By Shea Ki
What sets apart a good interview from a great one that gets remembered?
This goes for BOTH sides at the table (or on the computer screens as many are doing virtual interviews).
Too often, interviewees want to rush through responding and get the interview over with. And on the other side, the recruiter, hiring manager, or host of a show want to get to the bottom line as fast as possible.
What if both sides reframed the interview as an opportunity to share stories that matter and genuinely connect?
The power of storytelling is not a new discovery. Science has been sharing the evidence of how it boosts trust and connection for ages. Yet very few harness it's amazing benefits--especially in an interview.
Spoiler Alert: I don't think it serves others best to show you templates or examples of exactly what to say in an interview, especially with storytelling. You can google things like that and get an overwhelming amount of examples. Unfortunately, using the internet (versus your Inner-net) too much will result in sounding like someone other than the REAL, AMAZING YOU when it is your turn in the hot seat.
The Upgrade My Interview™ holistic method gets results because it helps you tune into and hear your own inner voice, rather than copying someone else you consider successful.
I understand the need though for tools on how to uncover your best stories that demonstrate your unique interests, skills and abilities. I also realize it will help to have parameters for determining if the stories you want to tell are interview worthy. The Upgrade My Interview™ tools in this blog post will assist you on both areas.
Take A Trip Down Career Memory Lane
Often, my clients find it helpful to have some prompts to help them find their storytelling treasures. I created this document as a journaling exercise to help ignite memories about your early interests, values you stand for, and what genuinely lights you up.
Yes, you need to reflect on any unexpected transitions and bumps in your career journey, but often we give TOO MUCH attention to those areas in our interview responses. This blocks us from not giving enough time to share more about our natural essence and professional wins.
Reflecting on moments that brought us joy in the past and sharing them, when they relate to the opportunity at hand, is the sweet spot where our warmth and competence will shine most.
You can click on the image of the document below to access the downloadable pdf version. It is best viewed on a desktop or tablet device where you can zoom in on areas you want to be bigger. Plus, by not printing it out you do a great thing for the environment by not using paper.
Is the story "interview worthy?"
As a hiring manager, I soon observed that storytelling was a powerful tool when used wisely. Sometimes candidates would stray too far into their past without connecting their story to anything relevant in what we were looking for or needing to solve. Others would start out strong with a great short story to the classic "tell me about yourself", but then things would fizzle out. It was as if they had practiced for common interview questions but didn't give much energy to reflecting on their overall message of what they wanted to convey.
There were not many who showed endurance and consistency with sharing concise, engaging stories. Of course we were hiring them to do a certain job, not be a storyteller. However, we couldn't help but give more attention to those who could clearly communicate about significant moments in their previous work experiences or who could showcase what they wanted to do in the future with great stories. They very often were moved to the next round.
You know you have an "interview worthy story" on your hands when it helps others better understand how your past, present, and future line up with their needs. Before you add a story to your interview inventory, run it through this checklist to make sure it meets most of the criteria.
One More Storytelling Ace Up Your Sleeve
Do you know an easy but underused way to boost your connection with those interviewing you? Ask them to share a story with you. Depending on what the interview is for, one or two of these questions could lead to one of the most meaningful moments in the interview:
"I'd love to hear the story of how you started in this company/opportunity."
"What is a recent experience that has happened that reminded of you why you choose to stay working here?"
"Is there a story you can share with me that demonstrates your company's culture or values?"
This ace up your sleeve works BEST when you can demonstrate you actively were listening to what they shared.
Be sure to weave in a nugget of what you learned or heard from their storytelling into one of your next interview answers. At the very least, thank them for sharing the story before closing out the interview.
Your turn: Let me know your feedback on the "Phases Of My Career Journey" journal exercise and the "Is It Interview Worthy" checklist in the comments section here or by email. What was useful? What else would help?
Your voice is important here and helps me create tools that will serve you best to upgrade your interview.
Most of all, believe in yourself.
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