Anecdotes for the Interview

SHOW don't tell

Why should you be able to develop anecdotes for an interview?

The purpose of developing anecdotes (stories) for the interview is to be able to illustrate your skills and abilities to the prospective employer.

Stories SHOW the employer what you are capable of rather than simply TELL them what you have done in the past.
During the interview process, an interviewer may talk to 8-9 candidates for a single position. In order to rise above the crowd, you have to be able to answer each question in a way that the interviewer will relate to AND remember. Stories paint a picture and are more easily remembered.

You have to make a favorable impression

When you are able to communicate clearly with the interviewer and relate specific events which portray the fundamental nature of a particular skill or ability, you will be well ahead of your competitors.
Look at this situation:
The interviewer asks the same question of candidates #1, #2 and #3: "Have you ever been in a situation when you have had to soothe an employee who felt as though he’d been treated unjustly by a co-worker?"

  • Candidate #1 responds: "Well, I remember doing that once, but it was a nightmare."
  • Candidate #2 responds: "Yes, I listened considerately until he finished venting."
  • Candidate #3 responds: "Yes, I have been in that situation before. In fact, not long ago, a co-worker in an office next to mine was angry that her boss was asking her to stay late 3 days in a row. I asked her to come to my office for some coffee and we worked out a way for the two of us to share the work load so that we both could get home at a decent hour."

Who do you think will make the most lasting impression? The storyteller will be remembered because the story itself has value and makes a statement. It is something that most everyone can relate to.

When you are able to answer an interviewer's questions (not all of them, of course) with anecdotes that show the employer HOW you solved problems, saved the company money, motivated others, worked efficiently and so on, you will be the one to get the job offer.

Employers are looking for people who demonstrate results. They want to hire individuals who can make a positive impact on the bottom line. If you can show them how you are one of those individuals, then you will be a part of their team.

As you think about the anecdotes you want to use, please heed these words of caution: Do not offer negative comments about your previous/current employer. Identify yourself as someone with integrity, pride and determination and you will be successful. Be positive, energetic and confident.

Developing anecdotes is not hard but it will take a little time. When reflecting on the possible questions a prospective employer might ask, simply go a step further and ask yourself, "Can you think of a time when this happened?"

Doing so may make the difference between you getting a job offer – or one of your competitors getting that offer.

Remember – SHOW, don't TELL 

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