Land into Your Dream Job by Story Telling, Not Fact Telling

Land into Your Dream Job by Story Telling, Not Fact Telling was originally published on Ivy Exec.

You have an upcoming interview, and you want to leave a great impression on the hiring panel. How do you approach it?

The Expectations of Hiring Managers Have Changed

Traditionally, candidates go over their fact books, trying to revise their career path, list of key achievements, and other factual details in order to prepare for potential questions they may face.

However, gone are the times when hiring managers expected linear, textbook responses that showed that the candidate was ‘well-informed’ or ‘knowledgeable.’

Workplace problems have moved beyond the application of information or knowledge. Across the board, most global organizations and businesses utilize wisdom-based solutions. Therefore, hiring managers want candidates able to tell a story, narrate an incident, walk us through an experience, and, more importantly, present their wisdom.

Power of Story Telling

The power of storytelling lies in its ability to connect with and engage audiences deeply emotionally.

Stories can convey complex ideas, values, and experiences in a relatable and memorable way, making them an effective tool for communication and persuasion. They have the capacity to inspire, influence, and shape our understanding of the world, making storytelling a fundamental and timeless aspect of human communication and culture.

Learning from Model Story Tellers

We all have met the best-known storytellers. They are/were our grandparents.

Have you wondered why we always viewed them as possessing immense wisdom? We are always amazed at how learned individuals they were, even though some of them never stepped foot in the school.

We viewed our grandparents, parents, or other elders as full of wisdom because they used to narrate captivating stories. They followed a unique method of storytelling, which in the modern world can be termed as Storytelling in Context. In that method, they would often begin with a context in which the story is situated. They narrated the story through characters, places, situations, incidents, and a hero’s journey.

However, they would not summarize their lessons or points at the end. Their learning points used to be embedded into their narration of incidents and often spread throughout the storyline. Their stories typically would not culminate into a sentence like: ‘Hence, the moral of the story is..’ The lessons or key takeaways would already be there in the body of the story.

That’s why those stories stayed in our memories for so long, as well as stories and lessons.

The most memorable candidates are those who use storytelling in the same way.

A Powerful Approach to Become a Memorable Candidate

Don’t you want to be that kind of memorable candidate whose ‘boasting of achievements’ or ‘conquests over challenges’ stay so memorable to the hiring managers that they would inevitably hire them? This is how you can do it.

Following the Storytelling in Context method, an ideal candidate would respond to a question, not with a statement. Instead, they would directly start a story with a contextual element. “I was new in this job, with just six months into the job. We ran into an issue…”

The ideal storytelling candidates would not summarize the approach, thinking process, technique, or lesson at the end. Rather, they would integrate their thinking and perspective into the incidents and literally draw hiring managers into those situations as observers. It is best to leave it to hiring managers to conclude in their own way, which may work in favor of the candidate.

The reason is that when the hiring manager’s attention is taken away from transactional information and directed towards an authentic situation, even an irrelevant job experience appears relevant to most problems due to the unavoidable phenomenon of visualization triggered by these stories.

The story-listening experience will likely stay with the hiring manager much longer. The candidates who are able to create memorable, emotionally strong impressions and vivid visualizations through their stories stand better chances of getting hired.

Key Guidelines to Tell Stories

While storytelling is an art, it also depends upon the content you choose to tell as a story. Here are a few tips for preparing better story-based responses:

👉 Choose Relevant Stories

Select anecdotes that directly relate to the job and company culture.

If you are applying for a technical job, you better choose a story that revolves around technical challenges. Then, highlight experiences that showcase exactly your skills, qualifications, and alignment with the role you’re interviewing for. The best stories are where you accomplished a result.

However, make sure to mention the metrics of success upfront in the story to clarify what results or success you were chasing in that story.

👉 Start With Emotional Context 

Follow a clear structure, such as the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) or PAR (Problem, Action, Result) method. In either case, the context must come first.

Make sure to make the context or challenge emotional by painting the severity, impact, and repercussions of a problem. From emotional, we don’t mean you get over-excited. As managers and leaders, all hiring managers are concerned about financial results, success, differentiation, and other powerful results that can make them look good.

Thus, start by setting the scene, explaining the task or problem, detailing the actions you took, and concluding with the positive results achieved.

👉 Be Authentic

In all this, do not fabricate your stories.

There is no need to customize or tailor stories to the role. It is better not to pick what is not relevant rather than fabricate the context and results. Be yourself and be honest in your storytelling. Authenticity can help you connect with the interviewer on a personal level. Maintain a positive and professional tone throughout your storytelling. Even when discussing challenges, focus on how you overcame them and what you learned.

👉 Highlight Your Skills And Accomplishments

Remember that stories or incidents that you tell must integrate the skills and accomplishments you want to highlight.

However, you can do so when you paint the picture of the challenge well enough. Emphasize your contributions and achievements in the story. Explain how your actions led to positive outcomes and benefits for your previous employers.

Final Thoughts

You should use storytelling in job interviews where possible because it helps them effectively communicate their qualifications and experiences compellingly and memorably.

Stories create a personal connection with interviewers, making candidates more relatable and memorable. Moreover, storytelling allows you to illustrate your problem-solving skills, adaptability, and how you have successfully overcome challenges, giving interviewers a clearer picture of their potential contributions to the organization.

While doing so, use storytelling to the extent possible instead of fact-telling alone. You must mention facts and evidence within the story rather than responding only in terms of facts and figures. Before you begin an answer, consider if you have a relevant incident which you can tell and rope the facts and figures the hiring manager is looking for into it. If you play it right, nothing can come on your way to your dream job.

Connect with Dr Raman K Attri to learn science-based techniques to accelerate your career.

By Ivy Exec
Ivy Exec is your dedicated career development resource.