Using storytelling in your interview

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Part of our range of guidance and support for fundraisers who are currently unemployed or in need of redundancy support.

When we go for an interview there’s one thing we want most of all: to stand out from all the other candidates and to be truly memorable. Arguably the best way to achieve this goal is by telling stories. And fundraisers are the best storytellers.

Stories have the power to create engagement on a deeper level, as science suggests: when listening to a story, our brain patterns start to mirror those of the speaker, drawing us closer to their emotions and experiences. Telling a story can therefore help build rapport between you and the interviewer, while they’re also more likely to remember your story over any dry facts taken from your CV.

Luckily there are plenty of opportunities to tell stories during an interview; for example, you could tell a story in response to the introductory ‘tell me about yourself’ question. Instead of falling in the trap of oversharing or simply reciting what’s in your CV, you can make your answer truly memorable by telling a carefully picked story that encapsulates who you are and your journey so far.

So how would you go about this?

Well, first of all, when picking a story to tell, it’s important that you know what the interviewer wants to find out. Most importantly, they’ll be wanting to know whether you are a good fit for the role. Do you possess the right skills, experience and mindset; are you displaying the right level of enthusiasm and passion for the job? They might also be thinking about cultural fit: do your personal values align with those of the company? which personality traits make you a valuable team member?

Think about these questions and consult the job description and company website to find out what their ideal candidate would look like. Then think of what story you can tell to prove that you are this candidate.

Say, for example, you’re applying for a job at a charity. And while you may not have a background in the sector, you discovered your passion for it at after you managed a fundraiser for your local animal shelter. Telling the story of how you rallied your local community in aid of this shelter and how you still volunteer there today will offer proof of your determination, dedication, organisational and leadership skills, to name but a few.

For your story to truly have an impact it’s important you get the structure right. A story typically has a clear beginning, middle and end. The beginning is where you set the scene, identifying a place, time and the general circumstances you found yourself in. The middle is where the main action unfolds and usually this is where you describe the challenge you faced and how you went about tackling it. A resolution is given in the ending.

As with any good story, make sure it’s to-the-point, keep your tone upbeat and end on a high note. It never hurts to have a few more stories up your sleeve either for the questions that are still to come!

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