Just like old photos connect us to the past, stories have the power to connect us to our audience. If you are a job candidate, the right stories can communicate your expertise, experience and values in a sort of shorthand. Stories help the interviewer “get” you quickly.
Like a movie preview, stories enable us to create a picture of what working with us would be like. They offer insight into who we are, our priorities and our hopes and dreams.
Discovering the power of storytelling is invariably an ah-ha moment for most of my clients. One 20-something who came for an interview preparation session when he was home during the holidays followed up with me a couple of weeks ago. He shared his surprise about just how effective telling the right stories could be.
He discovered that matching his stories to job requirements made it so much easier for him to remember the important points he needed to convey. He felt like he had uncovered a magic potion that made him a hundred times more effective. And, he surprised himself by remembering additional stories highlighting his experience that he had previously discounted or long since forgotten.
So how do you choose the right stories? You begin by evaluating which skills are most highly prized by the hiring manager. Job descriptions usually highlight the most important requirements first. Choose three absolutely essential requirements. Mentally sort through your background for stories that communicate your experience in these critical areas. You will want to identify two stories for each key requirement. This means that you walk into the interview with at least six well-thought-out stories demonstrating your fit for the position.
Practice sharing your stories in a conversational style. Speaking them into your phone or tablet and listening to them in the car or while you do chores will help you evaluate their effectiveness. As you tell the story include the problem or challenge you faced, how you handled the situation and the results you achieved. Add enough detail to make it come alive but not so much that your listeners get lost in the weeds. Don’t bury the lead; flip the story on its end and share the positive outcome first, then explain how you achieved it. During the interview listen for opportunities to share your stories as an antidote to the hiring manager’s pain points.
The time to collect our stories is now; before we need them. Every day, every week contains a multitude of stories. While not all are memorable if you train yourself to look for and jot down a few notes about the standout ones you will never lack for interview stories.
What is even better than capturing stories to tell during interviews? Collecting them first on your resumé. Creating a story-based resumé serves the dual purpose of significantly increasing your chances of being called for an interview while surreptitiously preparing you in advance for conversations with hiring managers. What could be better?
Mary Jeanne Vincent, career expert and strategist, has a private coaching practice and guides clients nationally. She may be reached at 831-657-9151, firstname.lastname@example.org, or www.careercoachmonterey.com
© 2019 Mary Jeanne Vincent. All rights reserved.