Telling Winning Stories Wins Interviews


Stories are the fundamental form of human communication. For the vast majority of human existence before the advent of the written word, stories were the sole way of communicating knowledge from one generation to another. We’ve told stories ever since our ancestors in their tribes gathered around the fire to share stories about the tribe’s history and daily events. Our brains are hardwired to respond to stories, and stories are persuasive because they engage our emotions as well as our intellect. Think about it- don’t you love a good story?

When skilled salespeople sell a service, they tell stories about the service: where the service has been used, who used it, how it was used, the problem it was purchased to solve, and the positive results it provided. Whenever possible, salespeople make the story dramatic and eventful. They give details about the circumstances, the individuals involved, how the service was used, details about the wonderful results, the problems solved, and the crises averted. They infuse the story with energy and excitement, leaving the customer enthusiastic about the service and wanting to purchase. Sounds like the exact outcome you want in your interview, doesn’t it?

Our stories define who we are. Our sense of identity is forged by the stories we tell ourselves and share with others. The success stories of our careers tell about the defining moments when we were at our best, using our strengths, and contributing in meaningful ways. Our stories build and communicate our brand.Most of us have multiple examples of career successes. The key is to understand that a career or job success is not defined by its size or financial value, but rather by how we feel about it and its contribution to the organization. One person’s success story might be about turning around a corporation, saving millions of dollars, and getting his profile in Forbes magazine. Another person’s success story might be about helping a troubled student feel more confident in school and having him progress to the next grade. Interestingly, both these success stories probably depend on many of the same personal success factors, including creativity, persistence, courage, hope, persuasion, and leadership.

Interviewers will understand your skills, background, and experience better when they are presented in the form of stories. (In fact, sometimes they will have trouble understanding them when they aren’t presented as stories.) Using stories, you will cut through the overwhelming number of facts and opinions that interviewers are hearing in every interview. You’ll tap into emotions and get hiring managers to hire you. Through your stories, you’ll communicate your brand, be more memorable, and be more charismatic- all interview-winning factors.

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