Using Anecdotes in Interviews

Being Engaging at Interview

Interviews are always enlivened when you have a few good anecdotes up your sleeve.

We're not talking here about tall tales or even true ones that go on and on and put your audience to sleep.

Creating a Narrative

For us, the idea is that when you go for a job interview or a promotion, it makes sense to have thought about some of the things you've been involved in and create a narrative that gives your listener a word picture of what happened.

It's not enough to say,

"When I ran the XYZ project, we finished on time and under budget."

The facts may be true, but they're not very compelling are they?

Story Not Facts

They don't give the interviewer any sense of what actually happened, whether this was par for the course or something ordinary.

Our version might sound something like this,

"When I ran the XYZ project, I had 4 team members working flat out so we could bring the project in on time and under budget.

What happened was that our colleague in Japan was way out on his calculations which threatened the entire timetable.

I was able to re-jig everyone's schedules in such a way that we could all share in rectifying the mistake.

It felt hair-raising at the time, but we didn't want to disappoint the client."

Using Anecdotes

What does an anecdote give the listener?

What that does is give the listener some additional facts from which to ask more questions, but it also gives a much better sense of how you work, what happened and how you work under pressure.

Not only that, but it's also even permissible to mention a failure or two as long as when you tell it you include what you learned from what happened.

Avoid Bragging

However, avoid bragging too much or you'll come across as arrogant.

We've often been asked by school leavers what they should do because they've had no work experience.

The same thing is true: if you're a school leaver hopefully you will have a number of tales to tell of a team project at school or something to do with sport.

Something Personal About You

You may be a volunteer or do something for charity and should have loads of anecdotes which again demonstrate to the interviewer something personal about you and how you make things happen.

Anecdotes liven up interviews and make you human' to the interviewer.

Bring Your CV Alive

Anecdotes bring your CV/Resume to life.

We recommend that you think of a few anecdotes that highlight certain skills, talents and qualities, rather than hoping one will pop into your brain on the day.

In our experience, it is rarely all right on the night' if you leave things to chance.

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