Interviews are uncomfortable
You’d like to know exactly what to expect.
But, it feels impossible because
You don’t know exactly what the interviewer will ask
The secret to making uncomfortable conversations, like an interview, more comfortable is knowing what you’re going to say.
Interviews are similar to speeches, very few leaders will speak at a Town Hall or company gathering without formal remarks and advance preparation.
But many people go into an interview without advance preparation. I’ve seen this mistake tank even the most qualified candidates.
When it comes to interviews, you first want to know WHO you’re talking to
Once you know WHO, you’re instantly more comfortable.
You ask the recruiter or look the interviewer up on LinkedIn. You might even ask someone about them.
That’s one piece of the interview and it’s pretty easy to gather up information and move away from feeling uncomfortable.
It gets significantly trickier to decide WHAT you’re going to talk about
Unless what you’re going to say isn’t 100% reliant on what they ask.
And that’s where a great story comes in.
If you are one of the few who prepare for an interview, chances are that you’ve relied on a STAR story.
You are probably familiar with the STAR method or stories.
STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. The method was originally developed by DDI, a leadership consulting company, in the 1970’s and it was designed to assist with answering behavioral based questions, sometimes referred to as situational interviews.
As part of the STAR method, you are asked to provide work examples related to specific questions the interviewer is asking.
The STAR method is widely-used and can be useful when you need to describe past experiences and showcase your skills and achievements.
There are shortcomings to this approach.
- Rigid Structure: The STAR method requires a specific structure, which may feel restrictive for some candidates.
It can be challenging to fit every story or experience into the four components of the STAR framework, especially if the situation doesn’t perfectly align with the structure.
- Lack of Flexibility: The STAR method may not allow for flexibility or adaptation in certain interview situations.
Some interviewers are more conversational and the rigid structure of the STAR method may not align with their style or expectations.
- Focus on Past Experiences: The STAR method focuses on past experiences and achievements.
While it is essential to showcase your relevant accomplishments, it may not fully capture your potential for future success or your ability to adapt to new challenges.
- Limited Contextual Information: The STAR method often emphasizes the specific situation, task, action, and result without providing broader contextual information.
This can make it challenging for interviewers to understand the larger impact or significance of the candidate’s experience.
- Lack of Reflection: The STAR method does not explicitly include a reflection component, where candidates can discuss what they learned or how they grew from the experience.
Reflection is valuable as it showcases self-awareness, the ability to learn from experiences, and personal development.
- Potential for Formulaic Responses: Because the STAR method is well-known and widely used, some candidates may provide rehearsed or formulaic responses to behavioral questions.
This can make it difficult for interviewers to gauge your authenticity and true problem-solving abilities.
In a nutshell, this framework fails to invite the listener into the conversation. They are effectively a third-party observer.
The focus of a STAR story is on telling and explaining rather than on sharing and involving the listener.
You are a Storyteller
You tap into your inner storyteller all the time.
You tell stories to your friends and family.
You tell stories on the sideline at your kids’ soccer games and at family gatherings.
You’re a storyteller and I’m willing to bet a pretty good one.
you’ve been telling stories of all shapes and sizes since the time you can talk!
When you are relaying what just happened to you at the grocery store,
Or, talking about the goal your child just scored
Or, the sharing the latest shenanigans of your pup to your sister.
You’re relying on one of the most effective forms of communication: a story.
To tell a compelling story in an interview, you want to start with the Right Story.
To start, decide on a story that is relevant to the job you’re applying for and highlights your key skills and experiences.
It should demonstrate your ability to overcome challenges, achieve results, or showcase your problem-solving abilities.
It’s worthwhile to list out all of the significant to you stories you have to tell, creating your Story Inventory.
Significant to you means that was impactful to the company or you because of it’s regular occurrences. Alternatively, it may be an infrequent occurrence with a big impact.
Don’t ignore the small stories that have a big impact because of their regularity.
Use these elements to massively enrich the story you’re telling
- Be clear about the “Unknown and Known Characters” in the story. Does the interviewer know anyone in the story? If not, who were they? What was the problem they had? Make them multi-dimensional.
- Share contextual knowledge that ensures the listener understands the importance or value of story.
- Describe the emotion of the situation. There’s always emotion involved in telling a memorable story. Tap into your EQ to share what was happening with interpersonal relationships. How was the situation impacting relationships? This is a key to connecting with the interviewer.
- You can vary the story. Often, there’s also some variation depending on who you’re telling the story to. The frequent listeners of my stories are my sisters and my husband. I share way more details of the same story with my sisters than with my husband.
- Be Kind. You want to leave a positive and professional impression on the interviewer. Being a great storyteller means you can have a chance to share how you handled difficult situations with grace.
By sharing a story that goes beyond the facts and figures and involves the listener through the use of character clarity, context, emotion, and kindness, you’re tapping into a powerful tool that can help you leave a lasting impression on interviewers.
Get out there.
You got this.