Think about your last interview – how did it go? Did you manage to simply answer the questions asked or truly pull your interviewer in? The best interviewee knows how to not only deliver the information asked but also manage to build good rapport in the process – all while not getting too chatty. So how do you manage that balance? Give them a great story. Whether they ask you to tell a specific one or you find a way to work it in, a well-told story can help you have a great interview.
Don’t save the reveal.
Start your story with the main concept to indicate you understand the question being asked. In other words, tell the point of your story up front, then launch into the setup of how you got there. As an example, if they ask about a time when you had to deal with a difficult decision, start off by saying, “The time I had to disagree with my boss about a major project comes to mind,” rather than starting your story and giving no hint of where you’re going with it.
Set it up properly.
You also want to give proper context right away. Any good story sets up the atmosphere clearly – let them know whether your situation was positive or negative, who was involved, and what it meant for you professionally. These sorts of small but critical details give the story the proper punch it needs to make your point and keep it interesting. So, after you say your line from above, you may want to continue with, “We had been working on a project to bring in a major client for weeks and then…”
Bring yourself into the action.
As this is a story about you and your actions, once you’ve set up the problem, succinctly detail how you managed to help solve it or how you responded. Here you get to show your skills and qualifications – the main point of your story. Note that this is a great time to use “I” instead of “we”. Obviously point out what the team did but focus on yourself. So, then you might say, “I knew my boss had something in mind, but I’d done extra research that indicated a different strategy would work better,” etc.
End with closure.
Once you’ve set up the scenario, tell how your actions made the difference, whether good or bad. If you had a negative experience, add in the lessons you learned and how they’ve driven your actions (and how they’ll apply to the position you’re interviewing for!). Your story may end with, “I realized after the fact that I should have approached her earlier on in the decision-making process, but I also earned her respect by doing the research and standing my ground respectfully. It actually helped our professional relationship as a result.”
As you prepare for your next interview, have your stories ready to help yourself shine and connect with your interviewer. For more interview advice, work with the experts at PrideStaff.