It’s hard enough just getting a job interview--when you do get one, you definitely want to make it count. Of course you’ll be punctual, appropriately clad, armed with extra resumes, and brimming with enthusiasm.
But if you really want to stand out, you will do this: Learn to tell a good story.
Humans are hard-wired to love stories. You know, the kind with a beginning, middle, and end. Your interview will have more impact and be more memorable if you talk about yourself and your qualifications in story format.
For example: “At my last job we missed a lot of deadlines. I figured out the problem was inventory, so I found a new supplier who delivered on time. We went from meeting only 20 percent of our deadlines to meeting 90 percent.”
You’ll need to hone your stories in advance and practice them. Try to make them no more than three sentences long—one for the problem, one for the solution, and one for the happy ending. You can use stories to answer all sorts of questions. Say the interviewer asks why you want to leave your current company. You could reply, “I’m seeking to advance my career” and leave it at that. But if you tell a compelling story about why you want to advance, what brought you to the point you’re at now, your answer will be tons more compelling.
Hint: When you can, use numbers. People love numbers almost as much as they love stories.
Karen Burns, Working Girl, is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use, to be released by Running Press in April 2009 (but available now for pre order at Amazon!). She blogs at karenburnsworkinggirl.com .