Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Tips on Preparing Your “Stories” for Interviews

In past blog entries, we have mentioned that it’s very important to have some interesting but concise stories to use during your interviews.  It’s critical to walk into your interview prepared for the questions you will be asked, and choosing and preparing your stories ahead of time is a vital part of that process.  Here are a few tips to help you prepare.

•Why Tell A Story?

So, why do you want to tell a story?  When someone asks you a question during your interview, it’s more personal and interesting if you can use an example of a particular work project or problem that you have faced and describe how you handled that situation.  Telling a story will be more compelling and genuine that simply listing your accomplishments – make sure that your voice comes through and that it doesn’t sound rehearsed or cliché. 

•Which Stories Should You Choose?

Think of at least 3 great stories that you can use to answer several questions that you would expect to be asked during your interview.  Take a careful look at your resume and find 3 instances where you are proud of your work and that illustrate your unique skills and expertise.  Make sure these stories are relevant to the position for which your are interviewing.  These 3 stories should showcase your motivation, creativity, positive attitude, intelligence, and spirit.

•Preparing Your Stories

Prepare each story ahead of time, keeping in mind that each should be concise and no longer than 3-4 minutes. After you choose 3 stories, ask yourself the following questions about each one:

-- What was this project about? (Be as specific as possible by including the numbers instead of adjectives).
-- What challenges did you face?
-- What were your individual contributions (not the team)?
-- How did you solve the challenges presented?
-- Why did you choose to utilize specific technologies?
-- What was the outcome?
-- What did you learn from this experience?

•Make Sure to Follow Through

Make sure you conclude each story with a lesson that was learned, a successful outcome, or something else that highlights the relevance of this particular work experience.  For example, if speaking about a “failure” or problem you faced, make sure to include what you learned from it and how you have managed to approach things in a different way because of this incidence.  This “follow through” will not only wrap up a story, but also show your ability to learn and grow from your experiences.

•Keep your Goal in Mind

It is essential to continuously keep your goal in your mind when preparing and telling your stories.  A good story is not only compelling but will tell the listener more about you.  Are you the kind of person who would fit well in this company? Would this team enjoy working with you?  Your goal is to meaningfully discuss your own projects and to make certain that your interviewers get a good understanding of your accomplishments even if they are not familiar with the specifics.

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