Monday, October 17, 2011

Using Stories in the Interview Process …

There are a number of standard questions you can expect in your job interview. So, it makes sense to prepare yourself with likely answers.

But in doing that you need to know the interviewer isn’t looking for facts that are already in your resume. Instead, the questioner is looking for additional information that will add to their perception of you.

They typically like brief and memorable answers that showcase your personality and provide information about who you really are.

One of the best ways to do that is to tell them a story.


Well, facts are easily forgotten -- but people tend to remember stories and who told them. You see, for some reason the human brain is hard-wired to remember stories. We think in pictures -- so as we hear words, our minds create a little movie clip that is easy for us to remember.  

By telling stories you will appeal to the human mind and you will create a strong connection with the listener.

And that is definitely what you want when you are in for an interview.

So, how do you successfully tell stories? 

I often think it is like the story of the Three Bears. There is a clear beginning, middle, and end. And when telling the story, you don’t ever forget when the porridge is too hot – or when it is too cold – or when it is just right. You tell your story with some passion and drama. You have it well practiced for delivery.

In a job interview -- you’ve got to deliver it all in just 60-seconds.

Now, for your stories to be memorable – they have to be original. Your interviewer will want to hear about your unique way of doing things and how you used your imaginative and clever ways to accomplish your goals.  

Also, be sure and listen to the interviewer’s questions – and answer appropriately. Match the stories to the questions being asked. This means you need to be listening. After all, an interview isn’t like the Inquisition. It is a good conversation where there is some friendly give and take.


Here are 7 stories you must have ready for your interview session. Master these and you will be ready:

1. The story about yourself

This story is the answer you give when someone says: “Tell me a little about yourself.”

We often refer to it as “The One Minute Commercial” or “The Elevator Speech”. It is NOT your entire life’s history. It is NOT a 20-minute dissertation on everything you’ve ever done. It is NOT the place where you respond with: “Doh, what would you like to know?”

Instead, it is a very concise and targeted answer – smoothly delivered in 60-seconds or less.

(Tomorrow, I will provide you with an easy-to-use form that will help you prepare your “One Minute Commercial” … so, stay tuned for that.)

2. How you can make money or save money

Of most interest to any employer is your ability to either:  1) make them money or 2) save them money. It’s as simple as that. So, with this story you’ll need to demonstrate how you did that in the past with a brief story of how you made your employer better off financially.

3. Team Player

Teamwork in the workplace is essential in today’s job environment. Being a good team player says a lot about how you will fit in with the company’s environment.

So, be sure and prepare a story that shows how you participated with a workplace team to help the company improve or be successful.

4. Hard Worker

Every boss wants a hard worker on their team. So, be sure and say something about how you are a very hardworking team player.

Prepare a story of how you went the extra mile for your company in the past.  You must demonstrate that you were at work to give it your best every day.

5. In it for the long run

Your potential boss wants to know that you are in it for the long run. They don’t want to know that you may leave in 6 months to join your garage band on tour. They don’t want you to be flaky. They don’t want to see on your Facebook page that you would rather be someone – anywhere – else.

So, you must create a story about how you stuck it out while others quit.

6. Your great challenge

Ahh – a heroic story here. You faced an enormous challenge and while it took some time to get through the trials and tribulations -- in the end, your ingenuity helped you succeed. Now, you are stronger than ever.

7. Dealing with conflict/setback/stress

You will be asked about how you have resolved a conflict or how you coped under pressure.

Be prepare with short stories to demonstrate how you can deal with the negatives and turn them to something positive.

Final note

When preparing your stories, be sure to sue the S.O.A.R. technique.

S = Situation
Tell them about the situation you face …

O = Obstacles
Tell them about the obstacles you faced …

A = Actions
Tell them about the actions you took …

R = Results
Conclude by telling them of the results you achieved.

Good Hunting!

J  Dana

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