Interview Tip: Don’t just Give Answers, Tell a Story

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Most people spend time browsing the internet and preparing answers for possible questions that would most likely come up during their job interview. It’s quite effective and can get you mentally prepared. But most of the time, we fail to see that interviewers are not looking for answers that are already on our resume. Take note that successful interviews aren’t cross examination or question and answer portion on a TV show, but a conversation. It’s like selling yourself to your crush on your first date, you get your date more interested on you by telling interesting and funny stories about yourself and you build a conversation from there. Same with an interview, it would be more successful If you sprinkle in some interesting information about yourself in the shape of stories.


Why tell stories

Stories work really well in any interview as they are memorable (even in sales meetings). We forget just plain old facts and we mix them up with other data (that’s why most people take down notes), but we tend to remember stories and who told them. The human brain is wired to remember stories, not only the words but the visuals that went through the listeners head as well.
Think about it, you’ve been told stories your whole life in one form or another. Fairy tales turned into movies by Disney or how your parents got an allowance of 1 peso a day back when they were little kids – there is a story there that you still remember. A lot of successful marketers and influencers make very clever use of stories to sell products and services, so should you. By using stories, you can appeal to the human mind and create a strong connection with the listener (In this case the interviewer). You can demonstrate your communication skills and be remembered.


How to tell your stories

Be professional, after all this is a job interview were talking about. Like every good story, it needs to have a clear beginning, middle and an end, the punch line will be the result. Think of an anecdote, by definition, an anecdote is a short and amusing or interesting story about a real incident or person. Aim to deliver the story within 60 seconds, too long and you might bore the interviewer. No need to include exact details, if your story is interesting, you can be sure the interviewer will ask you more details about it and that’s your change to elaborate on the result.

The interviewer will want to hear about your out-of-the-box thinking and way of doing things, how you are imaginative and clever methods reached your goal. Remember that the interviewer is a seasoned professional, they have heard a few stories in their countless interview sessions so make your story count. To make it memorable and special, make sure it’s your original story.

Remember that a successful applicant is also a good listener. Listen carefully to the interviewer’s questions and try not to miss a word of it. This way, you understand exactly what they are asking and you know which story would apply. The kiss of death to your interview would be when you go all out with your creative success stories when all they asked was if you wanted coffee. An interview is pretty much like a sales pitch, you are selling yourself and focusing on the employer and their needs as opposed to your ego.

Always remember that in every story, you should include what actions you took, skills you used and results you achieved. Make sure these elements are clear so the interviewer can take make little notes of how special you are.


Here are examples of stories you can work on which are tailored to some interview questions:

1. Story about you
Usually answers the ‘Tell me something about yourself’ question. No need to tell them your name, it’s already on your Resume. Remember not to make it too long, everybody tends to love talking about themselves. You can tell them where you’re from, what university or school you went to and your most recent job position. Include where your heading with your career and most important, what value you can add their company.

2. How hard working you are
Every employer want’s a hard-working player on their team. You can tell a story about how you went an extra mile for the company or a client, so you worked overtime and sacrificed your time for a common goal.

3. How you can or save money
You will be hired by your ability to make or save money for the employer. You can demonstrate this with an anecdote of how you became a top sales associate or how you found an ingenious way to minimize cost of operations by a third.

4. The great challenge
The time you faced an enormous challenge like hitting an impossible goal. Even though it took you some time to get through the trials and tribulations, in the end, you overcome it all with ingenuity. How mastered new skills which would apparently fit well with the new job your interviewing for.

5. How you deal with conflicts, stress and setbacks
One way or another, you will be asked how you resolve conflict, how you deal with failure or how you cope under pressure. Try to remember stories around these topics and tell the in a short story in which it would demonstrate how you can dealt with negative and turned it into something positive.

6. You are a Team Player
Nowadays, being able to work in a team is essential in any company. Tell the story of how you helped your team or another team within the same company achieve a goal, or how you uplifted the team spirit when everything else was going south for everyone and no one resigned from their work.

7. Not a job-hopper and you in it for the long run
In today’s fast paced environment, it’s not only generation Y changes jobs like going through tv channels, even 90’s kids are joining the craze. Every employer will want to see that you would stay with the company for the foreseeable future. You can tell a story how your previous co-workers left your team but you made a decision to stay with your supervisor and see the project through, then ending the story with why now is the best time for you to move on.


Try to practice this new skill at any given opportunity. We’re pretty sure telling a good story to answer a question will come in handy on your next job interview.


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