Stories Advance Job Interviews.

Draw Interviewers Into YOUR Achievements.

Give Every Story a Purpose !

When you do tell a story during the job interview, the story must be able to advance the interview process and leave the interviewer with a lasting, positive impression of you compared to the other people you are competing with for the job.

No question that there is a bit of an art to story telling. But even terrible story tellers can pick up on that art with a bit of practice BEFORE the job interview. With some practice and some coaching—from me—you can learn when to tell a story and the mechanics for doing so.

First, let’s address the mechanics of story telling, then we’ll get into how to time your stories to enhance the impact and make better lasting positive impressions.

Though YOU can be trained to tell better interview stories, just keep in mind that any story is better than no story, even if you don’t follow these tips. But applying these tools, below, may elevate your stories.

Before you open your mouth to tell your story, it is important to keep in mind that you are NOT having a mere conversation, despite how skilled the interviewer is at making you feel comfortable. Your stories must have purpose. They must be short, interesting, and advance the discussion. But, what makes for a great story? Story telling is a craft from time immemorial. In recent history newspaper reporters were taught to cover the 5-W’s. So, let’s start with that.


Who, What, Where, When and Why…and sometimes, How.

That needs no explanation. That’s very complete and you can stop there. Just cover your “W’s” when answering a question about your contribution and role. And, cover your 5-W’s in an interesting, somewhat entertaining manner. As a further tip to keep in mind: what makes you laugh, smile, emote, does not necessarily cause your recent “friend”, the interviewer, to laugh, smile, or emote. Regardless, your goal when using story-telling during your interviews is not to make your interviewer react emotionally. It is to explain something that you accomplished in a manner that makes it all hang together in a logical way so the interviewer can “see it” with his or her mind’s eye, and thereby taste it as if being present in that moment of time.

If the interview “sees” it and “feels” it, he or she will remember you all the better. And if your achievement was in the objective much better than your job application competitors, then guess who rises to the top of the pile to make it to the short-short list and possibly to win the job?

The 5-W’s becomes the basis for good story telling.


We can elevate the 5-W’s by refining that a wee bit more. What captivates readers of best-sellers, both fictional best-sellers and non-fiction, is the drama within. The best story tellers out there have learned to master elements that delve into the 5-W’s in a bit deeper manner.

Best selling writers have learned to build their stories on the following tools of the trade:

Setting, Character, Conflict (sets the plot), Resolution, and a quick Ending. In our case, when applying these tools to story-telling during interviews, we’ll substitute a “quick Ending” by “Benefits”.

Now we get into more details about telling great stories during interviews.

As you talk, during your interview, the interviewer is looking for clues to how you will make a difference for his or her company. Your interviewer is working under the mandate of hiring the best-of-the-best candidate. In the mind of the interviewer is but ONE CRITICAL QUESTION: “Which candidate MADE the best, the most innovative, the most useful achievements and contributions which in turn made the candidate’s EMPLOYER more profitable?”

Let me reduce that question into simpler terms to make that easier to remember. The interviewer wants to know which candidate HABITUALLY CONTRIBUTED THE MOST to his or her employer. “Habitually” is an important word on which to focus your attention. If the candidate has a “habit” then it is likely that, that “habit” will carry over to the potential employer.

Your stories must establish a pattern of habitually contributing to the success or image of the companies you work for in the past. HISTORY WILL REPEAT ITSELF and that is exactly what the interviewer wants to learn, experience, “feel”. So, prove you have a habit of contributing.

This will seem much more complicated, but is not. It merely is a bit more granular, and, thereby, more customized to the job interview, than the previous techniques. This technique covers the critical elements that interviewers are looking for from a story.


Stage, Players, Problem, Probability, Proposal/Solution, Priority, Payment, and  Outcome.

I will further explain the details of each of these elements in the next NUGGET, part 2–click here!