Interviews: Leaving Space for Stories

Book open, displaying word storytelling

Congratulations, you’ve successfully submitted your application to a recent job posting and have been invited to interview! What can you do to prepare? Consider the power of stories when answering interview questions.

Stories are incredible powerful when employed correctly in an interview. Stories are memorable, they are specific, and they can tell us a lot about how you reacted during significant experiences. A great interview story will exemplify your strengths, show off your personality, and help establish rapport between you and the interview. Stories are a great way to illustrate your strengths versus simply stating them. Anyone can say that they are a great communicator. It leaves a greater impression when you can talk about how you used your communication skills in a specific experience.

One helpful structure to craft powerful interview stories is the STAR Method. This template helps you to develop stories that highlight relevant information:

Situation: Background information i.e. your role, organization, the problem/issue/conflict.

  • Come up with at least three situations to adapt throughout an interview.

Task: Clear description of what you were trying to achieve and why.

  • Think about which competencies or areas of expertise are likely to be most important for the job opportunity at hand and pick tasks that highlight those relevant experiences.

Action: The approach/thought process/plan you had to address the issue.

  • Show your thinking and approach and mention any relevant skills or methods used. Highlight obstacles you overcame, creative approaches, and contributions you made to the solution.

 Result: Describe the outcome; highlight the results and/or feedback gained.

  • Opportunity to discuss lessons learned and how you will apply them to your future work
  • Quantify when applicable (increased sales by 10%, saved the company $50,000, trained 400 employees in 30 days).
  • Accentuate the positive and the lessons you gained from an experience

Once you understand the concepts of the STAR method, practice it with a friend, mentor, or schedule a mock interview with us at the UVM Career Center. While we can never guarantee success in an interview, the stories we share might bring us one step closer to achieving our goals.


— Brian Park, Career Counselor

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