Interview Storytelling Ideas

Interview Storytelling Ideas

You are preparing for your job search or an interview and you have read about telling great interview stories, but how do you write and prepare your interview stories?  If you have read Telling Great Interview Stories, then you are ready for more detailed interview storytelling ideas.

Good Interview Stories Technique

A good interview storytelling technique is the 3C model.  Be sure to include the 3C’s in each story.  Start by describing the Circumstance and then explain your Conduct and that actions that you took.  Wrap up your story with a strong conclusion explaining the results of your actions.  Quantify the results as much as possible.  Create at least 15 interview stories to have available at any time.  Now that you have the basic guidelines, you are ready to begin brainstorming interview storytelling ideas.

Interview Storytelling Ideas

The goal is to create 15 stories that you can use during job interviews.  The following list of interview storytelling ideas is divided into three categories to help you organize your thoughts. Choose 4-5 concepts from each category and write an interview story for each one.  Be creative this list is only to help you get started.  There are an endless number of topics that you might develop into an interview story.


  • When you solved a problem
  • When you made a mistake
  • When you improved a process
  • When you overcame challenge
  • When you learned from a mistake
  • A story about working independently without direction

Worked As A Team

  • When you collaborated as part of a teamTeamwork
  • A story about when you helped a co-worker
  • A story about when you solved a complicated problem
  • A time when you volunteered
  • When you demonstrated Leadership
  • A time you learned something about yourself

Dealt With Conflict

  • When you dealt with conflict with a co-worker
  • When you had a disagreement with a client
  • A story about working with a difficult person
  • A story about working through sudden change
  • A story about compromise
  • How you demonstrated creativity to solve a problem

Prepare For Your Interview

After writing your 15 stories from the interview storytelling ideas above, you will be better prepared than most job candidates, but don’t stop there.  Review and rehears your interview stories daily during your job search campaign.  Rehearse each story by reading it aloud so that you are comfortable telling each story.  Begin by reading each story from what you have written.  Since the stories come from your experience, you will learn each one very quickly.  Another learning technique for remembering your job interview stories is to record yourself telling each story and listen to the recording.  To further stamp each story into your memory, listen to the recording in your own voice while you are reading the story aloud.  If you do this exercise 6 times for each story, you will quickly memorize each story and the points you want to make during your interview.


Telling Interview Stories

Telling Great Interview Stories

Telling interview stories is one of the best ways to answer interview questions and stand out as a memorable job candidate.  Telling stories make us seem more human.  When people can relate to you, they will also come to trust you.  You have probably heard that for someone to do business with you they need to know you, like you and trust you.  Telling good interview stories is an excellent way to accomplish all three and build a relationship with the interviewer and hiring manager.

Don’t rely on your intuition and ability to think quickly during the interview when you may be nervous. Prepare to win the interview by writing your stories in advance and rehearse in advance.

Good Interview Stories Are Focused

Telling interview stories is a winning tactic and the best interview stories are focused and can be used to answer a variety of interview questions.  Career consultants, R.L. Stevens & Associates, called interview stories, “3C Stories” Advising candidates to frame these stories with Circumstance, Conduct and Conclusion.

Write stories that describe a circumstance to set the stage and provide context.  Focus the story on your conduct.  What did you think and feel?  What actions did you take?

The conclusion of your 3’C Story should speak to the results.  Were you successful or not?  Did you achieve our objectives and what were the results of your actions?  Not all 3C stories need to end happily.  If you made a mistake or failed, explain how you learned from the situation and what you would do when faced with a comparable situation in the future.

Stories that demonstrate how you deal with demanding situations build trust and show that you are human and make mistakes like the rest of us.

Creating Interview Stories

Prepare for your job search and interviews by creating at least fifteen 3C Stories.  This type of preparation is challenging work but will increase your confidence in your experience and your interview skills.  Each interview story should be two minutes or less.

Write your 15 interview stories as quickly as possible.  You can refine them later, but draft your stories in the initial stages of your job search.  If you are currently employed, consider writing these stories before you begin your job search.

