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There is so much that divides our country. We continue to passionately disagree on social
issues such as abortion, gun rights, gender equality, economic disparities, climate issues, etc.
and of course, we are split on if Democratic or Republican leadership is best for the future of the

Added to this list is another topic that drives intense and visceral reactions; people either love or
hate Star Wars. Yeah, the movie. In my experience, you either are captivated with everything
from Admiral Ackbar to Zeb Orrelios or you roll your eyes at the mention of Jabba The Hutt or
Yoda. Can’t we agree on anything as a nation?!

There are many reasons why people don’t like the Star Wars franchise, but even the biggest
critics will agree that the movies do have some really good storytelling. The movies follow a
typical “Hero’s Journey” where there is a hero who embarks on an adventure, faces trials and
challenges, undergoes personal transformation, and ultimately returns home or achieves a
significant goal. This hero framework is used extensively in effective storytelling.

Again, even critics will give merit to strong storytelling. Which brings us to recruiting and the
need for candidates to learn how to tell their stories. Specifically, to express their skills,
interests, values, style, successes and failures through a storytelling framework. I have two
questions for you to ponder here: 1) do you use stories to communicate your competencies and
2) are your stories any good?

Let’s start with the easier question, in interviews do you use stories to communicate who you
are? Here is a simple interview question “how do you deal with client conflict”? The
non-storytelling candidate typically launches into generic, unsupported personal claims such as
“I remain patient”, “I’m always respectful”, “I focus on resolving the issue”, etc. These all may be
true but not much helpful data is being shared in these responses. And aren’t these Captain
Obvious responses?

A better approach for the candidate is to use a detailed story to illustrate how such a conflict
was handled. Starting with “Let me give you a recent example where I dealt with a client who
was unhappy with our team’s approach to resolving X issue”, the candidate can then go into
detail into the nature of the issue, what team members were involved on both sides, what actual
words the candidate used in the exchange, and the actual outcome of the situation. In this
case, the interviewer now has a clear picture on how the candidate may deal with situations in
their environment. They have valuable data on how to assess the candidate relative to other
employees in similar roles.

So stories are a highly effective way of building a bridge between one’s skills and the company’s

But just because someone tells a story doesn’t mean that it’s a good one. Seriously, how many
friends do you have where you cringe at the thought of them telling another story (or the same
story they’ve told umpteem times)? Think through why you cringe – is it aimless and way too
long, is there no structure to the story, or is it all “look at how great I am”? The next time you
are at a social gathering, pay attention to how others communicate as well as your reaction to
their stories.

My suggestions for telling a good story are simply to put the story into a structure (beginning,
middle and end), to think through what relevant items you want to highlight in the story, and to
ensure that your conclusion truly pulls everything together. Of course some storytelling involves
things such as developing some tension, conflict, obstacles and emotional engagement. I’ll
leave those for a later time to share how to improve your storytelling. Don’t expect to be a Jedi

Hire Thought-Think through the examples that best illustrate your skills and competencies. When you’ve
identified a good example from your background, use the STAR (Situation, Task, Activity,
Results) as a structure for your story. You should have a bank of stories developed that address
the most critical aspects of a company’s job description. Like so much in recruiting, the
storytelling process begins with being highly reflective and thoughtful.

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