Career Resources

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Do you have good stories for your interview?

If not, you should.  Don't you admire people who can tell a good story?  Well, you want to be "that guy" in your interview.  In preparing for your interviews, think of some good stories that have happened in your life so that you can use them, when appropriate, during your interview.  And no, your stories shouldn't involve anything to do with parties you've attended, people you've dated or quirky family traditions.  Instead, your stories should be about accomplishments you're proud of, successes you've achieved in life, times when you have satisfactorily resolved a problem, times when you used your creativity to think outside the box or times when you took initiatve.

During a recent mock interview with a student, I asked him if he had ever dealt with a difficult customer in his last job at a shoe store.  "Oh, yes," he enthusiastically replied.  "One time there was a woman who was trying on a boot and the zipper got stuck and she couldn't get the boot off.  My manager had warned me that I had to solve these situations on my own and not go to him any more so I had to think quickly.  I went into the back room of the store and Googled, "How to unstick a zipper," on my cell phone. The advice I found was to get some hand soap and a pencil.  Quickly, I ran to the bathroom to get some soap and then found a pencil. Then I went back to the customer, put some soap on the zipper and used the pencil as leverage to unzip the zipper."  "Then, what happened?" I asked.  "Well, the customer ended up buying two pairs of the boot in different colors!"  Wow! Not only was his story interesting but it showed that he would do whatever it took to make the customer happy and that he resolved the situation in an extremely positive manner.

Another student, who was Captain of his track team, was telling me about his greatest achievement during a mock interview.  His team was competing at a meet, and he was in the lead.  Suddenly, he realized that one of his teammates had fallen, and he was trying to decide what to do.  Should he keep going to ensure personal victory or should he stop to help his teammate?  I was on the edge of my chair, wondering what he ended up doing.  Well, you guessed it!  He went back to help his wounded teammate but still was able to break his personal record.  That story demonstrated many qualities about the student:  leadership, compassion, achievement and being a team player.

After you have chosen your stories, practice telling them to your friends and family members so that you can deliver them flawlessly in your interview.  By having several good stories in your back pocket, you can pull them out when needed during your interview, and they may be especially handy when you're stumped with that one question you hadn't prepared for.

By being a good storyteller on your interview, you'll increase your chances of having a happy ending to your interview by landing the job!    

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