Rehearsing Your Interview Stories

Writing fifteen job interview stories is valuable, but the value is multiplied when you rehearse these stories regularly.  Rehearse your interview stories by reading them out loud and timing yourself.  Each story should take 2 minutes or less for you to tell.  Follow the 3C method and make your point concisely to capture and hold the attention of your interviewer.Interview Stories

Stand Out With Interview Stories

The more interview stories you write the better prepared you will be to answer interview questions in a way that will make you a memorable candidate and develop a relationship with the interviewer.  Follow the 3C method and complete 15 good stories as soon as possible.  Don’t spend time making the story perfect because you want eno
ugh flexibility to use each story in response to a variety of questions.  Polish your stories by rehearsing and make sure that they are a maximum of 2 minutes in length.

Here is another article you might enjoy about interview stories:

The Interview Technique You Should Be Using

Manage Your Network

Manage Your Network

How Do You Manage Your Network?

Most people do not have an organized approach to stay connected, but networking is the single most important part of any job search strategy.  A strategic job search campaign requires you to make the most of your networking list.  Statistics say that 85% of jobs are found through networking, so doesn’t it make sense that you would need to manage your network as efficiently as possible.

Build A Network Management Tool

As you begin your job search campaign don’t stop with creating a list of contacts.  You can build a simple networking tool that will keep you organized and even tell you when you need to follow up.

One simple tool you can use is a spreadsheet.  Google Sheets can help you organize all your netwoManage Your Networkrking information in a spreadsheet that you can access from any electronic device with an internet connection.

Divide your list in to three tiers and label them one through three.  At the top of your list, create a tier with the label “new”.  This new tear will not only help you manage your network list of contacts that you already have, but it will help you organize the new contacts that you will make during your job search campaign.

Consider the “New” Tier and Tier 1 contacts your hot prospects.

Tier 1 contacts are those you know well, are willing and able to help you by leveraging their expansive network.  You will consistently reach out to these connections during your job search to network, ask for advice and brainstorm.  Your Tier 1 contacts are your personal board of directors for your job search.

Tier 2 contacts are those connections that may only be acquaintances.  Perhaps they are centers of influence in a professional organization, non-profit.  They may be past clients or work for competitors.  These are the people that you know, but may not know well.

Tier 3 contacts are family and friends outside of the business arena.  This tier could be made of old college friends, former colleagues with whom you have lost contact or former professors.

How To Manage Your Network

This tiered networking system can also become your networking action plan during your job search.  Assign time frames for contacting each tier during your job search by adding columns in your spreadsheet.  Add one column to record your most recent contact date.  Add another column to be a trigger for your next contact date.  Each day, filter the sheet for the current date and you have an instant networking call list for that day.  Expand the list by creating a filter for all call back dates within the next 7 days and you have a weekly networking contact list.

Add additional columns in your spreadsheet for basic contact information including email, phone, and mailing address.

Start Networking For A New Job

You can create a custom tool to manage your network during your job search for free using an Excel or Google Docs
spreadsheet.  YourStart Networking For A Job network management tool should be flexible.  Contacts in the “New” tier will move to Tier 1 or Tier 2 as you determine how they might fit into your search.  Your networking list is a flexible tool that you own and can change at any time.


What tools and techniques would you recommend using to manage your network during your job search?  I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

Build A Networking List

Build A Networking List

The Need For Networking

The numbers are clear:  85% of jobs are now found through networking.  Not only do I believe the statistics, but I am proof.  As I thought about the reality of that number, my memory went to the start of my career.  Even before the life I call my “career”, networking goes back to jobs I had in high school and college.  I found my first job after college through a temporary agency, but that is the exception.  Every other job I’ve had after school, during summers, full time employment, advancement opportunities have come through networking.  After starting my own consulting business, my clients have been gained through networking in some fashion.

When you know the facts, you must consider networking your number one career strategy and use your network to find a job.

Create A Tiered Networking List

Begin by creating a networking list for your job search.  Type the list using Word, Excel or Google Docs and Sheets.  Create three tiers for your contacts.  Tier One is for those contacts that are the biggest centers of influence, those whom you know well and consider to be well known or well connected.  This is your list of “Hot Contacts” and will be the connections your contact first.  Tier Three on your networking list are those contacts that you may not know well or maintain regular contact.

