The Art of Story Telling

And why you need to use it during your interview

Posted – 2024/01/24 

Navigating interviews can be a nerve-wracking experience. Beyond showcasing your skills to potential employers, you must also capture and retain their attention while establishing empathy and trust within a limited timeframe. The key to mastering this intricate dance lies in the art of storytelling.

Where does storytelling come in? you ask. It is all in the science!

Our society is inherently shaped by storytelling, a fundamental part of the human experience. When we encounter a compelling narrative that resonates with us, our brains release oxytocin—the hormone associated with fostering trust, compassion, and empathy, (Meyer-Lindenberg et al). This hormonal response is pivotal in maintaining positive interpersonal behaviour. Thus, stories possess a unique ability to forge connections and bridge understanding.

Research suggests that stories have the remarkable power to transport us into the storyteller’s world, triggering emotional responses and reshaping our perceptions (Mayer, F.W.). In essence, when you articulate a well-crafted story during an interview, the interviewer’s brain reacts as if they are personally experiencing the narrative. This not only cultivates emotion but also establishes a sense of togetherness—a genuine connection.

Marketers have long recognised and harnessed the persuasive influence of storytelling to shape behaviour. Similarly, during an interview, you are essentially marketing or ‘selling’ yourself. By understanding and applying the profound effects of storytelling, you can gain a competitive advantage.

The benefits of Storytelling during your interview...

Using storytelling in your interview strategy offers dual advantages that can significantly impact the outcome of your interaction with the interviewer. Firstly, it fosters a genuine connection between you and the interviewer. Secondly, it enhances the likelihood that your key messages will be remembered, allowing you to influence what resonates with the interviewer.

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How to use storytelling in the interview

When preparing for your interview, employ a straightforward structure for crafting your stories. Consider adopting the Situation-Complication-Resolution (SCR) framework:

  • Situation: Paint a vivid picture of the scenario. Use this opportunity to captivate your interviewers’ attention.
  • Complication: Delve into the challenge you faced. What was the issue, and why was it significant? Articulate how this challenge impacted you or your team.
  • Resolution: Outline the steps you took to address the matter, focusing on your individual contributions. Also, describe the effect of your activities. What happened when it was over? What did you achieve or discover?

Remember me!

Making a Lasting Impression:

When incorporating storytelling into your interview, aim not only to showcase your skills but also to be memorable. Active listening from your interviewer is crucial, and you can prompt engagement by introducing effective attention-getters. According to Erickson and Ward (2015) in “The Master Communicator’s Handbook,” you can achieve this by delivering a startling fact, posing key questions with an implicit promise to answer, or telling a personal story that establishes a strong connection and enhances your credibility.

 A prime example is from the Ted Talk held by Kelly McGonigal in 2013. “I have a confession to make… I am a health psychologist, and my mission is to help people be healthier and happier. But I fear that something I have been teaching for the last ten years is doing more harm than good, and it has to do with stress…” (Erickson and Ward, 2015) 

Preparation is key

Not everyone is a natural storyteller, so thorough preparation is essential. Research the company, anticipate likely questions based on the job description, and consider additional interview tips discussed in resources like Dressing for Success and Nailing Your Interview – MC Technology Staffing on MC Technology Staffing’s blog.

Seize Your Opportunity:

Approach the interview as a chance to change your life by landing the right job. Practice delivering your stories to leave a lasting impression on your interviewers and secure your dream position.

For unique opportunities at MC Technology Staffing, explore our Vacancies – MC Technology Staffing or submit your CV to be matched with future opportunities  Submit CV – MC Technology Staffing 

You can read more on the fascinating science of storytelling in our References:

Calabrese, S., 2023. “The Neural Secrets of Narration”, ENTHYMEMA, (31), pp. 319–337. Available at: https://riviste.unimi.it/index.php/enthymema/article/view/18654 (Retrieved: 19 January 2024).

Erickson, T. and Ward, T., 2015. “Transformational storytelling. The master communicator’s handbook”. Changemakers Books, Alresford, UK.

Lin-Stephens, S., Manuguerra, M. & Bulbert, M.W., 2022. “Seeing is relieving: effects of serious storytelling with images on interview performance anxiety.”  Multimed Tools Appl 81, 23399–23420 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11042-022-12205-7

Mayer, F.W. 2014. “The Call of Stories”, pp 79–98. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199324460.003.0005 (Retrieved: 19 January 2024)

Meyer-Lindenberg, Andreas, et al., 2011. “Oxytocin and vasopressin in the human brain: social neuropeptides for translational medicine.” Nature Reviews Neuroscience, vol. 12, n. 9, 2011, pp. 524-38