We remember 90% of what we say and do if we take the time to reflect on what we’ve done. In a competitive job market, the best way to stand out is if you are able to tell a compelling story about your experiences during University, relating it directly to the skills you will need for the job on offer.
How can I tell my story in a compelling way?
When you are telling your story to an employer, you need to be able to share with them the journey of development that you have been on. All stories have a beginning, a middle and an end. A typical pattern is to explain the situation that you found yourself in, what you did and what the outcomes were. It’s also great if you can explain what you learned about yourself through that experience.
The helpful acronym that is often used to help you remember how to tell a story in an interview situation is called STAR.
Situation – what was happening?
Task – what did you have to achieve?
Action – what steps did you personally take and why?
Results – what was the end result?
Where can I record my examples?
• Log in to Careers Hub
• Go to Profiles > MyPortfolio
• Click on MyExperiences
• Fill in the form and hit 'Save'
• Click on MySkills
• Link the skills you’ve developed to the experience you’ve had in the 'How did the Experience contribute to your Skill?' box, using the STAR method.
When to share your story?
Often a good story involves overcoming a challenge. If an interviewer asks you a question about a time when you solved a problem, or overcame a challenge at work, or when you worked well as a team – think about the acronyms above.
One tricky question that interviewers sometimes ask is “What is your greatest weakness?” or “Tell us about a time when something has gone wrong for you at work?” This question is useful because it lets the employer know how self-aware you are, but it also offers you the opportunity to tell a great story.
In an interview you are asked “What is your greatest weakness?”
A great way to answer this question is to pick something that you used to find really hard, but identified as a weakness, worked on really hard and ultimately overcame.
You can think of a few examples, but settle on public speaking, something that many people find difficult. How do you tell your story?
Using the STAR technique above, I would say.
“I have always been quite a shy person and for a long time I found public speaking really difficult. When I realised that there were going to be lots of opportunities for me to speak in public as a team manager, I decided that I wanted to tackle it. - SITUATION
“I joined a scheme that allowed me to give assemblies in secondary schools on a weekly basis. I had to spend a lot of time researching and preparing my topic and then thinking how to make it relevant to 250 14 – 16 year olds." - TASK
They were a really tough audience, and my first few assemblies did not go down too well, but I arranged for each one to be recorded, made notes and listened back to myself. I started to notice what things were working for the audience, picking relevant, topical and challenging subjects and using humour and timing more carefully. I had committed to do two terms of assemblies and as I got into the second term I realised that I was actually enjoying myself.” - ACTION
“I started to get positive feedback, from the teachers initially and then from the young people themselves. They told me that they looked forward to my assemblies. I have grown in confidence from someone who was really shy about public speaking to someone who enjoys it and looks forward to the opportunity to speak to a crowd. I still get nervous before I have to speak to a crowd but this experience taught me how to tailor a speech to an audience, use timing and humour to engage them and leave them remembering the points that I wanted to make.” - RESULTS