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The Power of Storytelling

In human resources, we are constantly looking for ways to improve our interview process in order to hire great talent. And by great talent we don’t just mean qualified candidates, but individuals who provide an addition to our culture that we’d either been looking for or didn’t even realize we were missing.

But maybe the reason we’re not succeeding is because we’re conducting interviews like stuffy questionnaires and expecting to understand the intricacies of a prospect’s personality and previous experiences. Perhaps the answer to our interviewing woes comes through approaching the process like a journalist, rather than a hiring manager or recruiter.

storytelling interview tips

When a journalist sits down with their subject, they are trying to find something that makes them stick out. They want to hear what makes their story unique and different from all the other people they’ve researched before. It’s the same way when we interview a candidate. We want to find something that makes them different, whether in their previous careers, education, or just life experience.

The next time you sit down for an interview, consider the power of storytelling. Use these tips to hear their story and consider whether or not they’d be a good fit for your company and the role in question.

There is no right or wrong answer.

Best-selling author, Cal Fussman, puts it this way: “It’s more like you’re casting a movie and you know the part you need to cast for, and you know the traits that person’s going to need to make that job work for you and for that person. And so, it really isn’t a matter of this person’s bad or this person’s good. If you treat it like a casting director in a movie, you would say that’s the perfect person for that role.” Remember that there are multiple ways a candidate can answer your questions, or at least if you’re asking the right questions, that’s how it should be…

Ask the right questions.

We all know the tried and true “What’s your biggest weakness?”. Candidates have most likely pored over different responses trying to find the perfect one. Instead of asking something that they’ll hear in their other 20 interviews, consider asking questions that cut more to the core of your company culture. For example, if you’re hiring for a sports agency, ask them about the best game they ever played or witnessed. This is a great opportunity to not only gauge their passion for the industry, but to get them to tell a story. You’ll learn so much about their personality not only by the content that they share, but the way they share it.

Think outside the box, or at least, the office.

You might think conducting an interview has to happen within the four walls of your office or conference room, but that just isn’t true. If you conduct a lot of meetings at the nearby coffee shop, why not try it in your interview? Of course, find a place that’s still conducive for conversation, but a cup of coffee will definitely put you and your candidate at ease compared to the glare of fluorescent lights. In this way, they’ll feel more comfortable opening up when it’s time to share their story.

How do you get candidates to share their story? What are some questions you would ask?

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