The 6 Interview Stories You Should Be Telling to Make a Lasting Impression and Get the Job
We all love a good story! If you think about it, you’ve been told stories for your whole life in one form or another. Whether it was bedtime stories or fairy tales adapted by Disney, whether it’s a French art-house film or a detective novel – there is a story there that is etched in your memory forever. So, how is storytelling relevant in the context of job searching? Super relevant! Being able to tell interview stories is a little trick that savvy candidates are employing to up their job search game.
Before a big interview, most people will spend the time to prepare answers for likely interview questions. This is useful and can get you prepared for the basics. The trouble is that the interviewer is not looking for answers that are already on your resume, they want to hear something that adds to it. A successful interview isn’t a cross-examination, it’s a conversation. If you want to break out of the question/answer ping-pong match, you should aim to sprinkle in some interesting information about yourself in the shape of stories.
Storytelling is perhaps the best way to present information so it’s memorable and relatable, and it can make you stand out especially in job interviews.
Facts can easily be forgotten but people tend to remember stories and who told them. The human brain is hard-wired to remember stories, not just the words but the visuals that went through the listener’s head as well. Marketers make very clever use of stories to sell products and services – and so should you.
By using stories you will appeal to the human mind. You will create a strong connection with the listener, demonstrate your communication skills and finally, you will be remembered.
Here are the six big interview stories that will make an impression on any employer, so make sure to practice them so they become a natural part of your interview arsenal.
1. Your story
“Tell me about yourself” is an interview classic, and you can pretty much rely on it being the interview starter. And for that reason, you should treat it as the awesome opener as it has the potential to be by developing a storified answer.
Answer this question truthfully, showing who you are as a person, what excites you, your values and strengths and how you’ve operated in previous positions.
The interviewer isn’t asking for a synopsis of your resume. The best bet here is a minute-long elevator pitch (your story) that frames how your experiences make you the right candidate for the job.
2. How you solved a problem or overcame a challenge in the workplace
This question might seem intimidating, but if you prepare for it—and you should—you’ll be able to show the hiring manager your ability to learn and adapt to a difficult situation.
Being a “problem solver” is a highly-rated soft skill that’s a prerequisite for most jobs so you need to be prepared to explain a time when you actually exercised this skill, because just adding it to your resume simply won’t cut it. Remember, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
Dig back through your history and develop a quick story about a time you faced a challenge at work, that shows you’re a creative, resourceful, and self-motivated problem solver who can think on his/her feet. Importantly, be able to describe what you learned from the experience such as some new skills that nicely transfer to the job you happen to be interviewing for.
3. When you worked with a team
Teamwork makes the dream work. Collaborating with others in the workplace is pretty much inevitable. Employers want to know that you will be a good fit and add value to the culture of your workplace. So, you need to demonstrate that you are not a ‘Debbie Downer’ and that you know how to “play nice” in the sandpit.
For this reason, it’s important you develop a story that explains a time you worked extra hard to support your team. Think of a time where maybe you stayed late, took on extra work or did something to up the morale of the people you work with.
4. When you took on a leadership role
Leadership is another popular interview buzzword. Of course, you need to have some solid examples of your leadership skills if you are applying for a management position, or if you aspire to one eventually.
You can demonstrate that you are seasoned leader by talking about how you led a successful project or led your team to achieve the highest sales for the quarter.
Even if you’re at the early stages of your career, you can develop a story where you’ve shown some form of leadership, whether it was in an internship or even on a project in school, college or on a sports team.
What the interviewer is looking for here is your ability to take initiative, motivate others positively to increase productivity and get the job done.
5. About a time when you made a mistake
Nobody’s perfect! We all make mistakes but what Hiring Managers want to know is what you do with the slip-ups. Do you ignore them and pretend that they never happened? Or, do you address them head on and turn the experience into a learning opportunity?
Nearly all work-related mistakes can work in your favour, as long as you were able to move beyond it in a positive direction. So, think of a more minor mistake that you made in the workplace. Briefly explain the situation, and then talk about everything you did to remedy the issue. Remember that the emphasis of this story shouldn’t be on the actual mistake you made—it should be on the steps you immediately took to fix it, and then what you learned from it.
6. Who are you outside of work?
Yes, interviews typically focus on work-related skills but if during the course of the interview, the Hiring Manager thinks that you might be a good fit for the role, they might want to get to know you better personally by asking about what makes you ‘you’.
As an interviewee, this is a great opportunity for you to talk about personal pursuits that you are passionate about. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to weave in how your outside passions make you a great candidate for the position. Rather, answer honestly, sharing a story about what you love to do.
Whether you’re currently training for your first marathon or you teach yoga at your community centre, you should be armed and ready with a few noteworthy tidbits. Not only will you answer the interviewer’s question, but you’ll also leave the Hiring Manager with something memorable to associate with your name! You might even find you have shared interests – and that’s always a good thing!
Now that you know how a little beginning, middle and end can help you land your next gig here’s six characteristics that your story-based response to the above interview questions should have:
- meaning — what’s the purpose of telling this story?
- a structure — beginning, middle and end.
- makes the listener want more
- delivers more than what was asked for
- shows enthusiasm
- practised so you tell it naturally, not like you’re reading from a script.
Behavioural interview questions make all of our palms go sweaty, but instead of fearing them make them your strength and use them through storytelling to demonstrate that you are the right candidate for the job.
Which of these stories will you be adding to your interview arsenal? Or, if you have a story about telling a story in an interview, your fellow job seekers and I would love to hear it so please share!
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