You may already know the basics of interview storytelling: be concise, use the STAR format, practice in advance, and so on. Well, in this post I’m going to go beyond those basics and give you some handy new tricks. Here are some of my advanced storytelling techniques for job interviews.
Include the big Obstacle.
You probably know about the STAR format, where you tell a story that includes the initial Situation or problem you faced, the Task that was required (or better yet, the Target you set for yourself), the Action you took, and the Results you achieved.
That’s good, but let’s take it one step farther. As you took action, what was the biggest obstacle that got in the way of achieving your result? Often, telling how you skillfully overcame that obstacle will greatly enhance your story.
That’s why I coach my clients to think in terms of SOAR stories—Situation, Obstacle, Actions, Results. Don’t make the obstacle a “must,” though. Only include it if it makes the story better, and if it won’t make your story too long.
Use expandable answers.
As you know, it’s important to make your answers concise. Most interview answers should be about a minute long, maybe two minutes in some cases. But what if you have a lot more you could say?
Give a one-minute answer, ending with something like, “There’s more I could say about the techniques I used/cool features of the product/benefits of the project, but I know we have limited time.” The interviewer can choose to hear more, or not. Want to know more about this technique?
Don’t have time to include a story? Give a teaser.
Let’s say you’re answering a broad question like “Tell me about yourself,” and there’s a story you’d love to include but it would make the answer too long. Instead, just say, “I have a story about this that I’d love to tell you at some point.” Even if you never get a chance to actually tell the story, your answer gains a bit of extra credibility.
Can’t decide which story to tell? Offer two and let them choose.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell which story would best answer the interviewer’s question.
Let’s say the interviewer asks, “Tell me about how you handled a difficult situation.” You might say, “I can think of two stories. One involves a team member who was having conflicts with others, and the other is about a client who wanted to change the scope of the project. Which one sounds more interesting to you?”
This way, not only are you going to tell the most appropriate story, but you’re demonstrating that you have lots of stories, plenty of accomplishments to talk about.
What if you don’t have lots of stories? Based on my experience as an interview coach, I believe you have more than you think. Here’s how to identify those stories and build your list.
Practice these advanced storytelling techniques for interviews–and get that job!