“When I was hiking in the Appalachian mountains, I came across a wild bear. I wrestled him to the ground and saved my family. This experience taught me how to perform well under pressure.”
Simply put, people who interview well are great story tellers. Essentially, we are telling our story when we are interviewing for a new job. Yet, most of us don’t see it this way when we are preparing for the big interview. We think about the questions we’ll need to answer and then come up with answers to plug-in when we are asked these questions. When we look at the questions separately and the answers we develop for these questions as separate from all the other interview questions we will be asked, we fail to prepare a theme. In this separation we forget to set up, share and then drive home the themes as to why we are the best candidate to hire.
The best advice I have ever received about building a theme for my story was from a public speaking course I took. The advice was, first, tell them what you’re going to tell them, then tell them about it, then wrap up by telling them what you told them. The key is the clear progress of theme for your story. This clarity can lead to success in educating a recruiter as to why you are the candidate for the job.
Here’s how to put this idea to work with building your story for interview success. First, think of three reasons you are great fit for the job. For example, you are applying for a sales position and your three reasons are that you are resilient, enjoy building new relationships, and you are organized. These three reasons are the themes for your story. So when the recruiters says “Tell me about yourself,” make sure you tell them you are resilient, organized and enjoy meeting new people. Then throughout the interview look for opportunities to discuss each of these ideas on who you are through a story about your experiences. If you are asked why they should hire you, tell them you have three reasons and then share these three characteristics with a brief example to back each up. Finally, when the interview is wrapping up remind them you are organized, enjoy building new connections, and are resilient. There you have it – you told them what you were going to tell them, you told them, and then you told them what you told them. It would be impossible for the recruiter to walk away from your interview and not know you are resilient, organized and outgoing. They will know your story as to why you are great fit for the sales position.
When preparing for your next interview, think big picture and develop a theme for the answers you are putting together for those typical interview questions. We all love stories and stories are how we explain who we are to others. If you story has a set of themes, your story has a consistent and clear quality that will help people remember you for all the right reasons. Good luck with your story – it is yours to write.