Job Interview Storytelling: 6 Ways to Excel
You’ve worked hard to get a job interview with your target company—a chance to sell your strengths through storytelling to convince the employer that you’re the best candidate.
To make the most of that hour, use these 6 tips to frame and deliver relevant, impactful stories that keep your interviewer interested and motivated to make you their top choice.
Choose Your Best, Most Relevant Stories
First, dissect the job description to pinpoint key skills and attributes and create success stories that are most relevant to the job. For each story, ask yourself, “Does this pertain to this job?” If the answer is no, then save it for another time.
Frame your Anecdotes Using SOAR
Once you’ve decided on your stories, structure them by using SOAR.
Start by outlining the Situation (or challenge). Then, get the interviewer on the edge of their seat by talking about the Opportunity (or risks or stakes) –what the company stood to gain or lose. Then describe the Action you took. Finally, wrap up with the Result or benefit to the company.
Use facts and figures to enliven your story—similar to the way you’d quantify your achievements in a resume. For example:
Situation: “We were losing business to a competitor because they had a larger sales force in the same region.”
Opportunity/Risk: “We didn’t have budget to expand our sales team. If we continued to lose business, we’d have to shut down our Northwest regional office.”
Action: “To make up for 1:1 meetings with decision makers, I created popular quarterly events and a well-received webinar series to reach hundreds of prospects at once.”
Result: “We recovered market share and increased revenue by $5M within six months.”
PRACTICE. Out loud. A Few Times Over.
Sit in front of a mirror or better yet, mock interview with a coach or friend and have yourself recorded to review later. Get comfortable telling your stories so you can tell them naturally, but not to a point of memorizing so it seems too artificial or formal.
Keep Your Stories Short and Sweet
Aim to share your anecdotes in two minutes or less. Time yourself—you’d be surprised at how quickly two minutes pass!
Brevity is key for these reasons: First, no one wants to listen to a long story and second, the hiring manager needs to get through their questions and agenda. Give just enough detail but be specific. If they want more detail, they’ll ask. Or if you feel you’ve been too brief, just say, “Would you like me to expand on any points?”
Stick to the Question!
It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and you may have a lot to share, but be careful not to go off on tangents. Remember this is all about THEM—proving to the employer that you can solve their problem or fulfill their needs. Focus on the original question and give a robust, employer-focused answer.
Put Energy and Passion Into Your Story
One common mistake job seekers make is being overly serious or playing it too cool in the interview, not projecting energy or enthusiasm when talking about their accomplishments. If you’re not excited about your achievements, how can you expect the employer to be excited? Show energy! This will be infectious with your interviewer, making it easy for them to envision you as an engaged, positive employee.
By choosing stories most relevant to the job, practicing, staying brief and on topic, and showing your enthusiasm for your achievements, you’ll be better positioned for success and job offers.
(For more details on building your SOAR stories, get your Storytelling Cheat Sheet.)
I’m Dalena Bradley, job interview coach and career marketer dedicated to helping you communicate your value, stand out from the competition, and win the job! Contact me to discuss how we can collaborate.