Ace Your Interview by Scripting the Perfect Stories

Simple tips for how to rehearse yourself into a winning interview.

Ever walk out of an interview and know you blew it because you fumbled how you answered a question? Interview nerves can strike the best of us, but there is a simple way to feel and look confident in interviews or any kind of presentation.

Write out your story like a script, and then rehearse it until it’s natural to say.

I’m not talking about making stuff up, or putting people to sleep with drawn-out irrelevant tales. I’m talking about really taking some time to craft the story about what you want a potential employer to know about you. The story of what you’ve done, and what you’re good at, and why all of that makes you a great fit for their job.

How you tell your story makes all the difference in the world. People hire people they can relate to and have a good feeling about. The more personally connected they feel to you through how you describe yourself and what you’ve done, the better.

A little planning and practice of your personal tale ahead of time will let you share all the best of who you are and what you’ve done with confidence, and you can make sure to plan the answers to their unasked questions at the same time.

Here’s how to prepare to be a good interview story teller:

Make a list of the requirements for the job.

Use the job posting or job description, and make a list of the top must-haves from the employer’s perspective. Let’s imagine a hypothetical job as an Administrative Manager for a doctor’s office, where their ad says they’re looking for 1) five years of experience as an office manager, 2) medical office experience, 3) the ability to manage other people, 4) a flexible schedule so you can work late when needed, and 5) knowing how to do insurance claim filings.

Then make a list of the soft skills needed or preferences.

Soft skills are things like communication skills, habits, personality and how you relate to others. For this hypothetical case, let’s say the job posting included the words “great sense of humor,” “fast-paced office” and “small team” so you would add 1) sense of humor and 2) able to work at a fast pace and 3) being a team player, in your list of soft skills to talk about.

Now write a story about your experience that touches on all of if the requirements.

Think of specific examples in your own experience that illustrate how you fit the job’s requirements, and craft them into a brief story that tells your tale. Write it down so you can edit and polish it to be just what you want to say. Emphasize what is important to them, and make it personal to you.

When asked, “Tell me about yourself,” the candidate for our hypothetical job might say, “I’ve been managing offices for about eight years, and I have worked with lawyers and in advertising, but my favorite job was when I got to learn all about how a medical office works in my years with Dr. Johnson. I was in charge of administration there, and I got to manage a great team of people. Once our computer system crashed and we needed to work through the night to sort out what happened with a stack of missing insurance paperwork, and everyone pitched in. I loved that job because we had such a good time together, always laughing and enjoying our jobs even when it was so busy we were moving at light speed!”

See how that story gives a great answer to many different questions you know the employer wants to know… and more? Every one of the requirements for the job has been addressed in the telling of that story, and it also paints a very positive picture of someone who gets along with other people, works hard, and loves doing exactly what the job entails. Talk about looking like the perfect candidate!

Practice, practice, practice!

Once you know what you want to say, practice it so it comes easily to you, and sounds conversational and relaxed. Type it up, print it out, and then read it out loud over and over again. Practice it in a mirror, making eye contact with yourself, and giving yourself a big smile. After a few times, you won’t need to look at the script, since you’ll know what you want to be saying. Once you really know the story, it will flow when you tell it.

Repeat the process for specific questions you expect them to ask.

You can be pretty certain you’ll be asked why you left different jobs, what your strengths and weaknesses are, and maybe about that long gap on your resume that you’d rather not talk about. Script your response to these questions in advance too, by thinking back for specific stories that you can draw on and make part of your interview answer repertoire.  Be genuine, and don’t be boastful, but don’t be overly modest either. Don’t pass up the chance to tell the stories that will show your strengths.

Once you get the hang of scripting and practicing an answer, you’ll start to see more stories you can add to your repertoire. Script up the story about that time when your whole office worked 24 hours to meet an impossible deadline (which, depending on the question, might be used to talk about your leadership or your customer service unstoppability), or talk about the time when your biggest customer was ready to walk, and you managed to fix the problem and saved the sale (which might be used to show your crisis management skills or your rapport with top-level clients, depending on the situation).

The goal is that you have a ready supply of quality stories that really support your qualifications and experience, and that you can tell them easily to answer questions in your interview. Your experience is filled with good stories, so plan them, script them, and practice telling them.

I guarantee that if you can tell engaging stories, you’ll feel more confident and won’t be walking out of interviews smacking your forehead thinking of what you wish you would have said.

Taken from