How to perform well in a job interview: A storytelling approach to answering questions will help

Peter Botting
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Talk as if you were already part of the team (Source: Getty)

The most important thing is to remember that a successful interview is primarily about the employer and their issues and problems - not about your need to pay your rent or finance your lifestyle. They have a problem and you are a potential solution.

Otherwise they would not waste their time. The employer could need people for a variety of reasons but whatever their motivations - they are looking for someone to solve a problem, to do it quickly and to fit in fast.

Tailoring your answer to what the interviewer wants must be the best strategy. Keep thinking about how you can help solve their issues and move the company forward.

Talk as if you were already part of the team. Move the conversation from stories about what you have done in the past tense to talking about how you would contribute to the company in the future tense. Use “I” and the past tense to evidence your skills and experience and “we” to talk in the future tense about how you could be part of their team.

Answer questions concisely. This does not mean ridiculous yes or no answers - it means concise answers with relevant and unfluffy detail. Don’t waste time padding your answers with unnecessary and distracting nonsense - this will dilute your message and bore or annoy your interviewer. If they are interested (and IF you have presented the headlines well) they will ask for more detail.

When asked for more depth, use this opportunity to tell your stories with interesting (but relevant) facts and visuals.Be careful - be discreet and don’t go into massive detail either. Memorable, thought-through cameos - not drunken late night gushing. Show off your experience and skills in a storytelling way - do not simply rattle off every job title you have ever had.

This storytelling, headline-then-content method of answering interview questions helps you stay organised, arrange your thoughts logically and even lead the interview to aspects of your experience that you wish to highlight. Lists of job titles, unevidenced claims and badly structured stories are to be avoided at all costs.

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