Selecting the Right Stories to Share in Interviews

In this blog series, our mbaMission Career Coaches offer invaluable advice and industry-related news to help you actively manage your career. Topics include building your network, learning from mistakes and setbacks, perfecting your written communication, and mastering even the toughest interviews. To schedule a free half-hour consultation with one of our mbaMission Career Coaches, click here.

We at mbaMission have written a lot about interviewing—how to tell your story in a structured way, what questions to expect in a typical behavioral-based interview, what questions to ask at the end of an interview, and how to avoid common interviewing pitfalls—and you can find those posts if you search for “career news” in our blog. 

But today, we share our advice for tackling a different approach to excelling in an interview: identifying and selecting the right stories to tell. 

Identify Ten Stories: Resources to Leverage

  • Review your brainstorming materials and final business school essays. 
  • Examine and think about the situation behind each bullet on your resume. 
  • Brainstorm with previous colleagues and managers, and read past performance reviews.
  • Think about your biggest accomplishments and your proudest moments. 
  • Find stories about both work and extracurricular activities, but focus the majority (roughly 75%) of your stories on professional experiences. 

Choose Your Best Stories: Questions to Ask Yourself

  • Can this story be pivoted to speak to more than one competency? You need least two stories for each competency or attribute required for your target role. Tell stories that demonstrate you have the attributes your target company wants in its employees. 
  • Does the story require a lot of technical/industry-specific knowledge or substantial context? Find ways to help the interviewer understand the situation without using jargon.
  • Did this situation happen recently? Ideally, you should share stories that happened within the last two to three years, as you are more likely to have significant responsibility and to remember the specific details in order to tell the story in an authentic and engaging manner. 
  • What was your role in the example? You need to tell what you did—not what the team did—to achieve the goal. You need to show your ability to think critically, identify insights, influence others, and improve outcomes. 
  • Does the story demonstrate your ability to navigate unexpected situations? Often, interview questions are not straightforward (e.g., “Tell me your biggest accomplishment.”) but seek to uncover how you behaved in a challenging circumstance. 
  • Was the outcome important or impressive? Use numbers to show the scope or level of complexity of your work as well as the result of your actions. 

Bottom Line: If the answer to the above questions is “yes,” then you have likely picked an interesting and relatable story in which your actions allowed you to overcome substantial challenges and achieve significant results.  

Stay tuned for our next post about how to address common interviewing mistakes. In the meantime, connect with mbaMission for a complimentary consult call with one of our MBA Career Coaches or read our interview preparation blog posts, including the following: “Strategically Answering Behavioral Interview Questions,” “Avoiding Interviewing Pitfalls,” and “Ending the Interview Strong.” 

Have you been admitted to business school? If so, do you want to get a head start on defining your career goals? Do you need help preparing for job interviews or learning how to effectively network with your target employers? Or maybe you want to be a top performer in your current role but are unsure how to maximize your potential. Let an mbaMission Career Coach help via a free 30-minute consultation

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