4 Novelist-Approved Interview Storytelling Techniques That Make Hiring Managers Fall Head Over Heels

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You may have heard the saying that people don’t remember what you said, they remember how you made them feel. In a job interview it’s no different. One of the greatest interview skills you can develop is storytelling.
  • Tell deliberate and concise stories
  • Use results-based examples
  • Prepare your stories ahead of time

1. Make stories about people.

“I think the best stories always end up being about the people rather than the event, which is to say character-driven.” — Stephen King
People connect through stories. Jen Morris, Executive Career Coach and Job Search Strategist,  says that in addition to making a connection, you can also use stories to both become likeable and as a way for someone to get to know you.
“A story is more memorable than textbook interview answer,” she says. “Stories are a great way to give the interviewer bit of something to remember you by, and if they remember you, they will push you to the next interviewer.”

Your stories can be about an event or situation, but telling an effective story will also show the interviewer how you relate to the people on your team.

2. Keep things moving.

“Never use a long word where a short one will do.” – George Orwell
Morris recommends you tailor your stories based on the job description and what outcomes and results the company is looking for you to achieve.
Morris says you want to keep the story brief and succinct, and avoid rambling or going too far in depth. She recommends the SOAR format: Situation you were facing, Opportunity you had, Action you took, Result you achieved. By coming up with a sentence or two for each letter, you will avoid talking for several minutes.
Also avoid the temptation to overshare personal or private details.

3. Focus on results.

“Cause and effect are king.” – Steven James
The most important part, Morris says, is being sure to include the “result” portion of the story. “Often people forget to talk about the result they achieved, but that is what continues to resonate with interviewer,” she says.
This “result” rule is also true for the oft-dreaded question, “Tell me about a time you failed.”
“Talk about how you failed, but be sure to tell a story about what you’ve done since that time showing you’ve incorporated what you’ve learned,” Morris says.

4. Make it seem effortless.

“Reports convey information. Stories create experience. Reports transfer knowledge. Stories transport the reader, crossing boundaries of time, space, and imagination. The report points us there. The story puts us there.” — Roy Peter Clark
While some questions practically beg for a story answer, you can also tell a story for non-story questions. For example, Morris said, don’t just reply, “Yes, I’ve done that.” Instead, say, “Yes I have X number years of experience from my time at X place, and in fact one of my proudest achievements for this company was when we did XYZ.”
Another tip Morris gives is when telling you stories, try and use similar verbiage to the interviewer’s verbiage. For example, if an interviewer asks you a question about a client, and you usually call them “customers,” use the term “client” instead.
“It’s easier for them to get caught up in their story if you are using the same terminology,” she says. “It makes the story sound very relevant and similar.”
Effective storytelling is an interview skill that will set you apart from your competitors. Once you’ve prepared your stories, practice and rehearse them ahead of time so they seem natural. Bounce them off of a friend or colleague, and take the feedback seriously. Then relax, and let the words flow.
— Jennifer L. Grybowski
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This article originally appeared on Ivy Exec.