Your Best Interview: Share a Story

Interviewing – one of the most essential life skills that is NEVER taught in school. It’s also never taught in the work place for obvious reasons. BUT, we all have to do it, so how do we develop that skill?

For six years, I competed in local Miss America programs. For six years, I received interview training. What many people don’t know about a Miss America competition is that your highest score comes from your interview. The audience doesn’t even see the interview. Believe it or not, it's among the most grueling interview processes you could ever have. They aren’t asking you questions like “what’s your perfect date?” They are asking you questions about current events, controversial topics, your political beliefs (local, state, AND national), pop culture, your personal goals, and your past accomplishments. Whew! That’s quite the list. I’ve even been asked about a story that was published in my local newspaper the morning of my interview. Uhh… The purpose of the Miss America interview is to get to know you very quickly and to see if you can hold up under major pressure.

Consequently, I’ve gotten pretty good at interviewing and I want to share what I know with you.

Interview ready!

Interview ready!

One of the best skills to work on is storytelling. If you are in an interview, you may get questions asking you to tell a story (i.e. Tell me about a time you solved a problem at work.) Many times, you won’t get a question that is so obviously begging for a story (i.e. How would your coworkers describe you?) With a question like that, you might be tempted to give a short one word response like “punctual” or “collaborative.” However, it is much better to elaborate with a story.

Why? Well, have you ever been to a party where someone would only reply to you with short answers lacking any detail whatsoever? You probably noticed that 1) it makes them seem socially nervous, and 2) it makes them seem like a one-dimensional, boring sack of skin. At parties, you automatically gravitate toward the dynamic storyteller, the one who seems to have a story relating to anything, because that makes it easy for YOU to relate to THEM.

It’s the same with an interview. Based off your résumé, they already know you can do the job. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have called you in to interview. They want to know if you would be a good fit on their team. Sharing personal anecdotes in response to interview questions is one of the easiest and quickest ways to seem personable, interesting, and relatable.

Tell a story. Paint them a picture. Try it and let me know how it goes.