Composing Your Stories in Writing Before the Interview Enhances Your Preparation
by Katharine Hansen and Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
OK, so you’re sold on the idea of telling stories in your job interviews. Can you simply think about the stories you want to tell? Sure, but composing written story responses to questions typically asked in job interviews provides a relatively painless way to prep effectively for a job interview.
Based on our research, personal experience, and anecdotal evidence from the college students we have taught, we are convinced that preparing written stories in response to job-interview questions will accomplish these goals:
- increase the interviewee’s level of confidence in responding to questions;
- show evidence of preparedness by providing thoughtful, non-rambling responses;
- increase the level of relevance by specifically addressing the questions;
- provide more detail and thoroughness in responding to questions;
- allow the interviewee to focus more on response delivery in the interview setting.
A number of years ago, we discovered that preparing written answers to job-interview questions helped us perform better in job interviews. That discovery prompted us to assign our students to compose responses to frequently asked interview questions. Because this assignment frequently has seemed to enhance performance both in mock interviews and actual job interviews, we turned to two disparate areas of research to understand why the technique was effective. We concluded that the phenomenon is closely related to Writing to Learn theory.
Research by Perry and Goldberg in 1998 suggested that interview preparation is important because their study showed that when recruiters were asked about college students they interviewed, interviewing skills surpassed the students’ background or experience in recruiter assessments of the likelihood that their companies would consider hiring a given student. We can then speculate that students (and other job candidates) who have better interview skills than others may have dedicated more effort to interview preparation than others.