The bullet-point approach to interview preparation is the most common. Candidates jot down points about the relevant information they'll want to relay in an interview. For instance, important information about the company where they are interviewing, their professional history, successes and opportunities etc., in order to prepare.
This approach is good, but it's not great.
When I work with clients in transition, I suggest they take a storytelling approach to interviewing and preparation.
Our brains LOVE stories, knowing this I wonder why defaulting to the conversation equivalent of listing bullet points is such a common technique among candidates when they interview. My suggestion to job-seekers is:
Tell your STORY!
Let’s consider an example…
Tell me about a situation where you might have approached a professional situation better. What was the situation and how would you have done things differently?
BULLET POINT APPROACH:
I worked with a woman who was routinely putting down our team’s Executive Assistant in group settings and in team meetings; sometimes she would even make faces behind our EA’s back back. I told her it was inappropriate and she stopped.
About five years ago, I was working in a small office. Many of us were young and became friends outside of work. One of my colleagues whom I considered a personal friend routinely made critical and disparaging remarks about our team’s Executive Assistant. The first time she did it I laughed. What she’d said was innocent enough and made light of a difficult situation.
Over time her comments about our EA became cruel and unprofessional and she would make them to an audience, not just to me individually. My breaking point was when she started making faces behind our EA's back to entertain team members. I booked a meeting with her and told her from that point forward I would not be engaging in this type of discussion about our EA, and suggested she stop making these types of comments; I explained this behaviour was hurting her personal brand and our colleague. Her comments stopped, at least when I was in the room, and we continued to work effectively together. Our friendship however was never the same. Upon reflection I realized I should not have laughed at her first joke about our colleague, and have learned not to validate that type of behaviour.
As you can see telling a story makes a remarkable difference.
These stories will not just fall out of the air and land in your vocal cords – preparation is key!
When preparing yourself for an interview, I recommend using a good old-fashioned pen and paper. Writing everything out freehand will make the stories easier for you to recall in an interview. I suggest writing your entire career story from beginning to end, taking each job and turning it into one ‘chapter’ so that each job or experience is a self-contained story. You will be absolutely amazed by the things you begin to remember and all the stories you have to tell.
Anticipate typical interview questions and include: interesting things that happened to you, fun and compelling people you met, barriers you confronted and overcame, what you learned, how you've grown and changed as the result of your experiences, your accomplishments and the value they added to the business.
Once you have your complete story the hard work is done...forever. Now all you will need to is refresh your memory before each interview. To do this, sit down a few days or the evening before your interview, again with a pen and paper, recall some of your stories. Prioritizing the ones you will most likely use at your interview. Write down these stories again from beginning to end.
You will be absolutely AMAZED by the difference this exercise will make to your confidence, your interview performance and your outcome. A storytelling approach will not only engage the hiring manager, this type of preparation and approach will make you feel more confident.
You will be so surprised how a small change can make sure a huge difference.
Amy Davies is a career advancement expert, insights executive and corporate trainer. She is the author of A Spark In The Dark: Illuminating Your Path To A Brilliant Career In A Reorg World. To set up a free 30-minute career consultation click here or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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