Unlike with resumes, cover letters, networking, and portfolios, the integration of story with employment interviewing has been a well-known and highly touted technique for some time. Career author Frank Traditi, who titles his article on the subject, “Why Storytellers Get the Job they Want,” recommends success stories about overcoming significant challenges.
In focus-group research conducted for this book, participants were asked to evaluate a set of story-based interview responses compared with responses that did not contain stories. Of participants preferring the storied responses, comments included:
- The story responses presented more information.
- The story responses incorporated the job-seeker’s personal style into handling business.
- The job-seeker who gave the story responses communicated/sold herself in a very positive light.
- The storytelling respondent was the more memorable candidate since “I would have had more time to get to know her through her answers and the time I spent with her.”
- The story responses were quite the opposite of those without stories in that the storytelling job-seeker expressed herself in a “colorful” manner. She incorporated into her stories terms that employers like to hear during an interview “ reliable, trustworthy, loyal, team player, creative.
- The storytelling responses allowed the interviewer to see how the job-seeker took on a task and handled it.
- The non-story responses, although concise, did not impress upon the interviewer how the job-seeker could benefit the organization, nor did they provide a sense of his personal style and ways of handling the day-to-day situations that may arise.
The one caution these participants had about the storied responses was to make them as concise as possible and not too wordy. Participants wanted details “ but not too many. “Although one does not want to go overboard when talking about [oneself],” one participant said, “it is important to incorporate the needs of the employer with the qualities of person being interviewed.”
Stories in Behavioral Interviews
Typically, career experts advise candidates to respond to behavioral-interview questions with stories. “Your examples are best told through a story format,” writes Carole Martin in Boost Your Interview I.Q. “The more interesting and relevant the story is, the more the interviewer will want to hear further examples.”
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