How Strong Storytelling Can Help You Ace Your Job Interview

Want to really impress the employer at your next interview? Learn how to use the power of storytelling to make a compelling candidate!

Job interviews often frustrate and scare job seekers to death. The very situation of competing with countless other candidates is uncomfortable and challenging. The only possible way to ace a job interview is to stand out of the crowd, thus creating a memorable impression. 

It might seem strange but telling a story during a job interview rather than providing short answers to standard interview questions is more beneficial. Just give it a thought. Stories can make a difference at the job interview. A job interview is a perfect setting for a consistent story about your previous experience, background, and competencies. A combination of a well-thought tale, a few witty remarks, and showcasing of your expertise makes a powerful combo to attract and retain the interviewer’s attention once and for all.

Here are the fundamentals of good storytelling you should master before your following job interview. Besides, let’s clarify the key benefits of storytelling you can take advantage of.


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Storytelling Demonstrates Your Strengths

First of all, storytelling is excellent for answering behavioral interview questions. When asked to talk about themselves, most job seekers get confused and tend to repeat everything mentioned on their resumes. However, the interviewer is not interested in these facts, as they are on your resume. Thus the question ‘Tell me about yourself’ has a broad meaning, encouraging you to speak up about your strong sides.

This is the point when storytelling comes to the rescue. By asking behavioral questions, the employer wants to go further than education or experience. Such questions are to disclose your past behavior with projection to future actions. Therefore, a consistent real-life story that describes you as a decisive leader or a reliable teammate would be an excellent shot.

Related Read: 25 Best Interview Tips: Expert Advice for Acing Interviews & Landing Jobs

Stories Reveal Your Values

At the interview, the employer aims at disclosing whether your values align with the company values. An impressive set of skills and competencies relevant for the position is good, but values and personality traits are even more critical.

Naturally, if you are interviewing for a sales position, the employer is much more interested in your attitude to clients and your principals than degrees and marks. In business, core values reflect long-term perspectives and objectives. Thus they are closely related to the type of people the company wants to hire and retain and the collaboration model between the employees.

What other answer rather than an excellent story can help reveal your accountability, integrity, social orientation, innovation, and collaboration? It might take some time to develop a real story, but it is worth the effort.

Storytelling Helps to Keep Calm

We are well familiar with the feelings of worry or frustration often experienced during the job interview. Furthermore, according to the recent survey from JDP, most job candidates (93%) have experienced anxiety related to their interviews.

To stay relaxed and focused during the interview, candidates employ various techniques. Thus, 64% of the candidates, according to the survey, listen to music to relax. And 29% of candidates use positive self-talk to prepare for interviews.

Storytelling belongs to those, who proved to be relatively efficient to overcome stress and tension. Following a well-prepared scenario that best showcases your personality helps you not to get confused or stressed out. Furthermore, telling your story at the right time can reduce tension and lighten up an awkward pose.

Related Read: What to Bring to an Interview? 10+ Things to Take for Your Big Meeting

Good Story Makes You Outstanding

Just imagine a typical day of the employer or a hiring manager in the course of a hiring campaign. It looks more like a boring routine spent asking the same questions and listening to more or less the same answers. More likely, your fellow candidates will have similar skills and competencies as you do. The only thing that makes a difference and plays a decisive role is a creative approach.

Put the accent on how you showcase your advantages, not the exact words. A good story distinguishes you from the crowd. Storytelling lets you demonstrate your confidence, self-awareness, and communication skills in practice.

A tired and bored interviewer is more likely to memorize your witty remark, curious story, and real-life examples rather than a mere enumeration of your strengths, which is quite often perceived as boasting.

Types of Stories

Getting the benefit of storytelling during a job interview requires effort. Each of your stories should sound like a solid and reliable answer to the interview question. Thus, your best bet is to have some ready-made stories that demonstrate your best self in advance.

Here five basic types of stories you`d better have on your fingertips:

Solving a Problem

You will likely face an interviewer looking for a problem solver as a potential hire. Slapping general phrases with no actual proof is something any candidate can make. But a perfect candidate can convince most naturally by applying storytelling. Therefore, you`d better come up with such a story for your arsenal.

