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What's in it for me?


What’s in it for me?
A recent coaching session I had with a student gave a timely reminder of this phrase/question. I thought I would share with you all.

I received a text from a student who I had worked with before, on a job interview preparation, saying could I help with her interview for a PhD. I agreed and after the interview I received a further text saying she had been shortlisted and now had a more formal interview and had to do a presentation – this is where the help was needed.

We agreed a date and time for our Skype session and I received a copy of the presentation beforehand. Through the coaching she was able to tweak what was already a good presentation and then we came to the last slide. It was good, not great, and my question was, would it be sufficient to secure the PhD funding and further four years study she so desperately wanted. Her last slide was how she would benefit from being taken on by the university. 

Then a question for her. I asked whether she had heard of the phrase, ‘What’s in it for me’? As she hadn’t we went on to explore what exactly this meant and how she might apply it to her last slide. After some thought and a few more questions the light bulb moment. She suggested she needed to add to the last slide how the university would benefit from the additional research. Very true was my response and what else. The other PhD students who give up their free time to help her would benefit from using someone who already knew much about the topic and would be able to filter down further into more detail. And what else was my final question. In the long term the NHS would likely benefit from reduced costs as a result of this research.

So there we had it. Her suggestion was to split the last slide to say not only what she would get out of it but how others too would benefit. Not only that she headed it as ‘What’s in it for me?’ She rehearsed to ensure timing was fine and she could use her last slide. All was now ready for interview stage two – we had previously discussed questions she might expect, her answers and the detail she needed to go into - so it was over to her.

The great news is that a couple of days later I received a big thank you text saying she had been offered the position. In her feedback the interviewers were impressed that she had considered what others would get from offering her the position. The University for their funding investment and the PhD students who would give up their time to assist her. No other student had considered this angle.

Such a simple phrase and yet a great impact. I’m sure it could be applied to many other areas of our work and life. Oh yes I nearly forgot – what was in it for me? Well, apart from helping someone to do what they really wanted to do, I found out about PhD interviews and understood more about her ongoing research, although I still can’t say the technical term for it. So even the coach got something from this!

Remember it and use wisely.

July 13 2017Malc Lewis



Malc Lewis





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