How can you make your interviews memorable? First, let me share a few names with you:
David and Goliath
You can have compelling answers to interview questions if you can apply why these names have been remembered. Each of these names that has been well known for thousands of years.
Why? Because their stories have been passed down in a very specific way. Let me give you some more detail. The subtleties will make a huge difference to whether your interview answers stick.
When I think about the biblical story of David and Goliath, I can visualize a teenager, barely old enough to shave, wearing a white toga, standing on an open field across from a 7-foot tall 300+ pound line-backer with a thick black beard, a gold helmet, and a massive sword. I think about the story of a boy who beat the odds.
Or Julius Caesar, I see him in a blue toga, wearing a golden leafed crown, lying on the stone floor of the Roman Senate, surrounded by a toga-wearing mob of men with knives. I think about the story of a powerful leader who was betrayed by those he trusted.
Or Spartacus, I visualize him wearing leather armor, holding a small wooden shield and a short bronze sword, standing in the middle of a sand-floored arena with a crowd watching and cheering, facing off against a slightly better armored, larger gladiator who is holding a fishing net and a three-pointed trident spear. I also think about a man who hated his job and ended up as the leader of a slave revolt.
These names and many others are remembered because the events of their lives (true or not) are retold in the form of stories with vivid details. Storytelling is a huge part of the human experience. Legends, fables, and myths were the ways that ancient peoples passed on critical life lessons and historically game changing moments through generations. Today, movies, TV shows, and books are all stories that capture our modern imagination or at least entertain.
So back to making your job interview answers memorable. The interview is your opportunity to be a storyteller and to capture the imagination of your interviewer. If your answers integrate short stories, visual details, and tangible accomplishments, you are more likely to be remembered, to be touted outside of the interview room in conversation, and to be hired.
In an interview, you may be tempted to give answers that describe your accomplishments as a laundry list of experiences. Now, lists are useful as a way to demonstrate you’ve done a lot of things. But they aren’t very effective at making you memorable.
As one non-interview example, there are more than a few times I’ve gone to the store and forgotten to return home with one or more items from my list. In fact, some memory experts actually suggest making lists brain-stickier by combining the items together into a story.
When you are asked a question in the interview room, think about whether you can answer with a short story. Share those that definitively prove you have the skills and motivations to do the job.
You don’t need a story as a response for every question, and you don’t want your stories to be too long (2 minutes or less is good.) But if you can share three stories, you are more likely to be remembered by the stories you do share. A good story needs a beginning middle and end. The listener needs to understand the background situation and visualize what it’s like to be there.
The details are important. These can include the people involved, the location, the type of project, the difficulties you encountered, the actions that you to resolve those difficulties, the results of these actions. Or to help you remember this better, think of Caesar (as the people) surrounded by guys in togas with knives (the difficulties encountered), Caesar’s murder (the actions taken), and the rise of Augustus (as a result).
Remember, to make your answers memorable create a simple story with vivid visuals that prove your value on the job.