🎀 Once Upon a Hire: How to Tell Your Story and Land That Dream Job!

πŸ‘‹ Welcome back, language lovers! Today we’re diving into the wild world of job interviews in ENGLISH and you are a non-native English speaker! 

Yikes! Not fun.  A job interview is stressful enough without the language component.

🀯 This theme focuses on how to answer tricky job interview questions using storytelling techniques to make them simple, interesting, and effective in impressing interviewers. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a fresh-faced newbie, job interviews can be nerve-wracking, but by incorporating storytelling in your answers, you can convey your skills and experiences in a way that captivates the interviewer’s attention and helps you land your dream job. The tip provided in this theme will help job seekers master the art of storytelling during interviews, making it a powerful tool to win over potential employers. Make the stories engaging, clear, and memorable.

Once upon a time…

Storytelling.  For job interviews when asked questions such as: β€œTell me of a time when…. 1. you/your team could not meet a deadline; 2. You were given a new project without any instructions or guidelines… etc.” 

The structure of the answer can be a story.   But keep it clear and concise and especially make the point. Answer the question and then explain it.   The interviewers will ask for more detail if they want.

BTW, (by the way) Presentations follow the same structure.  Or you may be hanging out with colleagues or friends and you want to tell a story. The structure below is still applicable.  

🎺Introduction: Start by setting the context and providing a brief overview of the situation. This helps the interviewer understand the background of the story.  Use the past simple tense to describe the context and set the stage for your story. For example: “In my previous job, I worked as a marketing specialist for a tech startup.”

πŸ‰Challenge: Explain the specific problem or challenge you faced in the situation. Be specific and describe the difficulties you encountered. Use the past simple tense to describe the specific problem or challenge you faced. For example: “One day, our website crashed due to a server malfunction, and we were losing valuable traffic and potential customers.”

🎬 Action: Describe the steps you took to address the challenge. This is where you highlight your skills, experience, and abilities.  Use the past continuous tense to describe the actions you took to address the challenge. For example: “I immediately contacted the IT team to troubleshoot the issue, while simultaneously working with the marketing team to redirect traffic to our social media channels.”

⏩ Result: Explain the outcome of your actions. This should include the impact your actions had on the situation and any results or achievements that were attained.  Use the past simple tense to describe the outcome of your actions. For example: “Within a few hours, we were able to restore the website and redirect traffic, resulting in a 10% increase in website traffic compared to the previous week.”

πŸ€” Reflection: Conclude your story by reflecting on what you learned from the experience. This shows that you are a self-aware individual who is able to analyze situations and grow from them. Use the past simple or present perfect tense to reflect on what you learned from the experience. For example: “This experience taught me the importance of staying calm under pressure and the value of effective communication between teams.”

πŸ†— Using this structure will help you stay focused and organized when telling your story. It will also help the interviewer follow along and understand the key points of your story. Remember to keep your story concise and relevant to the job you are applying for.

β›”Some don’ts:

  1. πŸ’£ Don’t ramble: Keep your answers concise and to the point. Nobody wants to listen to a never-ending story.
  2. πŸ’£ Don’t exaggerate your achievements or qualifications. It will always catch up with you.
  3. πŸ’£Don’t badmouth previous employers: Even if you had a terrible boss or coworkers, it’s best to avoid negativity in a job interview.

πŸ€“ Language Tips

Spicing up your story with adjectives and images.

In English, we normally place adjectives before nouns.  We can put a few adjectives together before a noun; even three or four. 

For example.  You have beautiful, long, wavy, red hair.  We put our opinion first: beautiful, then the physical description, and then the color.  

Another example: My previous job required quite complex, highly-developed, technical, coding knowledge. 

🏁 Hyphenated adjectives: If you notice we have used a hyphenbetween two words to create a single adjective.   These types of adjectives make our descriptions more interesting.  For instance:  The long-toothed tiger was hunting the deer. 

We can write long toothed tiger.  But in this instance is it referring to the long tiger or to the long teeth the tiger had?  By using a hyphen we know that the teeth were long.    

