Answer interview questions with powerful stories

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Answering interview questions is tough. The interview questions vary, the same question is asked by different people, and you have to wonder what people will remember from your interview when it comes down to making decisions about whom to hire.

That critical point — the hiring decision — is where the stories you tell will make a difference.

Remember when

When people get together after not seeing each other for a long time, at some point the conversation inevitably turns to “remember when we …” And out comes the stories of shared victories, defeats, good times and bad.

Or, upon hearing about the death of a friend or loved one, there is the grief. But then, there are the stories of this person’s life that showed how this person helped others or helped us be better people.

People are social creatures and one of the best ways of relating to each other is through the stories we tell.

People remember stories

Because people remember stories, it is important that your interviews contain stories that demonstrate how you achieved results in your positions. You need to tell stories that show how you worked with difficult customers and carried the day to the satisfaction of both your company and your customer. You need to tell stories about how your accomplishments impacted the business in a positive way.

Hiring managers will have a checklist of stuff about you — your job skills, your accomplishments, and how they think you will fit into the team.

But they are just checkmarks and, like the multiple-choice test with a score, are just some number on a piece of paper. We don’t hire numbers on a piece of paper. We hire people.

When you can tell concise, relevant, and engaging stories about how you operate at work, hirning managers will look at the checkmarks and remember the stories. It’s the Cubicle Warrior difference.

What stories would you tell your hiring manager in an interview?

  • […] of his work through these stories because they allow for a little dramatic license — and people remember stories, not dry theory. This story teaches us the need to do Systems Thinking in our work to solve […]

  • You’re so right, Scot, having a few “career success stories” in your back pocket for interviews can have significant impact and make a powerful impression.

    One exercise to develop these stories is the Challenge — Actions — Results approach:

    1. Describe what challenge you and/or the company was facing, and how high the stakes were.

    2. Explain what you did to tackle and resolve the problem, giving the interviewer an understanding of how you make things happen, and how you can do the same for their company.

    3. Then tie it all up with the quantified WOW! results or benefits to the company.

    I suggest practicing these stories several times to pare them down to a brief encapsulation.

    Wonderful post!


    • @ Meg — yes, you must practice. Most people don’t. Then they don’t get the job.

      Thanks for a good method to build the stories!

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