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When Preparing for a Job Interview, Know Your Story

The most important thing you can do in an interview is tell your story, and tell it in a compelling way. Each of us can recite our resume chapter and verse, but what makes a candidate truly stand out is his ability to share experiences through storytelling. Not just the dates and titles, but the exceptional highlights, the most poignant moments, the things that illustrate who you are in an interesting way.

When preparing for an interview, think about what makes you outstanding, and develop the stories to convey the details. Don't forget, while your story might be very exciting to you, like any good author, you have to use your words judiciously and edit wisely. You want to keep the hiring manager's interest throughout the interview.

Prepare for Tough Interview Questions by Practicing Your Story
Stories can help answer some tough interview questions like, "Why did you leave? What happened here? How come you left without a job?" Being prepared for these tough questions with answers that tell an informative and compelling story can have a direct impact on your ability to land the job.

Candidates need to understand that their story is unique, and should position their stories in the context of the questions being asked. Questions like, "What makes you different? Tell me how you stand out? How did you make a difference in that program you worked on? Tell me how you worked internally to get things done?" give you the opportunity to answer in a more informal fashion by sharing brief, effective and poignant stories.

Be Authentic, Be Interesting, Be Brief
It's not only painful to recite your resume dates and experience to someone, it's painful to listen to it too. Stay away from this approach. Imagine the interview as a conversation taking place in your living room. Steer clear of a monotone, regurgitation of your resume, and instead, build a story. Think about common interview questions and answers, and develop stories for each of your responses. Tell brief, succinct, interesting and authentic anecdotes to illustrate your experience, expertise and knowledge.
Even if there is a negative aspect to your story, you can share it in a way that explains it. For example, if you were laid off, there is a lot of ambiguity around that answer. But the right story can show that the company lost their funding, laid of three-quarters of their work force, and reluctantly let you go on excellent terms with a handful of references in your pocket.
The story has to honest, it has to have a purpose and it has to demonstrate success.  Don't be generic or vanilla - do be direct and confident.

Photo Credit: Small Business Trends