Read Time: 3 minutes
- The key to landing your next better job is to master the art of interviewing.
- Storytelling is a power tool to help you accomplish that goal.
- Strategic Networking is important but it will only get you to the table. The interview is where you will close the deal or be eliminated.
One of the tough challenges for applicants in a job interview is to be memorable in a meaningful way.
Most people are only fair when it comes to the art of interviewing. The majority think they are good at it but based on my 25 years of experience in executive search I only wish it were so. Executives who are chosen for the job are usually the ones who stand out from the masses. They are memorable in a meaningful way — they use focused stories to illustrate their value, great, they deliver quantifiable answers and generate little or no noise.
The noise is everything a candidate says that a prospective employer is not interested in. Noisy interviews are common.
One of the most frequent complaints from executive recruiters is that applicants show up to an interview are poorly prepared. They haven’t done their homework on the employer or given thought or rehearsal time to how they will answer certain key questions. In most interviews, applicants tell, they do not sell.
One way to sell yourself in an interview is be a good storyteller. Storytelling is a powerful way to communicate, but in an interview being an effective storyteller requires careful research, extensive planning, and a great deal of practice.
The definition of a story in an interview setting is rather broad and generous. It may be a short “bridge line” from the question to the answer or just a quick quip, a well rehearsed aforementioned bridge line. More than likely, the stories will come when the interviewer asks a core question like, “Tell me about yourself,” or “Describe your leadership style” and “Describe your biggest failure (or mistakes) and what did you learn from the ordeal?” These core questions beg for a “story answer,” a response that will be insightful and memorable. But it must be focused. An example of a quick quip response to a question such as “What are your weaknesses?” could be “Maybe we better call my wife first,” as one CEO candidate said. The board members laughed. They bonded. Successful story.
Telling a story, or providing a story-based answer can be exceptionally effective if it is spot-on and to the point, but if the storyteller, the applicant, is not focused, if they are not prepared to deliver a well crafted, tight answer, all the employer is going to hear is noise.
Too much noise usually leads to elimination of the applicant from further consideration.
Unless you are an exceptionally talented extemporaneous speaker, embarking on this approach “on the fly” in an interview is a really bad idea. It will probably be memorable but certainly not meaningful.
Planning and practice are essential.
I am frequently asked by people who attend my interview course, “How can I differentiate myself from the 25 or 30 other well qualified candidates for the same job?” The answer is simple: understand your value and be able to communicate it effectively.
And be a credible storyteller.