Want The Job? Learn To Tell Great Stories, Starting With Your Interview

Companies need stories to build their brands. Individuals need them, too. And your job interview is the place to begin the tale.

A theme has emerged as we've stalked how the tech elite hire: that, perhaps liberatingly, they give less of a damn about what school you went to or what brain teasers you can solve than the work you have done, how you did it, and what work you can do for them.

What they want, essentially, are your stories.

This makes sense: Big companies know storytelling is the secret weapon to "branding." Why? Because people don't fall in love with data dumps and PowerPoint slides—they are moved by emotions, or so scholars say. In the same way the organizations need stories to build their brands, we individuals need them too.

So we'd do well to prepare.

Writing for U.S. News, Rebecca Thorman helps us to do that: Rather than filing through our career histories for 50 answers to 50 possible interview questions—which would make sense of an interview as a standardized test like you had back in school—we should have a few anecdotes in our pocket that we can rely on, which will impress in the weirdly date-like setting of the job interview.

To match that matchmaking, Thorman says, rifle through your resume and cover letter to find three times where you felt unstoppable—anecdotes that "illustrate your relevant skills, experience, and lessons learned."

To know what that might look like, she supplies an example for us to chew on:

Q: Give an example of a goal you reached and tell me how you achieved it.

A: We set monthly goals for new user acquisition, and at the beginning of each month, I systematically built and executed strategic plans to reach those goals. For instance, part of my plan included advertising online, and I tested different types of advertising each week to find the lowest cost option. This resulted in my company exceeding our goals for three months straight.

Good story, right? The implicit suggestion, then, is to vigilantly look for responsibilities at our current gigs that could turn into these can-do tales—that we can be rigorous about evolving our careers.

Hat tip: U.S. News & World Report

[Image: Flickr user Martin Fisch]