A good story can do everything that you want in an interview—leave a strong impression, be memorable, have a strong message about morals and values, and leave your interviewer with an emotional connection to you.
But fitting a story into your interview needs to be natural. You don’t want to respond to a question about where you see yourself in 5 years with a story about your problem-solving skills. If you are a skilled enough conversationalist to do so, you probably wouldn’t be reading this.
For those of us who need a little guidance throughout the conversation and interview process, here are some key tips to fitting a story into your interview—and making the most of it.
Keep it Short
Don’t worry about getting every detail just right in the story. No good storyteller quibbles about the hair-color or time of day. They get to the point while making sure to hit their key points. This isn’t to say it shouldn’t be entertaining, but you want to keep it brief enough to not interrupt the flow of the interview or lose your interviewer’s attention.
Focus on the Point
During an interview, don’t try to work in a story that shows you’re the perfect candidate for every moment. Pick your best story that connects to some value that the position requires. If the position you’ve applied to emphasizes problem-solving, don’t worry about including how you solved a problem and sold the solution and managed a team and on and on. Keep just one takeaway in focus.
Have a prop
You don’t have to bring in a Carrot-top style item into the interview (in fact, it’s probably best you don’t) but having a visual aid will go a long way for your memorability. If you have a photo during or around the story you want to tell, have it queued up on your phone. Photos are easiest to bring along, but there’s room for flexibility, just keep in mind what is ‘interview appropriate.’
Have a Script and Prepare to Toss It
Alongside not including too many details comes having the key details practiced. If you have somebody sit with you for a practice interview, make sure to include your story with them. Be prepared to work on the script a bit, but also be ready to leave the story if a good opportunity presents itself. Your interviewer likely has a few stories of their own, and if you can coax one out of them, you could have an even better impact. If your story includes college, and they mention their own experiences, asking about them could help connect your story to their own.