When Networking and Interviewing,
Tell COMPELLING Stories
In the interview, telling the PAR story (Problem – Action – Result) or STAR story (Situation – Task – Action – Result) or SOAR story (Situation – Obstacle – Action – Result) – whichever format you choose – is essential for you to give evidence you are the right match for the job. And it's the same when networking.
But there are ways of telling a success story that excites and impresses the listener rather than leaving them flat. Don’t waste the opportunity to showcase your success: grip the listener!
So create some images as you tell your success stories. A story isn’t just a sequence of events, recited to get it over with. Instead, it is images, it’s atmosphere, it’s emotion you can relate to, it’s just enough background to set it up -- AND it gets to the point.
All of that means that your story is putting the listener IN THE ROOM with you as if they were there when the story happened. And that’s what is memorable the listener.
Look at these two ways of telling the same story, about how you manage your team during tough moments. And how the stories differ:
The question: "Tell us about a time when two valued team members didn’t get along until you interceded."
“Well, someone on the team had an issue with someone else on the team…I talked with them both and they talked with one another about adjusting their styles, and it was better after that.”
“Puts the employer in the room with you” version
"Josh was new to the team and just starting his career, and Margie was 22 years in the division. Each of them was (and is) a major contributor of ideas but Margie took an instant dislike to Josh, and Josh found Margie tough to talk with in any productive way. I knew I’d lose one or the other of them or both, if something didn’t change.
"So I spoke with each of them individually so I could hear their unvarnished opinions. It came down to a difference in style which caused them to irritate one another.
"Then I had them in together. I stressed that each of them had gifts and talents that the team and company needed. That the success of the projects would depend on their being able to work together. And I asked for ideas from each of them – on the spot – about how they could work well together. And I gave my expectation that things would improve.
"At first there was this silence. I wasn’t sure they would even answer. But then they began to talk, and it ended in a more positive way. While I don’t think they’ll ever be 'pals', they now get along productively – a problem I enjoyed solving."
The first version is vague, too brief, too rushed, there’s no emotion we can relate to, and we get no pictures. While the second is longer, it engages the listener AND clearly demonstrates the storyteller’s successes in this common conflict situation.
Which version makes the better, more memorable impression? The compelling one, which pulls in the listener.
Engage the listener with your stories and you’ll make your point that YOU are a fit for their role.