Ibrahim Sowunmi

Ibs' Tips: Interview Framework

From a hodgepodge collection of things I’ve learnt an employed to moderate success. It’s essential to prep yourself when job hunting. There are 3 key elements to focus on. Pitch, Perosnal SWOT & Transformation Stories.

Pitch - Personal SWOT - Transformation Stories

Once these have been done once, write it down, update it, like a CV, it should grow with you.


Likely the most important part. Most hiring managers make their decision in the first 7 minutes. That’s a lot of Bias to overcome and not much time to do it.

This means that you have to hit em with the ol “limbic hook”, asap. Get them engaged early because by the time you’ve answered their first question they’ve already made up their mind.

The first question is typically a variation of “tell me about yourself”. So having a concise, consistent, and well prepared pitch at the back of you mind, helps to convey the best you! Internalise it. It should be the same nearly everytime.

The thing with the pitch, is that most people suck at it. In this scenario people ramble, A LOT, telling the person on the other side of the table all sorts. Previous roles, exeprience, projects, etc. It’s boring and somewhat painful.

To make it less painful keep it short, between 1 - 2 minute. Pitching yourself for more than 2 minutes is crazy. You have to be doing some seriosuly impressive shit to talk about your background for two minutes without rambling.

So a rough pitch structure would be as followed:

  • Who are you?
  • What about you is recognisable?
  • What makes you special?
  • What are you trying to do?

Go for simplicity, clarity and brevity. Get your vision out there, refine, practice, internalise. Then you can use it wherever. Not just in interviews.

I’ll use an anonymous example. I’ve written out a longer version here, adding some extra provides nice mental scaffolding when communicating this.

(Who) I’m Jane Doe

(WW you recognise) I am a Sales Engineer at Tech Company, with an industry alignment. In addition to that I’m [Skill] certified, with a technical skew. Before that I was a [Past Experience] whilst completing a degree in [Education].

(What makes me special) My speciality is establishing processes breaking down complex topics into understandable chunks. An example of this is the [Tech Company] engagement process had some inefficiencies. A I went through the bootcamp, industry alignment, product learning and customer engagement workflow. I logged EVERYTHING in a document and categorised it. Added my own spin to a lot of the process and repackaged it. By the time I was up and running I was already a trusted resource and as I polished it off I was able to reshare that document rapidly speaking up enablement time of others.

(What am I trying to do) I’m not sure but theres a lot I enjoy, I want to go into a director/vp/manager/business owner type role and I think what career path is best suited to give me those skills. At my level this is as close to ideal as I’m going to get without the risk. I just want to be intellectually challenged and develop expertise.

Personal SWOT

A SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) is a planning tool that helps with self-awareness and solidifies your mental scaffold. Aim for 5 for each, they don’t have to be perfect.


  • Solid technical foundation
  • Problem Solving and analytics skills
  • Able to communicate complex concept to technical and non technical stakeholders
  • Broad interest in a variety of topics
  • Good and comfortable with asking for help


  • Lacking technical expertise
  • Maintaining relationships across wide groups
  • Bored by non-challenging work, slower to complete
  • Limited expose to certain industries
  • Occasional challenges in managing multiple project simultaneously, lowers efficiency


  • Increasing demand for people with a Customer facing skew
  • De-emphasising of people with deep code skills via GPT tooling
  • Inflation is affecting commercial banks, people are looking for alternative means. Lower interchange fees and ease of use
  • Establishing process within a beginning program


  • Intense competition meaning a constant need to up skill
  • Getting lost in the scope of the company
  • Not keeping up with change within the industry
  • Regulatory changes affecting the business
  • Macroeconomic crisis, CBDCs, banking sectors, upstart

Transformation stories

Storytelling has always been a challenge for me, particularly under pressure. However, with the help of my colleagues, I learnt to incorporate methodologies like the Pixar story spine into my storytelling approach. I eventually realized that all stories have a certain flow, regardless of whether they are part of a TV show, an interview using the STAR or CARR method, or simply sharing a story with friends.

For interviews, I found a modified version of the STAR method more engaging: Context, Challenge, Solution, Value of Solution, and Outcome. This approach has proven successful in my experience, as I’ve applied it to interviews with positive results. Below, I’ll share examples of this storytelling structure, illustrating each step from Context to Outcome.

Give me a story about a time you demonstrated resilience


  • Technical advisor
  • Sometimes no BANT (Do they have Budget, Authority, Need, Timeline)
  • Used to rejection
  • High ACV project with a demanding finance client
  • AE attached was at risk of PIP


  • Working on deal, research, presentation
  • CTO met the CRM with skepticism
  • I could see I was losing the audience
  • Ask for more time


  • Industry advisor
  • Specific alternatives


  • Speak their language


  • More relatable


  • Develop more trust
  • On the screen I could see nods of approval


  • Head of sales Confirmed on the call that they were buying

Give me an example of a time you made a difference that had a measurable impact. - Curiosity


  • SE for a specific industry
  • Given a customer that supplies a large food chain


  • Using outdated methods for managing Trade spend
  • Resulting in overstocking and missed sales
  • with board 2 months
  • Demo to 12 different stakeholders, 8 execs are important


  • Leaning into stakeholder
  • Job to be done framework to understand need
  • Creating a customer journey - that hits all 8 execs
  • Deepen understanding of Trade promotion management


  • Worked closely with account team prior to demo
  • Message that resonated with each exec
  • Called them by their names/titles for rapport


  • Took the time to understand industry solution
  • Spoke the language of the execs
  • Develop trust


  • But from out back of the napkin math - we aimed for a 5% decrease in negative industry metric.


  • Became the owner of that account
  • Secure a sizeable lucrative partner from a small deal

Give me an example of a time you resolved a conflict. - Humble


  • Deal for FS company
  • AE, Customer


  • We had an advocate who was particularly rude
  • He would interrupt
  • He would say I didn’t understand the industry enough to be able to pose a solution
  • Claim the AE was exaggerating ROI


  • During a break we went aside and strategised
  • Had to meet him head on and alay his concerns


  • More assertive when we came back
  • Emphasis on objection handling


  • Brought a partner that had domain expertise to help him concerns


  • Introduced him to a client that had some a similar thing in the past


  • To our surprise by the end his demeanour softened quite a bit
  • In the end he thanked us for being patient and apologised for being hot headed
  • Didn’t purchase but trial - and stay in contact
  • Reminder to stay professional

So all in all, I recommend preparing yourself in three key areas: Pitch, Personal SWOT, and Transformation Stories.

Your pitch is crucial, as most hiring managers make their decision within the first 7 minutes. Develop a strong opening pitch that covers who you are, what makes you recognizable, what makes you special, and what you’re trying to achieve. Keep it simple, clear, and brief.

Conduct a Personal SWOT analysis to enhance self-awareness and identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This helps you understand where you excel, areas to improve, and potential risks and opportunities in your career path.

Lastly, prepare transformation stories to showcase your experiences in interviews. Focus on Context, Challenge, Solution, Value of the solution, and Outcome. This structure helps create engaging stories and demonstrates your skills and abilities in various situations. If it was a film it would be trash, but to get your foot through the door it suffices.

Good luck!