Story Time: How to Ace an Interview

There’s no way around it…interviews can be tense. It’s not often you are asked to market your skills, experiences, and personality all at once. However, if you are looking to ace an interview, I’m going to tell you the same advice I tell everyone: “tell stories.” Interviews should not be a time where you just list a bunch of skills and qualifications you hold or a one-way conversation with you answering questions. An interview is an opportunity for you to tell stories about yourself and your background and to engage in a dialogue with your interviewers. Easier said than done, though, right? If this sounds like a daunting process, here is how you can achieve a more engaging interview.

  1. Come up with stories BEFORE the interview. Think about what kinds of questions this company or industry could be asking you, and do research to find out typical questions interviewers might ask. After you’ve come up with a list of possible questions, think of stories you can tell about these experiences.
  2. Write those stories down. Utilize the STAR Method of interviewing for each story. Think about the Situation you were in, the Tasks you needed to complete, the Actions you took to complete those tasks, and the final Results of the experience. Make sure you always tie these stories back to the question at hand and detail what you’ve learned.  You shouldn’t tell a story for the sake of telling a story.  Each should be meaningful and add something to your answer.
  3. Practice your stories. These stories shouldn’t be scripted but should have a flow so that you know what you are trying to get across to the person(s) interviewing you. After you’ve figured out what you want to say, practice in front of a mirror by yourself, or with friends and family, mentors, professors, advisors, peers, and even the Center for Career Development, which offers practice interviews tailored to what you need.
  4. Ace that interview! Just relax and tell those stories. Remember, these are YOUR stories so you know more than the interviewer about your past experiences and what skills they have given you.

If you’re still nervous about interviews, make sure and check out the UConn Center for Career Development’s interviewing page. You’ll find information about how to prepare and navigate interviews on this page, and there are even instructions on how to sign up for a practice interview.

Good luck interviewing!

By Ty McNamee
Ty McNamee Outreach and Programming Graduate Assistant Ty McNamee