The Template

Every week, I maintain THE TEMPLATE, an award-winningWinner of the 2015 Plank Center Award (public relations org.) for commitment to mentorship. blog that's been viewed more than 1.5 million times by people all over the world. In every column, I provide step-by-step instruction to help you become a stronger communicator. Like I always say, "Write well, open doors!"

Best Job Interview Strategy: Tell Stories

Ralph Baer scribbled on a note pad and changed entertainment forever.

What was on that piece of paper? CNN’s Doug Gross says Baer imagined a “game box” to let people “play board, action, sports and other games on most television sets.” With a $2,500 budget, Baer ultimately created the first video game console and launched what is now a billion-dollar industry.

This week Baer died at age 92. Raise your hand if you’ve never played a video game. Exactly. We owe the German immigrant a debt of thanks for his invention. But look deeper and we find a hidden lesson scrawled on Baer’s historic note pad: a few words on paper can transform our careers too.

The Best Way to Answer a Job Interview Question. Period.

The next time you have a job interview, walk into the room with a pen, paper and a list of three bullet points.

The three bullets are quick reminders of success stories and ways to let your personality shine. That’s because stories demonstrate in vivid detail why you are right for the job and turn a typical Q&A interview into a dynamic, memorable conversation.

Stories already work great on cover letters and reference letters. Now they will help you nail a job interview.

Example: you want a job as an client manager at a tech/IT company. Let’s up the stakes and say you’re 25, spent the first three years of your career at a nonprofit and don’t have experience in the private sector. Doesn’t matter. Your stories can still carry you.

Before the interview, jot down three great stories from your life that show you know how to lead and solve problems. It can look like the list below — except your handwriting is probably nicer than mine.

how to answer interview questions

Then, as the interview goes along, look to weave the three stories into your answers. Many interview questions focus on ability or past work experience so you will have opportunities. The key is to have storytelling as your go-to strategy from the start.


Well, hold on a second…

You might think, “What if there’s no natural way to tell a story? Won’t it sound awkward if I launch into one?”

Not so fast. You can answer a lot of common interview questions with a story:

– Why should we hire you?

“Well, let me give you a good example of my work performance…”

– How do you deal with stressful situations?

“Let me tell you about this one time…”

Is there a moment when you exercised leadership?

“Yes, there was this one week when half of my office got the flu and…”

And finally…

When the boss says “Do you have any questions for me?”

You go with the four questions every millennial should ask in a job interview. Again, they show you’re unlike every other person who asks typical fluff like “How much vacation time will I have?”

Instead, you drop a gem like “I see we can expect a huge growth in the Internet of Things in 2015. What does that mean for the company and the services you provide?”

Bam. You just crushed the interview.


You can be like everyone else. Or you can blow away the competition.

Rely on your stories, and watch what happens.


Have stories ever worked for you in a job interview?

Share below!



comments powered by Disqus