Telling your story in an interview is a great way to control the interview in a way that highlights your strengths. Your resume has to tell enough of your story to get you called, but leave enough out that you can tell more stories in the interview. Every single question in the interview is an opportunity to expand a vision or add to a positive narrative. If you can tie the answers together with some type of theme or related events then the story feels more complete and they feel more like they know you well.
You are the hero in your story and this is your chance to show that hero’s actions and results from beginning to end. It’s an opportunity to downplay negatives and upgrade positives. People love, remember, and share great stories with others. Finally, stories sound better then random facts.
Telling your story also gives you a chance to anchor the conversation at the beginning. It allows you to shine a spotlight on what matters to you and where you excel, framing the conversation.
In interviews, all you're doing is talking about your successes and what you learned along the way. Even failures are successes as long as you learned something. There are several key aspects of story telling in an interview:
- Planning (aka: preparation) - Every story has a beginning, characters, and theme. You have to pick which work experiences that flows together to tell a memorable story.
- Confidence - Your speech and body language has to convey that you believe in the persona you are sharing.
- Passion - Everything you say and do have to scream, “I want this job and have overcome similar challenges before”.
- Reading the room - Every interview, from the interviewer to the company culture, is different.
- Communication - The interviewer has to be able to hear you, understand you, and enjoy the moment.
- Showcasing the Authentic you - The story you are telling needs to be unique to just you.
Tips to prepare for interviews:
- Make a habit of weekly mock interviews with a friend or mentor. Practice telling your story over and over until it feel natural.
- A cheat sheet of highlights and experiences you can quickly scan and then use. My personal tactic is to “rehearse” the hour before the interview.
If you have tips on crafting a story during the interview, please leave a comment.