The Art of Effective Storytelling When You Interview

An interview can be a question and answer session, or it can be much more.

Interviewers and recruiters schedule interviews because they want to understand your soft skills, like communication and time management, and they want to see how you implement those skills in ways that might benefit their organization.

To make your presentation memorable, tell a story.

Stories are easier to remember than lists of facts. They present relationships between ideas that are easy to grasp. They can inspire action – like the action of offering you a position.

To improve your storytelling in an interview, focus on these tips:

Showcase your top achievements.

List the 3-5 biggest accomplishments you’ve reached in your career so far. As you do, think not only about big achievements others recognize, like earning a degree, but also achievements that were “big” for a client or a former employer, like winning a tough case.

Identify the “story elements” in each achievement.

Good stories use a combination of characterization, conflict and realization to generate interest and move the reader through the plot. In the stories of your achievements, consider:

  • Characterization: Who was involved? How did they respond to the challenge?
  • Conflict: What made the task challenging? Did any additional problems come up along the way?
  • Realization: How did you change or adapt your approach so you could succeed? What did you learn?

These elements become the building blocks for the story you’ll tell in interviews.

Build a (brief) story from the elements of each achievement.

For interviews, you’ll want to boil each accomplishment’s story down to its main elements. Aim to tell the story in no more than three sentences.

First, focus on the challenge: “Our client had a major hearing coming up, and our team leader got very ill.” Next, describe how you met that challenge: “Although no one else on the team had leadership experience, I stepped up because I knew how important it was to help our client.” Finally, describe the result: “It took a few late nights, but we presented a compelling case at the hearing and the client was very happy with the results.”

Choose the stories that fit each job and employer best.

Ideally, you’ll have about five to seven stories in your collection – but you won’t tell all of them at every interview. Instead, look at each job description. Research each employer. Note key values, skills and traits the employer emphasizes, and choose the stories you’ll tell that demonstrate your use of these abilities.

At Kent Legal, our recruiters help legal support professionals find opportunities to write their story with some of the best law firms in the greater Toronto area. Contact us today to learn more.

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