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Tell Me About Yourself: What’s Your Story?

interview, human interest, career management, performing arts, kathy hansen, jobs seeker, job interview, career development, job search, interviews, recruitment, job, literature, company, storytelling, career, story, employment, tell, jobs “Tell Me About Yourself” This sure sounds like a friendly inquiry during an interview.  And often it’s asked with good intentions.  By someone who truly wants to get to know you.

Ahem. Some bad news.

It is also asked by lazy people, the poorly prepared and some who are curious to see where you’ll go with it.  Like watching a busy intersection for a fender bender.

You’ll get it from recruiters, HR folks, anyone kicking off a job interview or a new department head who’d like to get to know their staff.

Now the good news.

Open ended questions are awesome opportunities to take charge of an interview or meeting.  They allow you to initiate a more conversational interview.  Where real issues get discussed and you get a chance to show off what you know and to illustrate your specific value.

Here’s more good news.

There is an art to storytelling and a huge benefit to you when you can use a story to draw someone in to your life and your work accomplishments.

Some of you may know I spent a few days last week in Las Vegas sharing a presentation on “marketing for career experts” at the Career Management Alliance Conference.  But I ended up getting most of the value from the trip.  I met great new friends.  And picked up some new ideas on how to use storytelling in the job interview from Chandlee Bryan of StartWire, and in the resume from Karen Siwak of Resume Confidential.  And then on the way home (a fun 4.5 hour drive), I had a unique opportunity to chat it up with Kathy Hansen of Quintessential Careers – one of the single best resources for job search in the world.

Kathy has an awesome book (pictured above) on storytelling called “Tell Me about Yourself: Storytelling To Get Jobs And Propel Your Career”.  So I’ll tell you about Kathy’s book.

Then I’ll tell you how you can win one of three copies she gave me.

The book is written in three parts:

1.  The basics of career-propelling stories

2.  How to use storytelling in your job search

3.  How to use storytelling throughout your career

If you are someone who freezes or cringes when asked a big, open-ended question like “tell me about yourself”, this book will be like a warm bath on a cold winter’s night.  Kathy’s writing style is very comfortable.  As you might guess from a storyteller.

She opens her book with a story of a frustrated job seeker who learns the value of storytelling.  Here’s some of that story:

“… the discouraged young man read a book that suggested composing personal stories.  Doing so, the job seeker found, provided him with better interview preparation than any coaching he had ever experienced.  Using stories he hadn’t  remembered before he read the book, he said, made him more confident, convincing, and persuasive in his interviews.”

Now isn’t that how you want to feel during a job interview?  How about your first meeting with your company’s new CEO?

According to Kathy, here are the reasons stories are so powerful in a job search (I love these!):

  1. Stories establish your identity and reveal your personality
  2. Stories help you know yourself and build confidence
  3. Stories make you memorable
  4. Stories establish trust
  5. Stories help you stand out
  6. Stories illustrate what you have to offer
  7. Stories paint vivid pictures
  8. Stories provide explanations and reveal your response to change
  9. Stories demonstrate your communication skills

Kathy’s book also provides many great samples to help you turn your experiences into engaging stories.

So if you’d like a chance to win a copy of Kathy’s book, here’s how to enter to win:  leave a comment on this post.  How? Share a story that you like to tell or a success in using a story to find a job or propel your career.  You can also ask a question and I’ll see if I can get Kathy to answer a few.

If you don’t end up a winner, you can find Kathy’s storytelling for jobs and career book on Amazon.  And please read her storytelling blog called A Storied Career.  Lets of great resources there.

Ready?  Begin.

Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
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Categories: Job Interview Tips

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