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How to Incorporate your Personal Story in a Professional Interview

Being able to “tell your story” in a compelling and engaging way can help your career more than you realize. There are many benefits to learning how to share your “career story” and this guest post provides a great introduction to getting you started.

This is a guest post by Melanie Foster.



As humans, we are naturally drawn to storytelling. Stories convey an emotional energy that amplifies the meaning of dry facts and engages a listener on a personal level.

Making such a connection during a job interview can make you more memorable to employers, but where do you begin?

How do you apply storytelling to an interview?

Step 1: Establish your Personal Values and Goals

Before you can craft your story, you will need to establish your personal values and goals as a professional. After you make a list of these values, supply an anecdote of how you exemplified the quality during your lifetime. The most effective stories will be those that take place in a work environment. Just like any short story, you will want to present a problem and build the tension by presenting the complications that you struggled against in order to provide a solution to the problem.

Take as much time as you need to write the story. Then, practice telling it. You will find that the more energy you put into the anecdote, the more confident you will become in this quality or skill. Much like building muscle, this type of positive self-reflection will strengthen your confidence as your positive self-awareness increases. Each time you remember an event or action that helped you grow, your mind re-engages in those emotions and stimuli that led you to success. Even those who are not working toward a job interview would do well to continually track anecdotes that support life goals and values to increase self-awareness and confidence.

Step 2: Match your Qualities with those of your Potential Employer

While the first step of personal storytelling is introspective and deeply personal, the second step of the process is to transform your story into self-promotion. Companies generally list a series of qualities they desire in a candidate. Again, list these qualities on a sheet of paper or blank word processing document, but instead of creating new stories, consider how your existing values and stories can support the traits listed in the job description.

The point of this exercise is to establish a natural connection between Point A) your existing qualities, and Point B) the desired qualities. While making these connections, you may find that it is necessary to highlight certain details of the processes that made you successful. Add such details to your anecdotes and familiarize yourself once again with these stories. Make sure your stories are succinct and engaging.

Step 3: Tell me about Yourself

This is the most open-ended question that will be placed on the interview table, so it’s important to have an engaging and appropriate response. Take what you already know about the company – the values, the goals, the demands of the position – and use the information as a guide to what information you want to share with the employer.

Many people make the mistake of considering this question an invitation to share personal information. The appropriate time to share personal information is in response to the question, “What do you do in your free time?”

When forming your response, begin with your most recent work history or your greatest accomplishment to provide a specific example of your qualities; then move into your more general work history or education. Practice your response as you would an opening statement for a speech. Truly, this is the moment where your powers as a communicator will shine.

Melanie Foster is passionate about helping recent college graduates transition successfully into the workplace. You can find more of Melanie’s work at OnlinePhDPrograms.com. In her free time, Melanie enjoys hiking and reading contemporary fiction. To reach Melanie, you can leave a comment.

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