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Prepare your stories before the interview

Published on Saturday, 14 Feb 2015

Hiring managers want to hear your story. They know past behaviour predicts future performance, so they ask for specific examples of times when you navigated office politics or delivered measurable results.

The technique is called a behavioural job interview, and you know it is coming when you hear the prompt: "Tell me about a time when you ... " The next phrase can be almost anything: assumed a leadership role, saved your company money, disagreed with a boss, juggled multiple tasks or overcame an obstacle.

Interviewers do not ask these questions because they want to watch you squirm. They are trying to assess whether you have experienced situations, organisations, cultures or projects similar to the ones you would encounter with the new position.

Effective storytellers understand this, and they come prepared with a library of anecdotes that reinforce a strong personal brand. Building a library of compelling stories takes time. Waiting until after an interview is scheduled is like trying to lose 10 lbs in two days.

Employers are most concerned with what you learned, not all the details of what happened. So don't spend too much time describing the situation.

Usually about 15 per cent is sufficient to provide context and convey what led up to the event. Spend the bulk of your time — about 60 per cent — describing the actions you took to overcome the problem. Use the final 25 per cent of your time to focus on the consequences and quantifiable results of your action.

Preparing an effective story library is time-consuming, but remember - stellar CVs land interviews; stellar stories land jobs. The Washington Post

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