Storytelling Can Land You That Job

By: Mary Anna Rodabaugh in Business Storytelling
on January 13th, 2022

Everyone knows the job interview is an opportunity to showcase your talents, passions, and personality. Beyond the standard resume, the interview is one of the critical steps that can lead you to employment. Before you prepare to rattle off your work experience, pause. Kelsey Schurer, executive editor for Round Table Companies, suggests treating your job interview like a story with a three-part structure.

When it comes to those situational questions we’re all familiar with, such as “Can you tell me more about yourself?” or “What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?” avoid boilerplate responses.

“Every situational question your interviewer asks you can benefit from a great story answer,” says Schurer. “And understanding how to tell an authentic story about yourself in a way that leaves a permanent mark—in a way that allows your prospective employer to really see you—is the key to standing out.”

Schurer goes on to remind us that we all have a story to tell. Whether we’ve overcome an obstacle or learned through a mistake, our work forces us to reach within and surface our inner heroes. But exactly how does one accomplish this?

A great story takes the audience on a journey with a clear beginning, middle, and end.

Find Your Storytelling Beginning

“The ‘before’ version of you was met with a challenge that forced you to learn, grow, and ultimately do something differently (the beginning),” says Schurer. This challenge is something that left a lasting impression on you. To begin, outline one of these instances and do your best to choose a moment that connects to the question at hand. For example, when your interviewer says, “Tell me about a time you faced a challenge at work,” share one of these “beginning” anecdotes.

Note key players, emotions you may have felt, and really set the scene.

“And understanding how to tell an authentic story about yourself in a way that leaves a permanent mark - in a way that allows your prospective employer to really see you - is the key to standing out. ”

The Meticulous Storytelling Middle

The middle of your story should be full of details that immerse the interviewer in your storytelling journey. It is where you faced conflict and made a choice regarding the situation from the beginning of your story. As Schurer says, sometimes you succeeded and other times you failed. There is nothing wrong with showing your humanness. In fact, it presents you as a multidimensional candidate who is willing to shine light in the dark places and embrace the human flaws we all have.

“Either way, you walked away with a lesson.”

The details you share will help you stand out from the competition. Do not just state that you won an award or accomplished a difficult task. Share those achievements through the context of a story.

Your Storyteller’s Ending

As you wrap up your story, be sure to articulate the transformation you experienced. Embed that vulnerability from your story’s middle to the conclusion.

Tell your story. 

“Vulnerable authenticity tells your interviewer that you won’t show up to work every day pretending everything is always awesome (a false reality and untruthful in the long run),” says Schurer. “And that means that anybody who works with you won’t have to show up as one-dimensional, either.”

The ending may shed light on a time you survived a challenge and emerged as a more powerful version of yourself. Or it may demonstrate lessons learned and used.

After all, the best job candidates are the best storytellers. They are people who have keen self-awareness of their strengths and their weakness and can also share those discoveries in an engaging manner.