Interview Tips part 3: Sharing Stories

How to Tell Stories

(click below to view the video or read on if you’d prefer!)

Here are two more tips to help you prepare for interviews so that you can stand out relative to all the other candidates. So let’s get started with my third interview tip.
   3. The “Experience Story”: It’s How, not What.
In my previous post, I left off with the mention of an “experience story”. Telling an “experience story” is how you answer the questions of the interviewer. The objective is for you to demonstrate how your knowledge, skills, prior experience are relevant to this particular role and how they will benefit the company.
In that context, whatever you are talking about, give specific details. Don’t just say “I’m a fast learner” but rather “During this project, it was important for me to learn the basics of accountancy fast and I did that by….” or “I like to work with others” but rather “During this project, I worked with people from several departments and I could see the value of diversity because ….” What you are doing is sharing your “experience stories”.
“Experience stories” show how you operate. Your CV should have given the interviewer the information they were looking for about what you can do so now they need to hear about how you do what you do. Show how you practically apply the knowledge you have accumulated. Give them a sense of what your contribution might look like. Going back to my point about rapport, the more the interviewer is able to visualise you as part of the team, working alongside its current members, the likelier you are to get a call back.
Tell them also how you’ve solved problems in actual concrete circumstances. Many interviewers will ask: “what did you do you” type of questions because they’re trying to see what value you can bring from prior experience. Say: “We had a bit of a similar situation at ABC Company and how I helped was XYZ.” It does not need to be exactly the same issue that you dealt with previously but clearly you need to pick an example that is close enough.
The “experience story” gives the interviewer what is called “a future experience today” – that is to say, it shows them today how working with you in the future will be like.
Like road-testing a car.
Once you’ve shared an “experience story”, use it to check how you’re doing in the interview. Get them to agree that this kind of experience will be valuable for their firm. Ask if this is the kind of skill they are looking for with this recruitment. Say something like: “Do you think that having this type of experience will help me succeed in this particular position?”
    4. Investigate the company and prepare probing questions.
Here’s why you’ve got to do some detective work on the company you’re interviewing with:
  • First, to determine whether the company is right for you. You may just find a dislike for a particular industry, happen upon some corporate dirt on the Internet, like poor employee relations. It’s also possible you won’t like the company’s products or services.
  • Second, to decide if you’re right for the company. Some companies or industries may not be the right fit for your skill set or for your ethics.
  • Third, to help address the needs of the organization. Knowing why the company needs to hire for a position is key to addressing how you can help the company. Knowing specifically what makes the company tick can turn your answers and choice of “experience stories” into powerful weapons with which to attract interest.
  • Finally, to help you which show the interviewer you have taken the time to research the company and to apply your thinking skills to formulating incisive questions. This shows another type of competence. Knowing specific industry information or showing advanced product knowledge can get you closer to an offer.
Search the web, the company’s own site of course but pull up articles as well as your get a variety of viewpoints. I would suggest you download the company’s financial statements.
I can show you how to formulate these probing questions. If you are bold enough, you might even ask the interviewer, assuming it’s the actual hiring manager, what’s the most pressing problem that he/she is dealing with today, and then propose or discuss a solution. Don’t just talk about it: use a white board or a piece of paper. Get the interviewer engaged!
This concludes this month’s series on interview tips. Give them a try and don’t hesitate to let me know how you get on by leaving me a comment or emailing me at!
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