One of the biggest mistakes hopeful candidates make during the job interview process is failing to connect and engage with the interviewer. Usually they simply regurgitate their resume when they need to reinvigorate it to stand out from the other candidates. Sharing a variety of work-related and relevant personal stories is a most effective way to combat this.
When sharing stories in interviews there are a few things you need to consider.
Be purposeful: Know the point of your story. This is not about sharing random stories that leave your interviewer thinking, ‘What has this got to do with anything we’re talking about?’
Be authentic: Never, ever make up stories — no matter how tempting it might be to land your dream job. Lying is not worth the damage it can cause to your credibility and you never know when it might come back and haunt you.
Be yourself: During an interview try to be yourself and make sure your stories reflect that. Don’t say you live and breathe teamwork when you actually prefer to work in complete isolation.
Be brief: Try to keep your stories no longer than a couple of minutes. This will allow the interviewer to ask follow-up questions that create a more conversational feel and help you build connection.
The key to success with using stories in job interviews is to be prepared. It is best to be equipped with more stories than you will need to help you answer unexpected questions. In addition, your stories should not only demonstrate your capabilities but also your values. A good combination of work-related stories and appropriate personal stories help you achieve this.
The 5-step process to preparing a range of stories:
Step 1: Define
This is where you identify the capabilities and values required for the job. Look at the job description and identify what the employer is looking for. What qualities do they seek in their ideal candidate? Who would be the right ‘fit’ for their organisation?
Step 2: Find
Once you have defined the capabilities and values that a potential employer is looking for, then it’s time to find stories that demonstrate these capabilities and values. Look through your career history and personal life to help you identify relevant stories to share. Writing down a list of significant milestones, experiences or setbacks in both your professional and personal life will help you to generate a list of potential stories you could use.
Step 3: Match
After you have identified a lot of different stories that you can use in step 2, you then need to match these stories to the capabilities and values that you identified in Step 1. This will help you align stories from your past with the particular capabilities and values that your interviewer is looking for.
Step 4: Construct
You should get into the habit of writing your stories out. This will help you to ensure that they have the right amount of emotion to create a connection. Your stories should not just be a logical flow of events but include lessons learned, what you care about, your vulnerabilities and your passions.
Step 5: Practice
There is no better preparation than practising your stories out loud. If you want to take it to the next level, record yourself and play it back to see what you sound like. Better yet, practise with someone you trust who will give you constructive feedback and support.
Walking into a job interview with the necessary skills, experience and qualifications is a good start. However, avoid regurgitating your resume and use a variety of personal and work-related stories to make a positive impression and help you nail that next job interview.