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Narrating Your Critical Path

When Andrea Lustig ’86, the president of the Stralem Equity Fund and director of private client asset management at Stralem & Company, spoke at Yale SOM on April 8, she gave students advice on a critical part of the job search: the interview.

Lustig laid out what she called the "critical path method," a strategy she’s created that asks job hunters to reflect on their experiences and choices in an analytical manner that will help them summarize their qualifications, as well as their interest in and fit for a particular job.

The method is called "critical path" because it takes a holistic view of all the educational and career decisions job seekers have made, and zeroes in on the critical, milestone steps that have shaped their trajectories. Lustig said she learned the "critical path" concept as an SOM student taking an operations research course taught by Professor Arthur Swersey. "Up to now, you may not have thought about yourself and what you’ve done and made it understandable to others," she said.

She encouraged students to weave their critical path insights into a three-to-four-minute life story and memorize it, so that they can reference it to answer interview questions. In every interview, she said, the interviewer is assessing three things: why the candidate is pursing the position; what in the candidate’s background demonstrates success; and why this candidate is the best fit for the job. The interviewee should be thinking about how to answer questions in such a way as to help the interviewer become an advocate.

A few additional interviewing tips that Lustig shared:

  • Answer questions directly and try to link your answers to your critical path storyline.
  • If you’re stuck with a weak or unprepared interviewer, use your critical path story to subtly direct the process. “Give them the material they need, no matter what, to be your advocate.”
  • Be personable, match your level of formality to the interviewer’s, and follow his or her lead.

As for the ubiquitous "Tell me about yourself" question, Lustig said to embrace the opportunity: "Tell your story."