Another possible formula for telling stories in an interview is what scholars Sandra Morgan and Robert Dennehy describe as “the traditional framework of universal steps displayed in myths, hero stories, classic fairy tales, ethnic stories, and many of your own family stories.” The authors cite these “five sequential components” in a good story: (a) setting, (b) build-up (“trouble’s coming”), (c) crisis or climax, (d) learning, and (e) new behavior or awareness; in other words, “What did you learn?” and “How did you change?”
Setting: One of my customers wanted to get involved with digital printing, and since I knew our had the technology and the capabilities, I set up a meeting to discuss this new technology.
Build-up: I pulled all the sales sheets from the intranet, gathered up samples, and prepared for my big opportunity. As I prepared, I made an initial call to the VP of Sales for that particular business unit and let him know I had set this meeting to discuss the digital products.
Crisis or climax: What I did not know was that the customer was eager to proceed with this technology. The morning of the meeting, the customer had called in its own clients to lay out the project and launch date. As I walked into the meeting and the questions started, I knew I needed some help.
Learning: I explained to the group that I wanted to get the correct answers to these technical questions and would they mind if I brought in the VP of that division. After a few minutes, I was able to track down the VP, and we succeeded in pulling together the resources and staff to immediately start working on this project. The reps from the client company were very impressed with the fact that I admitted I did not have all the answers and that I wanted to make sure they received the right information. I learned that it’s best to be forthcoming and not try to fake my way through an important meeting or presentation.
New behavior or awareness: We are now producing monthly programs for this client using the digital print technology, and revenue for 2005 was $100,000 and projected at $200,000 for 2006. I’ve subsequently made it a point to anticipate contingencies better than I did in that situation “ but also to know that I can bring in other resources when I have gaps in my knowledge.
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