Another example of a hyphenated adjective?  The little known actor fell asleep.  Is the actor little?  Or is he not very well known?  The little-known actor fell asleep.

A typical use of these types of adjectives is with the use of age.  The thirty-year-old car was in good condition. 

πŸ’«We can use vivid images to spice up our story here are some examples:  (these are the most fun types of descriptions)

  1. Her eyes were oceans of emotion. In this sentence, “oceans of emotion” is a metaphor that modifies the noun “eyes” to create a metaphorical adjective.
  2. The pizza was as hot as an oven. In this sentence, “as hot as an oven” is a simile that modifies the noun “pizza” to create a simile adjective.
  3. The tiger’s fur was as soft as velvet. In this sentence, “as soft as velvet” is a simile that modifies the noun “fur” to create a simile adjective.
  4. The sun was a blazing ball of fire. In this sentence, “a blazing ball of fire” is a metaphor that modifies the noun “sun” to create a metaphorical adjective.
  5. The man had more teeth than a horse race. In this sentence “more teeth than a horse race” is a metaphorical exaggeration.

πŸ’₯ Finally, but not less importantly: use synonyms instead of common adjectives. 

🧠 Time to flex those brain muscles: Vocabu-licious!

  • A seasoned pro is an experienced expert, while a fresh-faced newbie is a newcomer or beginner.
  • Nerve-wracking means causing extreme anxiety.
  • Captivates means holds attention or interest. 
  • To land your dream job is to secure your desired career position.
  • To win over means to persuade or gain approval.
  • A tech startup is a new business in the technology sector.
  • Website crashes and server malfunction refer to website or server failures.
  • To troubleshoot is to identify and fix problems.
  • To redirect traffic to our social media channels means to divert visitors to our social media pages.
  • Being self-aware means having knowledge and understanding of one’s own personality and behavior.
  • To ramble is to speak aimlessly or incoherently.
  • To badmouth means to speak negatively or critically about someone.
  • To catch up means to update oneself on recent events or information.

🍴 Idioms: Feed Your Brain with Tasty Phrases!

Here are 5 idioms that can be used in job interviews.  They are formal and showcase your knowledge of the language. 

“Put my best foot forward” – meaning to make a good impression or do your best.

Example: “I always strive to put my best foot forward in any task or project I’m given.”

“Wear many hats” – means to have multiple roles or responsibilities.

Example: “As a small business owner, I often have to wear many hats, from accounting to marketing.”

“Hit the ground running” – meaning to start a new job or task with energy and enthusiasm.

Example: “I’m confident that with my experience and skills, I can hit the ground running and make an immediate impact on your team.”

“Go the extra mile” – meaning to do more than is expected or required.

Example: “I always try to go the extra mile for my clients, whether it’s staying late to finish a project or providing additional support.”

“Think outside the box” – meaning to approach a problem or task in a creative or unconventional way.

Example: “I pride myself on being able to think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions to challenges.”

πŸ’ͺ Get Your Practice: Flex Those Language Muscles!

  1. Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer or client.
  2. Describe a situation where you had to solve a complex problem on the job.
  3. Can you give an example of a time when you had to work under pressure to meet a deadline?
  4. Tell me about a time when you had to work as part of a team to achieve a goal.
  5. Describe a situation where you had to communicate a difficult message to a coworker or supervisor.
  6. Can you give an example of a time when you had to adapt to a new or unexpected situation?
  7. Tell me about a time when you had to take initiative to get a project or task done.
  8. Describe a situation where you had to overcome a challenge or obstacle in the workplace.
  9. Can you give an example of a time when you had to learn a new skill or technology quickly?
  10. Tell me about a time when you had to make a tough decision in the workplace.

πŸ‘‚ Listen Up! Ear- Workout

Julian Treasure: How to speak so that people want to listen | TED Talk

Celeste Headlee: 10 ways to have a better conversation | TED Talk  

πŸ’™ See You Later, Linguaphiles! Keep the Language Love Flowing!

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Special thanks

A shout-out to Luis from Miami and Surnjani from Dallas for the inspiration!

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