“How do I give myself an edge in a job interview?”


Author: Larry Medina (Head of Career Services, Alumni & Corporate Relations) at ESSEC Asia-Pacific

This week, I will discuss one more important preparation tip before I get into specific types of interview questions. Last week, I delved into the importance of preparation. There is one more type of preparation that can give you an edge over candidates: storytelling. It is essential to prepare five to six interesting, relevant stories before the interview to shine.

Importance of storytelling

Why is preparing stories important? If you have prepared stories, you will be able to use them to answer various questions that you may be asked. 

They can be handy for specific questions — “tell me about your biggest challenge” — or open-ended questions — “Is there anything else you would like to share?”  

Like my tip on resumes, answers that are interesting, specific, and can be quantified are much more memorable.

Structure your story

For behavioral-based interviews, the recommendation is to structure answers based on the STAR method: Situation, Task, Action, and Result (with the addition of lessons or learnings.) 

This structure can be used for most interview stories to help you structure your story. 

Obviously, the structure is important, but the real key is deciding on the impression you want to leave and telling stories that support it.

Impression of your story

After you have decided on the impression that you want to leave, you should prepare five to six stories focused on key events from your work, school, or extra-curricular activities. 

If you prepare six stories, I recommend four of the stories be related to full-time work or internships (if you have work experience).  

You should not memorize your story as it can sound stiff. By practicing multiple times in front of the mirror, you can make it natural and ensure that you leave the right impression.

Diversify your stories

Work-related stories will be most relevant, but extra-curricular stories can give you flavor and make you memorable.  

For example, once a student told an exciting and relevant story about skydiving during a mock interview. He was trying to leave an impression related to his risk tolerance which was quite relevant for the types of roles he wanted. Most importantly, he made himself memorable in a good way. 

Likewise, work-related stories should be relevant and as interesting as possible. Specifics, details, and flow can ensure that the interviewer listens and remembers.  


To recap, storytelling can be a powerful tool in an interview. Preparation of your stories can give you an advantage over other candidates.  

The power of this approach is that you will have identified the impressions you want to make and key events in your work and non-work life to answer any questions. Preparing interesting stories will give you confidence when answering questions and, ultimately, stand out as a memorable candidate.

  Larry Medina is the Head of Career Services, Alumni & Corporate Relations at ESSEC Asia-Pacific Business School. For more career tips, follow #careertipswithlarry.  Read previous tips from this series.

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