Career Corner: Story banking and preparing for the interview process

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Emilio Lorenzo is a career adviser in NSU’s Office of Career Development. His column, a biweekly feature of The Current, will provide insights, tricks and tips to help you reach your career goals, market yourself effectively and stay proactive in the job market. 

The job interview process can be extremely nerve wracking, especially when you’re trying to make a strong impression and show the employer your value. A question that always comes up as students enter the interview process is, “How do I make myself stand out amongst a pool of applicants?”

The answer lies in the ability to quantify skills and experiences through storytelling during the interview. For example, if an employer asked me about my strengths and I simply reply, “I’m a great communicator,” my response does not carry the same weight as a detailed anecdote that quantifies the skill for the interviewer.

Imagine if I were asked that same question but, instead, I responded, “I’m a great communicator. For example, when working as an orientation leader at NSU, I was responsible for providing information to more than 100 students and parents regarding the university and its services during orientation events. I would make sure to frame the conversation in terms of the individuals’ needs as parents were more concerned with safety and academics while students were more focused on extracurricular activities and the social life aspects of the institution.”

When tackling situational questions, it’s important to not only include detailed stories but to organize your thoughts by utilizing the STAR format. STAR is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, Result — the vital components to include in your response. STAR format is a great tool to use when answering questions such as “Tell me about a time you dealt with a conflict” or “Describe a time when you went above and beyond your normal duties and responsibilities.”

Another good strategy to use as you are preparing for the interview is to go through a list of questions that may come up in the interview and reflect upon past stories to include when responding. This strategy is called story banking, as it can be used almost like a utility belt as you decide which anecdote suits the situational questions. Story banking has many benefits; the process of reflecting upon past situations, academic and professional, will also help you effectively articulate the experiences to the interviewer and showcase your value.

By taking time to reflect on your experiences, you’ll be prepared and confident to tell stories about yourself to employers, meaning you’ll be more likely to be hired. And what a great story acing your interview will be.

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