How to stand out in an interview by telling your unique stories.

Updated: Jun 9

No one is making decision only based on numbers. Especially to stand out in job interviews, you need a story.

In this blogpost, I'm going to share some tips and tricks to ace the interview by telling your unique stories.

Who doesn't hate this question:''Walk me through your CV''

''Walk me through your CV'', '' Tell me a little bit about yourself'' those type of opening questions during interview are probably the most hated questions by both interviewees and interviewers in job interview history.

Then why interviewers still ask this question every single time?

Because firstly, it gives the interviewer a better view of how the interviewee is as a person on top of what has presented in their CV and Cover Letter. Secondly, it shows the self-awareness and motivation of the interviewee. Last but not least, it demonstrates the interviewee's logic and communication skill.

What does the interviewer want to hear from the answer then? You may ask. I summarise them into the 4-P theory:

  1. Past- Your high level career and personal growth history and past experience.

  2. Purpose- Your purpose and why do you apply this company and this position.

  3. Personality- Your personality and your culture fit to the company and team.

  4. Prove- Your competencies, skillsets and achievements which prove you can do this job well.

Remember this is the first question of the interview, and the first impression you leave usually can hardly be changed and can often make or break it. So you really want to nail this question and help interviewer make up their mind already in the first 3mins.

Why do we fail at telling our stories?

As a hiring manager, I can't recall how many times I was bored by hearing '' My name is Mary and I graduated in 2016 from University of...''

The traditional way of listing our your bio since you were born doesn't work anymore. To be frank, no one cares about which year you graduated from the university and your scholarship was written in bold on your CV already.

Why are we so bad at telling our stories when answering this question? I think the number reason is the misinterpretation of the question ''Walk me through your CV'', which makes a lot of job seekers think that the interviewer just want them to elaborate what has already been written on the CV.

In addition, it's also ''easier'' just to bullet pointing your past and presenting it like an audio version of your CV.

Lastly, we often neglect what is the real intention behind the question itself. As explained in the last section (the 3-P), if you don't know what the interviewer is really asking, then you have already failed in the first place.

Why is it so essential to be a great story teller to get your dream job?

But again, do we really need to tell a story?

Yes, we do and we better do it very well. No one makes an important decision solo based on numbers, often time people make decision based on their intuition and a good story.

What composes a good story? A good story involves changes of the story teller, a good story evokes emotions of the listener, and a good story makes connections with your audience.

When you can tell your career and personal history that demonstrates your growth and changes, tell how the company and position resonate with your aspiration and value, tell those achievements and skillsets that prove that you are the best candidate to fulfil this position, you are half way through getting the job.

What is a winning story formula?

I don't believe a one size fits all wining story formula, however, I do wanna share a few distinguish techniques when writing your own story:

  • Be human- Don't sound robotic, this is the time to show a bit of vulnerability. Don't be afraid of mentioning even a little bump(failure) on your journey.

  • Be your authentic self- Bring out your personality, and add a little humor when appropriate.

  • Be relatable- Connect your experience, aspiration and value to the company, the position and even the interviewer.

  • Be structured- Use value based structure, STAR based structure, growth path based structure, or trilogy structure. Make it easy to follow and have a natural logic flow.

  • Be short and concise- Don't rumble without focus, keep it short and sweet, make it less than 3mins.

Practice, practice, practice

Now you have your story written, it's time to put into practice. This is one of the most underrated part of interview prep. I have seen so many candidates who have a great profile on paper, but when it comes to interview, they fail to show their dedication and effort.

Practice telling your story in front of a mirror or even better record yourself using your computer or tablet. Observe how your story is delivered. Not only your delivery should sound nature, not rehearsed, but also with confident body language, warm tone and voice, right rhythm and pause, as well as appropriate eye contact.

Last but not least, always remember to smile. 😊

Need a helping hand?

All those preparations sound daunting and exhausting, I know. And a lot of them would need someone to give you feedback and guidance. I'd love to hear your questions and topics you'd like to learn about job interviews, and leave your comments below!

If you want more specific guidance and help on your next interview. Feel free to schedule a free conversation with me, or sign up my interview coaching session so we can work together to get your next dream job!

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