Daily Tip: Tell a Good Story

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Over at Business Insider, there’s a solid piece of advice for anyone heading into a job interview: Prepare and rehearse your best stories beforehand.

Stories are powerful tools for selling yourself to an employer, because they illustrate how you’ve used your skills to improve a company’s culture or bottom line. They’re the best way to show off your problem-solving skills, and how well you interact with managers and customers. But they’re also not something you can deploy in a job interview without at least some forethought and practice.

As you rehearse, remember: A good story includes some vital elements. It must feature you undertaking some action, as opposed to observing others’ activities. It’s also important to delineate any obstacles or difficulties that could have prevented you from completing that action. Third, you must describe the positive results of your action, whether it was a better piece of software or a happier customer.

Last but not least, keep the story tight—rambling won’t score you any points with the interviewer.

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2 Responses to “Daily Tip: Tell a Good Story”

  1. I had to rewrite nearly a third of a program within 2 weeks… That program had been deployed at a client for and it was not working correctly.
    How can I present that frustrating experience like a great story?!
    I guess stories should be devided by categories, however it’s always more exciting to tell a story of one serious program one wrote from scratch than the stories of 20 fixed programs withn a day or two…

  2. A piece of advice I was given last month, make a list of categories such as working on teams, overcoming obstacles, conflict on teams, skills, strengths, weaknesses, and failures. Then make a list of the parts of a story such as Detailed Description, Resolution, Outcome For Me, Outcome For Others, and What I Learned/What I Would Do Different. The outcomes are any rewards, recognitions, or reprimands. I write my stories in Evernote and put tags on each story for the categories it falls under. I use bullet points for each part of the story. It has helped me a lot and when I am in a situation at work that would make a good story I create a note for it and fill in the details when I have time.