Brainstorm Your List Of Contacts

Let your mind wander through your friends, acquaintances and colleagues.  Include vendors and competitors.  Capture the names of alumni, class mates, teachers, coaches and mentors.  Set a time limit and list as many names as you can in 20 minutes.  Don’t be distracted if you think you’ve listed the name twice.  Do not spend time classifying the names any further and don’t slow yourself down by spelling the names correctly, this list is only for you.  Your goal is not a perfect list, but a list that you can use.

Think of your networking list as a living document that will grow and change during your job search.  Contacts that you have listed as Tier 1 contacts will move to Tier 3 and you will meet new contacts that you will list among your Tier 1 network. After you have a tiered list, make a simple plan to organize your list.

Develop A Follow Up System

Your networking strategy is so critical that you need to stay organized and develop a follow-up plan.  This plan does not need to be elaborate.  Create a system that works for you.  Build a spreadsheet listing each contact name in order by tier.  List their contact information in separate columns including email, phone and mail.  Finally include two columns for dates.  In one column, record the date of your last conversation.  In the other column, record the date when you will follow up with the client.  This method creates a simple daily networking list and you will never waste time wondering whom you should next contact.

Start Networking To Find A Job

Put the statistics to work for you and make networking the biggest part of your job search strategy.  An organized networking list and follow-up plan are essential tools in your job search tool box which show that you are serious about your job search campaign.  Best of luck as you start networking to find a job.

Researching Your Target List Of Companies

Researching Your Target List Of Companies

Where To Begin Researching Your Target List Of Companies

If you have created a target list of companies for your job search, the next step is to begin researching your target list of companies.   The goal is to build a knowledge base about the companies on your list.  If your target list includes several companies in the same industry, you’ll also build your knowledge of the industry.

Be Efficient When You Research Your Target List Of Companies.

Each day counts during your job search.  Don’t waste time at this point doing detailed research.  You’ll do in depth research during your later interview preparation.  Look for information about corporate culture,
industry news and trends, potential networking contacts and opportunities.

Begin Researching Your Target List Of Companies

View the company website to learn about products, employees, and locations.  Read through press releases for information about what is important to the company.  You’ll find opportunities, quotes from
the leadership team and even challenges they face.  Take notes on each company and list the names of those quoted in press releases.  Research each individual later prior to your interview.

Researching Publicly Traded Companies On Your Target List

While on the corporate website, look for the annual report if the company is publicly traded.  Again, don’t get lost in the details at this point.  Read through the letter to the shareholders and forward looking statements.  Download the report and save it to our computer so that you can come back to it later during your pre-interview preparation.

If you have never looked for or read a corporate annual report before, they are a great source of corporate information in addition to specific financial details about the company.  Look for a link on the company website that says “Investor Information”, “Investor Relations”.  The 10-K filing is required annually by the Securities and Exchange Commission.  The Annual report contains the 10-K filing and more conversational letters to shareholders.

Researching Privately Held Companies

You’ll need to look further when researching your target list of companies that are privately held or don’t offer details on their website.

Do a Google search for the company and look for articles in business journals and newspapers which provide valuable information about the company, their competitors and the industry.  Bookmark, save or print these articles for your reference.

Look For Opportunities In Your Target List Of Companies

As you research your target list of companies be aware of potential growth opportunities and challenges. Look for ways that you can overcome the challenges and capitalize on the opportunities.

If a company is working through a recent merger or acquisition or if they have announced an upcoming acquisition, what opportunities exist that fit your skills?

Meeting opportunities and overcoming challenges either make or save money.  DemonstratiResearching Your Target Listng you can do these things for a company, might lead them to create a job for you that doesn’t exist today.  These opportunities are called Spot Opportunities and are a valuable part of your job search strategy.

Consider starting your own business and approaching each company as a consultant or contractor if you can solve their problems.  You can often get meetings with corporate decision makers with this approach which may lead to a new business for you or a job offer.

Benefits Of Researching Your Target List Of Companies

Creating and researching your target list of companies gives you tools to focus your job search, identify networking opportunities and learn about the business and related industry.  These benefits will lead you closer to finding your dream job.

Create A Target List Of Companies

Do I Need To Create A Target List Of Companies?

