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Story Telling at Interview

How to Engage in Conversation and Telling your Story at Interview

Engagement - How to speak with people you have never met before and striking up a conversation.

To some, this comes quite naturally, but to others this is daunting. In circumstances, like an interview, it can make for a very anxious conversation. Being prepared with some top tips or ideas to focus on, will help you relax and give you substance to encourage engagement and connection with your interviewer.

So, from the moment you arrive at the interview, be aware of your surroundings.

  • Notice the person at reception
  • What does reception looks like?
  • Does the company have products on display?
  • Do they highlight their values?
  • Do they have awards, if so what for?

By taking in this information, you can use this as part of a conversation with your interviewer - they will note you have taken an interest too.

For example, you arrive at an interview and walk along a long corridor to the meeting room, you notice long term service awards of people who were celebrating 10, 20 or even 30 years’ service on the wall. This will lead to a really positive conversation with the employer about how long people like to stay with the company. Also, it will give you peace of mind this must be a great place to work, and they have a strong and steady workforce.

Interview - The employer has seen your CV and asked to see you for interview. You are halfway there, now it is up to you!

You have carried out your research into the Company, checked who the hiring manager is on LinkedIn and found out the company values. You know about the product/service the company sells, who their competitors are, checked out GlassDoor - you feel ready for interview.

Telling your story

The interview is your chance to tell your story. It doesn't need a stereo-typical beginning, middle and end as this can make your answers far too long and dis-engage your interviewer, however it does need a structure. Explain the situation and give an outcome.

  • What you have learned from each role you have worked in and how you performed in that role?
  • What was the most challenging part of the role? 
  • How would you measure your success?
  • If you are in sales, have the facts, figures, percentages you achieved and be prepared to talk about them in detail
  • Another measure of success may be your team, if you manage one, what changes have you made to enable this success?
  • You might have people in your team who have gone on to be promoted elsewhere in the business, what did you do a manager to support them?
  • What was the motivation to move from each role?

There may be parts of your career you did not enjoy, be prepared to answer questions about these too. The types of answer to give, “I found this role particularly challenging because…”, rather than “I was really not happy there because….”. Tell the story of how you tried to manage the challenge/issue and what you did, as well as the outcome. Let them get to know you and your story. 

The way you respond to questions and how you come across at an interview, how you dealt with challenging times, will show your ability to navigate and manage challenges and how you approach them.

If you get asked a question and you are not quite sure what sort of answer they are looking for, take a moment. It's totally fine to ask a question to clarify what they are looking for, to check you are on the right lines. It does not show a weakness, it just shows you are putting thought into the information they are looking for and managing the situation. 

Most of all, focus on:

1) Being thoroughly prepared - this will keep you focused and your answers in line with the role you're interviewing for

2) If you're nervous about interviews, do a "spot check" in the office when you arrive and remember something which really impressed you. Comment on it, show interest! It will increase engagement

3) Tell your story - be structured, be detailed, be clear about the outcomes, be solutions focused

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