04 Mar Storytelling in Job Interviews
The art of storytelling allows one to make your listener part of the message you are sending. A compelling story can involve the listener emotionally and make a true connection. Storytelling in a job interview will take you away from the numbers and data and present you in a more compelling light to the hiring team.
There is a simple framework for telling a good story in a job interview.
Start with a summary
There is no need for suspense in a job interview. You should lead with a brief summary before telling your story. This summary would be something like this;
“There was a time when we failed our safety audit and had to make policy changes in order to pass the follow up.”
It can be a story of a failure or a win, depending on the question that was asked. After your summary, you will tell the story again from the beginning using the below skeleton.
Flow from beginning to end
Every great story has a flow. The scene is set, the problem or villain appears, the hero takes action, and the day is saved. Your interview story can have a similar flow using a storytelling skeleton like the one below;
- We were aiming to __
- But then __
- So then I ___
- Which lead to __
- (What we learned was ____) dependant on the story
Following this framework will allow you to maintain your story structure and flow by filling in the blanks. It can look something like this;
“We were aiming to pass our second OHS Audit in order to maintain our ISO accreditation. On the week of the audit one of our forklift truck drivers accidentally knocked a fire extinguisher off the wall and did not report it. This was discovered in the audit process.
I conducted a training session on reporting of incidents and streamlined the process of reporting minor incidents.
This lead to an increase in incident reports which allowed us to further improve our safety systems. We passed our follow up audit with flying colours.
I learned to hold regular discussions with those who have their hands on the job. They can sometimes provide an insight I would not otherwise see from my position”
Try not to waffle on or give too much detail. Keep it to the point and concise. Determining which details to include or exclude will depend on the story. An interview for a technical position will require different information than a leadership position.
Watch en example here,
Close and keep quiet
Once you have finished your story stop talking. Allow the interviewer time to process and ask follow up questions if needed.
Remember body language and tone of voice
Your non-verbal communication must also be considered. The easiest way to keep these under control is to tell the truth, and believe in yourself. If you are lying or not confident, your body language and tone will give it away.
Practice telling these stories to yourself or a friend. Think of the problems you have solved, or the targets you have met (or not met). The better you know your own working history, the better you can pitch yourself to your potential employer.