Undoubtedly, there are numerous instances of you witnessing a conflict between team members or challenging tasks. Thus, you already have some raw material to work with.

Related Read: 10+ Job Search Tips & Tricks to Up Your Chances of Landing an Interview

Overcoming a Challenge

Overcoming challenges is something we do almost every day at work. Work-life is full of obstacles. Here come tough decisions, acquiring new skills and competencies, performing tasks beyond your responsibility, and many others. All these situations seem minor and unmeaningful, but they tailor us as employees.

Therefore, crafting an inspiring story about your struggles and accomplishments is of utmost importance for a good interview storyteller.

Making a Mistake

Nobody is perfect. Pretending you are the one who has never made a mistake is a total disaster. Much better is to tell frankly about your slip-up and show your attitude to such situations.

Mistakes are common in all spheres, so you will face no difficulty picking one worth the story. Briefly explain the situation, add some analysis and conclusion and a perfect story is ready.

Being a Leader

Leadership skills are among the top priorities for employers, especially when it comes to managerial positions. The best way to convince the interview you have the required skills is to provide a story of you being a leader.

Think of the instances when you were in charge and achieved success. No worries for those with little or no experience. Even stories that go back to university and high school responsibilities may be nicely told.

Working in a Team

When employers are not looking for a new team leader, they are most definitely looking for reliable team players. Make sure you have a story about dream teamwork.

Every time you effectively communicated and cooperated with your colleagues is potentially a good story. As long as this story shows that you value collaboration and practically know how it works, it will work great at the interview.

Related Read: Career Path: Definition, Examples & How to Plan a Successful One Out

Storytelling Tips

Here are some golden rules of a successful storytelling implementation for a smooth job interview process.

1. Prepare Your Story

More likely, there will be no time for you to make up a story right after the question. Furthermore, a raw and inconsistent story can make it even worse.

Thus, spend some time preparing and rehearsing your stories before the actual interview. Polish the structure and work on details to make it sound even more convincing and realistic.

2. Use the STAR Method

Applying the STAR method to the plot of your stories helps to construct a well-organized, thoughtful and conscious answer. This tactic is straightforward and straightforward in its application, as it guides you through the plot : 

  • Situation
  • Task
  • Action
  • Result

Thus, you will not miss a thing and make sure your story is informative enough to believe it.

Related Read: 15 Video Interview Tips: Top Tips to Mind for Remote Job Interviews

3. Personal but not private

Remember, your story should be from the realm of personal, not private ones. Revealing some personal details helps to reduce tension and set a positive and trustful tone for the conversation. But do not overshare. Try to find your propper level of vulnerability, feel it and choose stories wisely.  

4. Observe and adapt

The most compelling stories are those specifically tailored for your audience. However, it is pretty challenging to consider all variables in advance. Therefore, leave some space for personalization in crafting a story plot.

Be attentive and observe the reactions of your interviewers. The more you know about your audience, the more equipped and well prepared you are. 

5. Don’t forget the takeaway

Every tale is precious due to its moral. Frame your story so that it has a clear takeaway eventually. To make sure your tale has the desired effect there should be relevant conclusions.

Dwell on how this or that experience changed your professional life, attitude, or principles and inspired further efforts.

Conclusion

Interviewers are humans too. Thus, they like listening to stories like everybody else. However, there is a vast difference between a simple story and the one tailored specifically for an interview.

Some candidates have the natural talent for telling stories. Therefore, they can make the story flow right on the spot. However, practice and following the essential storytelling principles can make it work as successfully for any candidate. Now that you have a good sense of structure and some basic ideas for your stories, try to play the words in your head. Repeat and polish the details until you believe them. The more stories you craft, the more prepared and all-armed you are for your following job interview.

Related Read: How to Get a Job With No Experience (Whether In the Industry or at All)

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Goodwall Contributor
Written By Goodwall Contributor
This article was written by a contributor for publication on Goodwall. Goodwall is dedicated to helping students, entrepreneurs, and young professionals reach their full potential. We'll share thought-provoking and supportive articles on career advice, self-improvement, navigating the college landscape, climate action, social impact, and more. On the business side, we'll talk about SMB subjects related to community, diversity, talent acquisition, case studies, and enterprise.

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