perhaps they partnered with you on an assignment that’s relevant to the role. Perhaps they supervised you or reported to you and can shed light on a specific set of skills that would be important in the position.

By mentioning them, you’re essentially inviting the interviewer to reach out to them to further validate your application in a very specific and helpful context.

Reference Thought Leaders and Industry Leaders You Follow

Another way to highlight your alignment with the position is to point to the well-known and well-respected leaders you follow on LinkedIn. You might even mention them in the conversation to underscore a statement about your approach or management philosophy.

This adds further nuance to your skills and talents and reveals the underlying philosophies, methodologies, and leadership styles that you find effective and laudable. If they dovetail with the mission and culture of the organization, it adds an additional layer of credibility and reinforces your fit.

Establishing Rapport Beyond Your Profile

In the realm of job interviews, experience and skills might get your foot in the door, but building a sense of rapport with your interviewer is the best way to seal the deal.

Again, if you’re in the interview, you know that you already look good “on paper.” In addition to confirming your fit objectively, you also have to appeal subjectively and answer the question: “Is this someone I want to see and work with every day?”

Show Genuine Interest

Your interview isn’t just about you. Your willingness to extend yourself on a personal level can establish a connection with the interviewer that can facilitate a deeper connection and make them more inclined to like, accept, and support you for the position.

Ask at least one question about who they are, the values they bring to their work, or a defining experience that continues to motivate them. If you share a similar experience or can relate one of your experiences to what they’re talking about, you can create a bond. 

That can be even more powerful if the experience you share is already part of your profile. Once the interview is over, just reading over that part of your profile will bring up that connection for the interviewer, further enhancing your fit.

Find Your Shared Mission

If your About section includes a mission statement or your vision for how you want to impact your business or industry through your work, this is a great way to build additional rapport with your interviewer. Look for an opportunity to ask them about why they do what they do, and see if you can draw parallels between the two of you for the values that drive you.

You don’t have to have the exact same vision or mission, but if they understand and respect where you’re coming from, it can give them a sense of trust and comfort that you are motivated by a similar sense of purpose and integrity. That can be a valuable asset and quality in a colleague. When things get tough at work, a deadline is looming, or a deal goes South, they already know in the interview that you’ll be someone they can count on.

Be Generous: Give Credit Where Credit is Due

No man is an island, and your career achievements and successes are best measured by the gratitude and appreciation you bestow on others. One important way to create a bond with your interviewer is to identify the colleagues (including managers and reports) who helped you achieve those successes that you are so proud of. 

Your generosity is a sign of maturity and confidence. Your ability to share the credit and value the contributions of others is a sure sign that you will be a great team player.

The Job is Yours to Lose: Turning the Interview into a Mere Formality with the Power of Your Profile

This concept of “pre-selling” oneself isn’t about bragging or overselling. It’s about laying the groundwork, ensuring that by the time you step into an interview, there’s a holistic understanding of who you are, both professionally and personally. Every recommendation, each shared post, and your thoughtful articles contribute to a digital tapestry that tells your story—a story of dedication, growth, and integrity.

This pre-selling transforms the interview process. No longer is it an interrogation or a test. Instead, it becomes a conversation, a two-way street where both parties seek alignment and mutual purpose. With the strong foundation set by your story, the interview can turn into a formality—a rubber stamp confirming what the employer has already discerned: that you’re the right fit.

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John Tarnoff is an executive and career transition coach, speaker, and author who supports mid and late-career professionals in defining, planning, and achieving more meaningful and sustainable careers.

Fired 39% during his 35 years as a film producer, studio executive and tech entrepreneur, he learned how to turn setbacks into successes in a volatile business. He reinvented his own career at 50, earning a master’s degree in counseling psychology to share his career lessons with others going through similar challenges.

Since leaving entertainment in 2010, John has coached individuals, groups, and led career workshops for university alumni, including for UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. Corporate coaching clients have included Bank of America, Bridgewater Assoc., Levi-Strauss, Softbank, TD Ameritrade, and Thrive Global.

He is the author of the best-selling Boomer Reinvention: How to Create your Dream Career Over 50 and has been named a Top Influencer in Aging by PBS/NextAvenue.


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