Think back to the last person you befriended.
Chances are they told you an awesome story. Maybe it revealed their adventurous spirit. Perhaps it exemplified their happy disposition or emphasized their humor. Whatever it was about, the story stuck with you.
As a candidate going into a job interview, you want to create a memorable experience for your interviewers. And stories are a fantastic way to do that — particularly in creative fields. Not only do stories allow you to showcase your talents in a compelling way, they also help you appeal to your interviewers’ emotions and stand out from the crowd.
Below, we’ll explain why storytelling is so important and how to leverage it in your portfolio walk-throughs.
5 things storytelling can do for you
Storytelling can take a portfolio from good to great. Narrative and context and color brings your projects to life, giving interviewers more insight into your various skillsets.
- Communication – If your portfolio shows off your hard skills, your storytelling shows off your soft skills. As you explain what you did to reach each end result, interviewers gain insight into how you might communicate with others at the company. They’re picking up on what you think is important during the brainstorming and execution phases, how you organize your work, and how you learn.
- Creative process – People don’t just want to see a great end product. They want to know how you got there. It’s sort of like math in school — you have to show your work. Doing so gives people a sense of what it’s like to work with you.
- Selling your ideas – If you can tell an unforgettable story about your work, you can probably tell an excellent story about the company you work for and the product you sell. Storytelling during your interview shows how you convey ideas and how you use that talent to influence and persuade others.
- Versatility – Even creatives that are highly specialized are good at more than one thing. Interviewers like to see your depth and breadth of experience — things that are relatively easy to weave into your storytelling. For example, a copywriter might explain how she adapted to multiple clients with very different styles and tones, or a visual designer might highlight how he thinks about producing animations for B2B versus B2C audiences.
- Teamwork – Even though some creatives might be considered individual contributors, many work on a team. As you walk through your portfolio, discussing the ways you worked cross-functionally can suggest that you’re a team player.
What to remember when telling your story
Storytelling can feel a little awkward for many creatives. And that’s totally ok! To help get over that hump:
- Share what you know – You don’t want to have something in your portfolio that you can’t speak to. So make sure that every project is (1) something you directly contributed to and (2) easy for you to talk about.
- Be proud of your accomplishments – Storytelling can feel like you’re bragging, but you’re really not. You’re simply sharing your experiences and achievements. If you feel weird doing it, try sharing specific outcomes or case studies. Tangible KPIs help you feel like you’re putting an objective foot forward.
- It takes practice – Keeping your interviewers engaged but remembering to stay concise is challenging. So practice, practice, practice. If you’re working with a recruiter, ask them if they’d do a mock interview. They’ll be able to share helpful feedback that you can apply and practice again in the mirror or with a friend.
- Think about your audience – Research the people on your interview panel. Put yourself in their shoes and think about what questions they’d have for you. Try your best to weave the answers to those questions into your story, and have a few more anecdotes or metrics up your sleeve in case the interviewer asks for more detail.
Everyone can benefit from storytelling
While I’ve focused on creatives in this piece, storytelling is a critical skill for anyone in the job hunt. The end goal is to leave a lasting impression on your interviewer. You want them to walk away from the meeting associating you with one of your best, most collaborative projects hoping you can apply the same creative framework at their company.
Having trouble putting together your portfolio or coming up with a cohesive story? Reach out to our recruiting staff at Planet Technology. We know what our clients are looking for and can help you cater your portfolio and story to their needs.
In need of creative talent? We can help with that, too. Contact us at Planet Technology today.
Photo Credit: Canva