The power of storytelling in job interviews

Kerrie-Anne Chinn, Content & Editorial Manager

In today’s competitive job market, it’s important to find ways to stand out from the competition. Landing an interview for your dream job is great, but recruitment processes can be long and challenging – so you’ll need a few tricks up your sleeve to get through to the next round.

While it may sound like something from the school yard, storytelling can be a powerful secret weapon when it comes to job interviews. According to Gabrielle Dolan, author of Storytelling for Job Interviews, we “shouldn't underestimate the power of sharing relevant personal stories in interviews.” Sharing your stories, through storytelling, can help you stand out to hiring managers, allowing you to show off your communication skills, convey confidence and give interviewers a sense of your real personality.

Let’s look at why storytelling is such an important part of any job interview and how you can start using it for greater career success.

Interviews are Your Chance to Shine 

Dolan says that during interviews, some people make the mistake of reading out their employment history, rather than engaging the interviewer by telling relevant stories that demonstrate their strengths. Rattling off a list of bullet points from your resume is a waste of the interview time you’ve been given – for everyone. After all, your interviewer already knows this information and most likely has it in front of them on your CV.

As Dolan says, “if you’ve got an interview, you’ve most likely ticked all the boxes when it comes to skills, experience and qualifications.” Interviews are your chance to close the sale and seal the deal.

“The interview allows them to determine what you’re like… will they like working with you? Are you a good cultural fit for the company? Do you have the right values that the company is looking for?” she says. Don’t waste this opportunity to let your personality shine and show your interviewers why you’re the best fit for the position.

Sharing stories, from both your professional and personal life can be an excellent way to demonstrate to interviewers your skills and capabilities. Giving clear and relevant examples through storytelling can help hiring managers see why you're a valuable asset to their team and organization.

Storytelling Shows Employers Your Values

While having the necessary qualifications and experience are certainly important, employers are also interested in finding employees whose values are aligned with that of the organization.

When interviewing candidates, HR professionals pay close attention to an individual’s values, as well as their skills. This is particularly true in the non-profit and humanitarian sectors, for example, where values such as empathy and compassion are highly sought after and important for the job.

In an interview, you’re being given a wonderful opportunity to tell potential employers first-hand how your personal values can support the organization’s mission and vision. Storytelling allows you to go into a lot more depth in this area, with personal or work-related stories giving insight into the core values that are uniquely important to you.

You may be able to describe how overcoming a particular challenge helped you build greater resilience in the workplace, and how you can successfully apply that quality to the potential role. In this way, you can effectively demonstrate your values while building a stronger emotional connection with your interviewers.

Be Prepared for Your Next Interview

Now that you know why storytelling is so important for interviews, you can become better prepared for your next recruitment process.

Preparing some relevant personal and work-related stories that demonstrate both your capabilities and values will significantly increase your chances of success. Think of memorable experiences from your past jobs, or personal challenges you’ve overcome, that help showcase your skills and personality.

In doing this, you’ll also be well prepared with real-life examples that support all those bullet points on your resume. Don’t be afraid of sharing stories that show interviewers your vulnerability. Being able to talk about mistakes you’ve made in the past, or learning curves you’ve successfully traversed, shows a high level of self-awareness and the ability to continually develop.

The most important thing is to make sure the stories you tell in interviews are 100% real. Don’t be tempted to make up scenarios that might make you sound more interesting or highly skilled. Remember, interviews are an opportunity to see if each party is a good fit for the other – the job needs to be right for you, as well as you being right for the job. It’s vital that your stories show potential employers your authentic self, for your best chance at landing the job and enjoying a fulfilling career.


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