christmas eve

Tell a Story to Land the Job 0

Job Interview landed by telling success story  Employers hire to solve their problems. They advertise job postings and list a series of requirements they expect candidates to possess. Companies reduce the pile of applicants to those who exhibit the closest fit to their posted job description. Those that remain are interviewed to see how they would fit in.

So how do you stand out and be remembered?  The answer is, you tell a story.

For example, most positions have some interaction with customers, or clients, or guests. The question then is “how do you handle customers?”

You could say “I’m a people person!” Now my dog is a people person, but I wouldn’t hire him for a customer service position. But what if I told a story that showed; a problem a customer had, what I did to solve the problem, and how it turned out? Would you remember me? Let’s see.

I was the store manager for Best Products in a small rural town south of Richmond, Virginia. I was at home about 8:30 PM on Christmas Eve. The phone rings and it is a customer who had been in the store that afternoon to purchase a battery operated ride on car for his seven-year old son for Christmas. He is calling because as he is putting it together, he sees that the battery is missing from the package.

Now he’s almost frantic asking me what am I going to do about it? Well, first, I don’t know how he got my number and I’m thinking it might be a setup, but it is Christmas Eve. So what I did was tell him I would meet him at the store and we would find the battery. Then I called my assistant manager, just in case it was a setup.

I arrived at the store and we met the customer. We opened another box and got the battery he needed. Several days later, he came into the store and thanked me for ‘saving his son’s Christmas.”

Now if you had just interviewed two candidates and one told you he was a “people person” and the other told the Christmas Eve story, which one would you remember? When your Boss asked who you will pick for the job, which candidate would you be able to justify hiring, the people person or the Christmas Eve manager?

Remember, stand out by telling stories and land the job of your dreams.

3 Ways Job Seekers Tell Stories During An Interview 3

What kind of story are you telling?

The more I speak with job seekers, the more I am certain that those who are getting hired tell a better story. They have taken the time to think about their past experiences and have practiced telling specific stories about specific actions they have taken.  They can tell an employer what the problem was, what action they took to solve the problem and how it came out.

During an interview for any position that involves interaction with customers, you will most likely be asked something like “tell me about a time when you had a problem customer; what was the problem, what did you do to resolve the problem and how did it turn out”?

Here are three ways people answer:

1. Having interviewed several thousand applications, almost two-thirds  will gloss over their answer. It’s as if they are taking a few experiences and mashing them together, then talking in general terms about it. There is a generic “someone was upset, I called a manager, I think it was ok”. Even getting that out of many applicants is a struggle. Sadly, many applicant stand out because they can’t tell a simple story of how they helped someone.

2. Without a magic potion that will make the applicant’s nose grow with each “untruth” they tell, an interviewer can never be 100% certain if the applicant is telling the truth. Yet some applicants feel the need to embellish their story in order to make themselves look better on paper or sound better in an interview. Most experienced hiring managers will understand what is going on. Just be yourself, sincere, honest and enthusiastic. Making up stories is never the right answer.

3. Having taken the time to think about your job experiences before the interview and the ways you have helped customers, you pick the experience that most closely fits the job you are applying for and you simply relate the story like you would tell it to a family member.

“It was Christmas Eve, I was the store manager for Best Products in Hopewell, VA. My phone rang about 8:30 PM and it was a customer who had bought a large ride on car for his 4-year-old son for Christmas. He was putting it together and found the battery was missing. He was very upset that his son’s Christmas was going to be ruined.

I told him to meet me at the store and I would get him the battery. I called my assistant manager to meet me there, just in case it was a setup (it wasn’t) and I went to the store. We found the battery the man needed and his son’s Christmas was saved.”

While you may not have solved a customer problem on Christmas Eve, I am certain you have gone out of your way to take care of a customer issue. Maybe you dropped off a set of plans on your way home, you called someone and got a needed repair done quicker or  you beat a deadline for a customer and made him or her look good as a result.

Take a few minutes right now and go back through your customer service experiences. Then you will be ready for your next interview, standing out for the right reasons. You will set yourself ahead of two-thirds of the applicants just by this one idea.

And if you feel like sharing, I know we would all benefit from hearing your personal “Christmas Eve” story.