“Once upon a time...” four words that kick off imagination like no other. Those four words, in particular, are ingrained in our minds. We know that anything followed by those four words will captivate and generate anticipation.

Imagine getting that same level of interest when you’re responding to interview questions. You can, if you focus on telling great stories.

With any story, there is a framework comprised of 3 parts - a beginning, middle and end. The beginning (part 1) should be brief. It’s short and to the point. It’s meant to capture attention and lure the audience to the heart of your story.

Part 2, the middle of the story, is the meat. This is the part of the story where all the data, statistics, accomplishments and achievements take place. This is where all the activity occurs, and where the greatest amount of time is spent.

The third part of the story is the end. It’s the resolution or outcome of all the previously described activity.

The magic of great storytelling is that it is personal. It’s intimate. It’s spontaneous…evolving. You can look into the eyes of your audience and really connect. Just be sure to listen, you don’t want to talk at the audience. You want to talk with them.

If you apply storytelling framework to an interview setting, you have a great opportunity to engage the interviewer and win the interview. Prepare ahead of time. Reflect upon specific situations or
experiences you’ve had in your career, as well as the knowledge gained from each experience.

Write down and refine the stories. Once you’ve edited and identified the key verbiage you want to use, read and re-read your stories. Do it in front of a mirror. After several run-throughs, set the paper aside and tell the story, with a big smile on your face, to yourself in the mirror.

Sounds corny, right? Guess what? It really works.

Interview storytelling framework, similar to all stories, has 3 parts. Rather than beginning, middle and end, though, we speak in terms of situation, action and outcome. Referring to a specific situation, the action you took and the ultimate outcome, will help you to be clear and concise while expressing your point of view.

Stick to key areas of focus when preparing for interview storytelling. Use examples of your performance in real-life scenarios. Talk about how you solved problems or increased performance. Talk about how you developed and influenced a team, or how you were influenced by a team (or former leader). Share a learning experience or a creative campaign, and the results achieved.

Great interview responses, like storytelling, are interactive and conversational. By investing time in preparation, you will be able to roll with the flow of the interview. The calmness and professionalism you exude will likely generate further interest.

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Comment by Ty Sullivan on May 10, 2010 at 7:04am
"Once Upon a Time there was a gifted dog with great wisdom and when he barked, people listened!" Great advise! And if heeded, everyone will live happily ever after.

Comment by Paul Paz on April 13, 2010 at 3:54pm
Storytelling is a great techique to elevate the service-sales experience.... for both the staff and cusotmers!
Comment by David Rose on April 13, 2010 at 1:59pm
Sounds like a great idea. Let me bounce it around with the team. Maybe something we can partner on?
Comment by Michael Biesemeyer on April 13, 2010 at 1:42pm
@David: you ever thought about offering your clients a webcam-based service that would allow them to practice their storytelling techniques? You could help them come up with a list of talking points, and then have them record their answers on webcam and share them with the rest of your staff (or social network, if you have one). Might be a nice little value add for YELLOWDAWG.




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