Last year I learned how story coaching could inject confidence and focus into the interview experience.

The catalyst was a talk I did at the Institute of Directors in February, where three individuals approached me to ask if I could help them tell their story in forthcoming interviews: a deputy financial director of a large charity, a futures and options product manager and a civil engineer. They were all interviewing for positions where they would be ‘transitioning their role’. They needed their interviewer to see their potential as well as their experience. On each occasion I worked with the client on Skype for a couple of 90 minutes sessions and what we discovered really made a huge difference to the way they presented their case.

Here are a few gems that became game-changers for these interviews…

Create a world your interviewer can imagine
The deputy FD was interviewing for the FD role, and when we started she was telling me all the reasons her boss might not see her potential as an FD. As we worked through, it became clear to both of us that if she wanted her boss to visualise her as an FD, she had paint the picture of the world that would exist if she was the FD, and let her boss walk into that world. As soon as that was the project, my client described to me a very clear vision she had for the business under her leadership. It was a turning point in terms of her confidence because now she was visualising herself in that world too.

Ensure your interview is answering the right question
The instinctive question we think we have to answer in an interview is ‘Are you good at what you do?’. This is obviously an important question but it may not be the ultimate question. The question changes depending on which interview stage, you are at, and who is interviewing you. The product manager decided on, ‘How can you help me accomplish what I want to accomplish?’ the civil engineer decided simply on, ‘Can I work with you?’ and the deputy FD (who was being interviewed by the CEO) started with ‘Can you do the job?’ but eventually decided on ‘Can you help me do my job?’

Plan the journey
The last stage of the story coaching was to plan the interview as though it was a story – with a flow that took the interviewee from walking in, right through to finishing at the point they had chosen. It proved to be a huge support in terms of confidence because in each case the individual could:-

• visualise a version of the entire interview beforehand
• use a map to get back on track if the conversation ever went off course
• decide on their end point and what it would achieve

In all three cases the interviewees made it through their first interviews and some went on to get the job itself. I only wish I had worked this out earlier in life when I was interviewing for TV jobs by going in for a meandering chat and hoping the interviewer would see my qualities as we went along!