In many ways, a job interview is less about how well you’re capable of handling the responsibilities of a particular position and more about you as a person. Remember, an employer doesn’t just need to know that you can do a job – they also want to confirm that you’re someone who they are willing to work with day after day, year after year for the foreseeable future. As a result, some parts of interviews will be relatively straightforward – the interviewer will ask a question, you will give a short answer. Easy. Other parts, however, will require you to elaborate on certain points and tell personal stories about yourself and work experiences that you’ve had in the past. If you’re able to have these stories ready ahead of time and can allow them to both tell the interview about ‘You the Person’ and ‘You the Employee,’ you can effectively kill two birds with one stone and avoid falling into any potential traps as well.

Other Types of Stories and Anecdotes

When preparing stories for an interview, you’ll also want to prepare different examples that will show how you’re varied as a person and an employee. In addition to a story or two about how you were presented with a problem and were able to successfully overcome it, try preparing a story that involves you making a mistake. Just make sure that it’s also a story where you were able to learn from that mistake to become a more well-rounded, harder working individual.

Stories that end with you exhibiting team leadership and acting as a valued member of a larger group of people are also very important.

Problem Solving Stories

One of the most important types of stories that you can prepare for yourself ahead of a big interview is one where you solve a significant problem. An interviewer wants to confirm that when faced with a challenge, you aren’t someone who gave up or who got frustrated. You’re someone who kept your head down, got to work and overcame any obstacle in your path.

Think back to your employment history about times when you were faced with adversity. Maybe you had a particularly tricky relationship with a client, or there was one task that needed a creative or resourceful solution. If you can prepare a story that shows you’re willing to work hard to overcome challenges, you put yourself in an excellent position to stand out from other applicants.

Knowing What to Say and What Not To

Think about the personal stories you’ll be asked to tell in an interview like telling a joke. There’s the ‘setup’ portion of a joke and the ‘punch line.’ To really give the punch line maximum impact, you need to make sure all of the relevant details were told to the listener in the setup – if they weren’t, you won’t get that laugh you’re after.

These stores are no different, but the key word here is ‘relevant.’ You don’t need to fill your personal stories with details about what you were wearing, what year they took place in or others – doing so only makes the story longer and detracts from the payoff. If any tidbit of information that you’re putting into these doesn’t underline the importance of the payoff, it doesn’t need to be there. End of story.