Stories are an age-old way of imparting information and education across the world. Storytelling is an important and effective tool in the interview process. Short, honest and appealing anecdotes can help in connecting and engaging a recruiter, making him decide in your favour
An interview is a conversation between two or more people with the primary objective of judging an applicant’s attitude and knowledge. It is a complex process where oral communication, persuasion, negotiation and storytelling work in tandem to help the recruiter judge a candidate. The job of the candidate is to persuade the recruiter in his/her favour.
Storytelling has a wider use in today’s world – whether it’s marketing a brand or marketing self to a recruiter, storytelling can do the magic for you. As an employability coach at UPES, my interactions with students, when they come out of the interview room, gives me a sneak peek of what works and what does not. Those who come out smiling have a story to tell and those with a frown are lost for words.
The emotional connections that stories make are engaging and lasting. Storytelling persuades listeners to be more attentive. Those who understand the power of stories do their best to expand their outlook and come out of their shells.
The power of storytelling is backed by science. Research shows that while listening to stories, our brain releases happiness hormones like Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin and Endorphins (DOSE). Dopamine enhances focus whereas Oxytocin induces trust and generates empathy. Serotonin supports memory and Endorphins help the listeners to relax and focus on creativity. Focus, empathy, trust, an imprinting memory and creativity are the major ingredients, which help an interviewee to persuade a recruiter. A story helps you do exactly that.
‘The Universe is made of stories, not of atoms’: Muriel Rukeyser, American poet and political activist
We all have trunks full of stories; we just have to reflect and collect them on paper. I suggest students sit with a pen and paper and express the experiences they had – both in and out of the classroom – during their college journey. Then index your stories to sort them and use as per the questions asked in the interviews. It may be an event you hosted or a contest you won or a paper, which got published. A project done right or even a failed experiment is a story to showcase your values, interests and abilities to the interviewer.
Stories that follow Aristotle’s principle of Ethos, Pathos and Logos are interesting and impactful:
- Ethos (Personal Credibility/Authenticity): Using personal experiences in your stories helps recruiters assess your communication skills, judgment abilities and problem-solving approach.
- Pathos (Appeal to emotions using personal stories): The anecdotes of personal triumphs and tribulations engage the listener. It helps to build trust, which is an underlining factor in decision making. Whether the recruiter can trust you with their work depends on your ability to build rapport and establish a connection. Storytelling can help in overcoming the bias of confirmation and selection.
- Logos (Using facts and evidence): As they say, “Show, don’t tell.” The use of facts and numbers in storytelling makes you sound credible. To demonstrate team-building skills, narrate an incident where you supported a project group to come together to brainstorm and deliver results.
Remember, short is better than long, simple is engaging than complex and less is always more. Use the ‘SHE’ model of answering any interview question with your story.
E-Engaging-(Pathos)-Serotonin and Endorphins
Though our experiences may be different, they act as a unifying thread. So, own your stories, tell them with openness, and create a feeling of wonder to evoke the interest of recruiters in you. I am sure using your stories to let the recruiter know your skills and strengths will help you win that interview.
(The writer is Manager in Career Services, UPES. She coaches students on employability skills.)