Take a moment and remember back to your childhood years with me. Think about camping trips you took with scouts, family, or just a group of friends. Imagine you are sitting around a roaring camp fire huddled together with your friends listening to a riveting ghost story. If told well, you can hear a pin drop. Were you one of the kids who could tell a story and draw people in, or did your ghost stories fall flat? I want to propose today that how you did in childhood ghost story telling can have an impact on how well you do today in job search – particularly interviews.
What the heck do ghost stories have to do with job search? Well strike the spooky bit and what you have is a story – a narrative which succeeds or fails based on the strength of its delivery. Our culture loves story – we get drawn into news items with intriguing narratives; celebrities get on talk shows to promote their work and tell funny stories, we devour autobiographies of interesting and inspiring figures. Just think about how much fun you have reeling people in with a really engaging story – and embarrassing moment maybe, or a childhood folly.
So again – what does this have to do with job search? Easy – interviewers like story too. I’m not talking about made up tall tales of workplace success. I’m talking about clear and concise examples of your skills and expertise. I’ve had the misfortune of sitting in on an interview where a candidate listed off his skills in a painfully “dry toast” way. It was thirty minutes of “I’m good at blah, blah blah….”. No one in the room was engaged, and we had no understanding of how this person’s so-called skills could fit in with our daily operations. All-in-all this interviewee didn’t ace it.
If the candidate had linked his skills to stories, he just might have turned it around. A winning interview strategy has you finding ways to prove your skills by illustrating them in the context of a project you are really proud of, or an innovation you brought to a former company that enhanced operations. You don’t need to share a novel – in fact, you should be ready with compact stories that you can share in a minute or two. When brainstorming these narratives be sure to remind yourself that your potential employer doesn’t know anything about your current or prior employer. You need to keep your stories macro and avoid getting into details that don’t directly illustrate your skills. Your employer doesn’t need to know the name of a company specific report you created – but they would benefit from knowing that your report creation decreased waste by 20%.
When you share in narrative during the interview phase, you get to be the strapping protagonist in your career story. Your skills begin to take on color and life and you get to entice the employer with snippets of your brilliance. So – from ghost stories to job interviews there is a common skill that makes one successful; the treasured art of storytelling.
Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev / FreeDigitalPhotos.net