Do I Need To Create A Target List Of Companies? | How To Create A Target List Of Companies For Your Job Search

The greater your focus, the more likely your success in finding your dream job rather than settling for the first job offer you receive.  When you create a target list of companies, you will become more focused and increase the efficiency of your job search by eliminating the time you would otherwise spend applying to random job postings.  In this article, I’ve included tips on how to create your list of target employers and how to use your list to find opportunities.

How to create a target list of employers

Where do you want to work?  Create a small list in 30 minutes or less.  You can go back and expand your list later.  The key is to build a list of target companies to begin your job search.  Here are some ideas to help you build your list:

  • Competitors or industry peers of current or past employees
  • Vendors of current/past employers
  • Related industries
  • “Best Places To Work” lists – utilize local, regional and national lists
  • What companies offer products/services that fit with your interests and passions?
  • Professional organizations
  • Related Industries

How To Use Your  Target List Of Companies

Eighty-five percent of jobs are found through networking. Use your target list as a networking plCreate a target list of companiesan. Start by doing some research to find networking contacts at each company on your list.  LinkedIn is a great source for this kind of research because you will find current first level contacts and how you are connected to second and third level contacts.  In addition to LinkedIn research, ask for introductions or recommendations and follow each company on Facebook.  You’ll find several contacts in your network.

Search Job Postings

The next thing you’ll want to do is search the existing job postings on the website of each company on your target list of employers.  Do the same on LinkedIn and you can usually find the contact information of the person that created the posting.  This is a great opportunity to network with the owner of the posting.  The contact is often someone from the HR department and can be a helpful resource.  Introduce yourself and ask for an informational interview about the company and any posted positions as well as future positions that might be available.  This is where you can uncover job opportunities before they are posted to the public.  Be sure to leverage your networking list before applying for any job.

Use Your Target List Of Companies To Guide Your Research

Building a target list of companies provides many useful tools for your job search tool box.  Take the time to answer a few questions about each company.  Create a spreadsheet or a report format for each one that you can review later for interview preparation.  When you are researching the companies on your list, start with these basics:

  • What products and services does the company offer?
  • Where are they located and which markets do they serve?
  • Who are the biggest competitors? (Are these competitors on your target list?)
  • How long has the company been in business?
  • What are the biggest opportunities and challenges the company currently faces?
  • Read the press releases for each company over the last 12-24 months?
  • Is the company growing?

If you are still asking the question “Do I need target list of companies?” the answer should be clear.  Click here for more information about creating your target list of employers.  Here is a great article about researching the companies on your target list.

What Is The Best Job For Me?

What Is The Best Job For Me? |Questions To Help You Define Your Dream Job.

What is the best job for me? If you are asking this question, you are not alone.  Few people know exactly how to match their skills and talents to a career.

I recently wrote the first three steps in starting your job search are

  1. Setup your work space
  2. Define Your Dream Job
  3. Create a list of your preferred employers

After your work space is in order the next step is to define your dream job.  Without clarify, you are more likely to settle for something that sounds good at the moment, but will be disappointing in the long term.

What is the best job for me?

Take some time to answer the following questions to add clarity to your job search

Which type of opportunities energize you?

  1. What industries interest you?
  2. Retail or Wholesale: Would you prefer to work with consumers or does a business to business environment appeal to you?
  3. In what size of company do you see yourself working?
  4. Working as team or working independently?
  5. Do you want to travel and if so, what percentage of time do you want to spend away from home?
  6. Are you extroverted and interested in sales?
  7. If you are an introvert, would you prefer working along?
  8. Do you like sales and computers? E-Commerce might be a possibility?
  9. If you like technology, do you want to write code?

Terms and Hours

What type of flexibility is important to you?  Have you considered full time, part time or flex time options?

Do you want a permanent position or are you open to long term assignments or short term contracts?

Do you need flexibility in your schedule or would you like regular office hours?

Are you open to working nights and weekends or is a day job Monday through Friday more your style?


Where do live now?  Do you want to live and work in an urban or rural setting?  Defining Your Dream Job

Driving distance – how far are you willing to commute each day?

