Storytelling is a great way to express your experiences in a memorable way. Turn your accomplishments and experiences into stories that invite the listener into your life.
Once you find five to ten stories, we have to figure out how to organize this information so the story comes out clearly and concisely. You always want to walk a balance between engaging the listener, while avoiding boredom. Keep your stories concise so that every word supports your strategic plan.
Every story should have four parts:
- The beginning sets the stage. “There was this time we had this big problem with…”
- The middle describes what you did about that situation. “I pulled together a team to…”
- The end describes the outcome. “In the end, we reduced employee turnover by 5 basis points.”
- “What I learned” ties back to one of your strengths, which should be something important to the listener. The listener will remember the “what I learned” so make it good. “I learned that it is important to communicate well with the team.” Each story can have several things you learned so you can use one story to emphasize several points.
Write out your stories in this format, then say them out loud. I don’t know about you but nothing comes out of my mouth the way it sounds in my head, unless I practice out loud. Practicing out loud also imprints the story in your head so you can access it when you need it.
You can bring out the right story at the right moment if these stories are prepared in advance. Prepare stories that support what you want the hiring manager to know about you, your strengths, and your accomplishments. The hard part will be selecting which stories to share!
Edit your stories to about a 2-3 minute length. You know you can always talk for hours about topics that are important to you, but until you see that the listener is engaged, keep stories shorter or you risk boredom.
Some of you are saying, “Katherine, that story telling process sounds a lot like a good response to a behavioral interview.” Good catch! This four-step process, coincidentally, is the way you respond to a behavioral question that starts with, “Tell me about a time when…” Sometimes this interview technique is called EARL or STAR. I just refer to it as telling a story in four parts. It is easier for me to remember!
If you have 5 to 10 stories, you don’t have to prepare different responses to behavioral questions than you might prepare for Frequently Asked Interview Questions. If someone asks what your strength is, you can pull out a story to illustrate that strength instead of just saying one word. The story is memorable. That one word statement is not.
Refer to your stories in your LinkedIn profile too to add consistency between your in-person interviews and your online profile. Instead of saying, “Exceeded quota,” consider a headline that adds a story. Something like, “Landed the largest account in company history enabling the sales team to achieve a record sales year in 2018”. What a stronger impact, just from adding a story to your LinkedIn profile!