​​​White Willow Staffing

The Power of Storytelling in Interviews

Nearly every interview today has a set of behavioral interview questions to find out more detailed information about the candidate. These types of questions are designed to get you talking more freely, and more importantly, they allow YOU to control how you are presenting yourself to your interviewer. Often these questions start with something similar to the following:

  • Can you tell me about a time....
  • What happened when....
  • Can you give me an example of....

When you hear an interviewer start a question like this, it is an invite to tell them your story. They are expecting an answer that will last a couple of minutes and they are looking for details. To many interviewees, this is a scary proposition. To prepare for these questions, the easiest thing to do is to have a couple of these stories ready to work for you.

What constitutes a good story?

If you think back to elementary school, you'll remember there are certain things that are required for a story. Let's look at these in their basic elements:

  • ​Characters - Who is involved in this story?
  • ​Setting - Where does it take place? 
  • ​Plot - What is happening?
  • ​Conflict - What's the problem?
  • Resolution - How was the issue resolved? 

Answering these questions can be easier for both the candidate to relate, but also for the interviewer to digest if they are broken down. The easiest way to do this​ is to break down your answer into 3 parts. 

  1. ​Set the table. Who is in your story, where does it take place, and what is the goal
  2. Describe the problem in some, but not all detail.
  3. Thoroughly describe the solution, and what part you had in it. Bonus if you can tie some sort of tangible result or dollar amount to it.

This approach allows the interviewer to see multiple sides to you as a candidate and is helpful in appealing to both their sense of who you are, but also what you are capable of. Storytelling has a way of engaging both the logical and the emotional side of the interviewer, giving you the advantage of controlling the story. 

Having problems thinking about how to approach these for your upcoming interview? Give us a call and we can help walk you through how to approach common interviewing questions.