Developing Anecdotes for the Job Interview

Carla Vaughan

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Anectodes? For a job interview?

The purpose of developing anecdotes for the interview is to be able to illustrate your skills and abilities to the prospective employer. Stories SHOW the employer what you are capable of rather than simply tell them what you have done in the past.

During the interview process, an interviewer may talk to 5-10 candidates for a single position. In order to stand out from the crowd, you have to be able to answer each question in a way that the interviewer will approve of and remember.

When you are able to communicate clearly with the interviewer and relate specific events which capture the essence of a particular skill or ability, you will be well ahead of your competitors.

Think of it this way:

The interviewer asks this question of candidates #1, #2 and #3: “Have you ever been in a situation when you have had to calm down an employee who felt as though he’d been treated unfairly by another employee?”

Candidate #1 responds: “Well, I remember doing that once, although it was a nightmare. ”

Candidate #2 responds: “Yes, I listened attentively until he went away. ”

Candidate #3 responds: “Yes, I have been in that situation before. In fact, not long ago, a co-worker in a cubicle next to mine was furious that her boss was asking her to stay late 3 days in a row. I asked her to come to my cubicle and sit down while we worked out a way for the two of us to share the work load so that she could get home at a decent hour. ”

Who do you think the interviewer is going to remember? The storyteller will be remembered because the story itself has value and makes a statement.

When you are able to answer an interviewers questions (not all of them, mind you) with anecdotes that show the employer HOW you solved problems, motivated others, communicated well, saved the company money, worked efficiently and so on, you will be the one they offer the job to.

Employers are looking for people who show results. They want to hire individuals who can make a positive impact on the bottom line. If you can show them how you are one of those individuals, then you will be a part of their team.

As you think about the anecdotes you want to use, please heed these words of caution: Be positive, energetic and confident. Do not belittle anyone else. Do not offer negative comments about your previous/current employer. Identify yourself as someone with integrity, pride and determination and you will be successful.

Developing anecdotes is not hard. When reflecting on the possible questions a prospective employer might ask, simply go a step further and ask yourself, “Can you think of a time when this happened?”

Doing so may make the difference between you getting a job offer – or one of your competitors getting that offer.

Reach inside and find those anecdotes; those amusing, creative and positive stories. You will be SO GLAD you did.

Carla Vaughan

Carla Vaughan is the owner of , a web site devoted to assisting candidates in the job-search process. She holds a B. Business from Southern Illinois University and has authored a book titled, “The Do-It-Yourself Resume Kit” soon to be available on her site.

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