Relocation – Are you open to relocating and if so, will you move regionally, across the country or even to another part of the world?

Work from home jobs are quite common today. Do you prefer to work with others or can you work remotely from home and work independently?

Location independence:  Do you want a job that allows you to live anywhere in the world while earning money to pay for your lifestyle?


Which of the following are important?

Would you like an hourly wage or an annual salary?

If you are interested in sales, do you like the opportunity of a pure commission compensation structure or would you like the security of an annual salary plus the earning potential of bonuses and commissions?

Is overtime acceptable?

Are you able to work second or third shift? Some occupations pay more for shift differentials if you are able to work these hours.

How does a retirement plan or 401K with an employer contribution sound?  Would you accept a job without a 401k match?

What type benefits are important to you? Which are your “must haves?”

Will you have student loans and are there potential employers that will reimburse your educational expenses?

 Corporate Culture:

What type of an environment is exciting?  Are you looking for a company that promotes creative ideas and entrepreneurship?  Would you like to work in a more traditional setting?

What is the best job for me?  Take the time to answer these questions with as much detail as possible and you will develop a focus that will lead you to your ideal job…Your dream job awaits.

How To Start Your Job Search

How To Start Your Job Search

Do you find yourself asking how to start your job search? Is the idea itself overwhelming?  Here are some basic tips to help you get moving.

Three Steps to start your job search:

One of my favorite sayings is “Action kills fear.” Action is a cure for many situations including confusion and the feeling of being overwhelmed.  Your first actions in starting your job search don’t have to be big. Take small steps at first to build your momentum.  Here are three steps to help you start your job search:

  1. Setup your work space
  2. Define Your Dream Job
  3. Create a list of your preferred employers

Complete these steps as quickly as possible, but don’t get stuck in this phase.   In this post, I’ll discuss step one in starting your job search:  Setup Your Workspace.

How To Start Your Job Search: Step 1:  Setup Your Work Space

Set up your work space and start building your job search tool box by designating and gathering a few supplies.  Here are six things to consider when setting up your work space for your job search.

  1. You need a work space – Designate a place in your home, preferably where you can keep your handwritten notes, brainstorms and resume drafts. Avoid moving your laptop each morning and shuffling through your notes. Find a place that allows you to immediately sit down and start working.  There is no time to waste.  Even if your space is a small table in the corner of your bedroom, you will work more efficiently with a defined work space.
  2. Phone and head set – Use a headset whenever possible. It is important have hands-free conversations to take good notes. Avoid using a speaker phone which can make you sound distant. If you do not have a traditional land line, there are many affordable VOIP (voice over internet protocol) services available. I use Magic Jack which for about $35.00 per year.
  3. Computer – You’ll want a computer to search the internet and perform basic word processing tasks help you prepare for your job search as well as creating resumes and cover letters. If you don’t have word processing software available, beHow To Start Your Job Search sure to check out Google Docs which even has a resume template and it is free.
  4. Purchase supplies right away and organize them neatly in your work space. Find some nice resume paper, matching envelopes and stamps. Most of your correspondence might be electronic, but you will also find that mailing hard copies is
    very effective when searching for your dream job.
  5. Always send hand written thank you notes after an interview       or networking meeting. Purchase some affordable professional stationary and “Thank You” cards.  If your budget is tight, substitute your resume paper for stationary.  Personal stationary is also a great touch. You can create your own letterhead affordably online at outlets like Vista Print.
  6. Since networking is a vital part of your job search campaign, consider having business cards created. Keep the colors and graphics simple.  List your contact information on the front along with your name and perhaps an attention catching phrase.  Include a bullet point list of your top skills on the back of the card.

Action kills fear in many circumstances and is especially true as you ask yourself how to start your job search.  Step one is setting up your work space and gathering these basic tools.

Overcoming Job Search Pressure

Job Search Pressure

Job search pressure can come from a variety of sources and is often overwhelming.  The pressure may be greater if you are unemployed, but there is also pressure related to your job search if you are currently employed and looking for another job.

