We’ve all been there, you’ve submitted your resume and now you’re in the interview. You have all your questions and answers ready and you know you’ll ace the interview and get your dream job.

Then that one question comes and maybe it’s nerves but you can’t answer. You know you have an answer but you just can’t remember it right now. You’ll remember it just as you walk out of the interview, but by then it will be too late.

This is why it’s a good idea to keep a running list of accomplishments or a ‘win list’ and even a list of negative events.

What’s a win list? I was chatting with an acquaintance about job-hunting strategies when she mentioned a former co-worker who kept a win list or in his case, a win binder.

She explained that every time their boss gave her co-worker a special project, or if he got a complimentary email, he added them to his binder. That way, when it was time for his performance review, weekly one-on-ones or if he was applying for a promotion, he could pull out his binder and have all his wins at his fingertips instead of trying to remember them under pressure.

What Goes in the Win List?

  • Special assignments or projects given to you by your boss
  • Any projects that have a quantifiable measurement like sales targets or increased page views
  • Emails from satisfied coworkers or clients
  • Any actions taken that have benefitted your department or company such as saving money or reducing costs
  • Any actions that have increased your department or company’s reputation

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Just keep track of your accomplishments and pull them out when needed. But what about the not-so-great events? As Ruth Jackson, a management consultant pointed out, interviewers never just ask about the good times, they like to know about the bad times. She suggested creating what she called a “whine list” where you keep track of the not-so-great events and how you handled them. This way, when the interviewer says, “Tell me about a time you had to deal with a customer service issue,” you can refer to your whine list for an event and the steps you took to resolve the issue.

What Goes in the Whine List (and how you resolved them)

  • Any professional conflicts
  • Unforeseen work challenges
  • Customer service / client issues
  • Unforeseen setbacks that you were instrumental in solving

Being prepared to speak eloquently about the success and challenges of your career can be a powerful way to communicate your value in salary negotiations and job interviews. Compiling your lists as they happen can help you be prepared for when the time comes.