Financial And Familial Job Search Pressure

The two most common sources of job search pressure are financial, familial, especially if you are currently unemployed.  Let’s face it, pressure in these two areas can be overwhelming, but there are some simple keys to overcoming the pressure so that you can focus on finding your dream job

Overcoming Job Search Pressure

Job search pressure can be overcome with planning, hard work and communication.  The mo
st intense pressure you during your job search is financial pressure.  The pressure is multiplied if you are unemployed or under-employed.

Create A Financial Plan

If you are currently unemployed, start by creating a financial plan.  Complete an honest assessment of your financial obligations and your financial reserves.  Get a clear understanding of your fixed living expenses and cut unnecessary expenses. Eliminating non-essentials from your monthly spending will help to alleviate some of the pressure.

Compare your fixed monthly expenses to the amount you have in savings so that you know your time frame for finding a job.  If your fixed expenses are $3,000 per month and you have $15,000, your reserves will last for 5 months without additional income.Job Search Pressure

It is important that you do this exercise and know exactly the time frame in which you need to find work.  My wish for everyone is that you will find your dream job. Consider part-time or contract work to meet your financial obligations if needed so that you can continue your search.  Knowing where you stand financially will better prepare you to make decisions related to your career search.

Dealing With Familial Pressure

Financial pressures often lead to familial pressures if you are married or have dependents.  Honest and open communication with your spouse and children is the best way to deal with this type of pressure.  Work through your finances with your spouse so that you both have the same expectations.

Children don’t need to know the details of your finances.  You can explain to your kids that you can’t afford a vacation this year because you aren’t working.  It is likely your kids will experience this same type of job search pressure someday.  You can set an example for handling the stress.

Action Kills Fear

Nothing helps to overcome stress and fear like action.  Plan your work and work your plan with urgency.  Who wants to see their spouse waking up at 10:00. a.m. and watching t.v. through most of the afternoon if they are searching for a job.  Share your job search strategy with your spouse and communicate your activities and progress regularly.

Every minute counts. If you are unemployed, your daily routine should be scheduled with a sense of urgency.  Without at least 12-18 months of reserves, you should plan to work on your job search for 40-60 hours per week.  It is healthy to take some time off and you might allow yourself one day per week for a break over the weekend.

Job search pressure can be overwhelming but  you can weather the storm and the job search pressures you will face by working urgently, communicating and creating a financial plan.



Interview Follow-Up

Interview Follow-Up

Job Interview-Follow Up

Interview follow-up can even make the difference in whether you receive an offer vs. a competitor.

I recently wrote a post about overcoming negativity in your job search by thinking about facts instead believing the myths that erode your confidence.  There are some common myths about job search follow up that you must remove from your thinking as well:

  • I really screwed up the interview, so there is no need to follow up.
  • My interview went well so there is no hurry to send a thank you note.
  • Thank you notes are old fashioned
  • I don’t want to seem rude or desperate by calling again

Job seekers often think of follow-up as the last step of the interview process when instead, it is a vital part that can turn even a bad interview into a second interview and even an offer.

Interview Follow-Up Potential

Bad interviews can happen to everyone.  Maybe you or the interviewer had a bad day.  If your interview went badly, you can turn things around with a great follow-up campaign which extends your opportunity to continue selling yourself.  Let the interviewer know that you want the job and are persistent.

If your interview went extremely well, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security.  You never know what the next interview was like and you may be competing against an excellent candidate.  Beat them to the punch by immediately sending an email with a promise that your written thank you note is on its way.

Immediate Interview Follow-Up

An email immediately following your interview is a valuable part of your interview follow-up strategy, but don’t stop there.  You must also send a written thank you letter and the sooner the better.  Pack a Job Interview follow-up thank youblank envelope, stationery and stamp in your briefcase and find a quiet place to sit after your interview.  Make notes on what stood out and of any problems you can solve and mention them in your note.  Be sure to put the note in the mail before you get home.

Effective job interview follow-up strategies incl
ude three follow-up steps within a week of your interview.  Professional, courteous follow is never rude nor does it sound desperate.  This is your opportunity to tell them you want the job and continue selling yourself.

Creating and executing a planned job interview follow up plan can turn the tides after a bad interview, separate you from your competitors and demonstrate that you can add value by solving problems and addressing issues.

Here are a few more job interview do’s and don’ts from Forbes if you would like more information.