Imagine you are an HR Associate or HR Manager, sitting at a conference table with your team. You are mind-numbingly exhausted, borderline delirious, after having screened 20 candidates, 25 minutes at a time, with a five minute break in between, for the past 10 hours. You even had to inhale a sub, a Jimmy John’s sandwich, between interviews (glad they deliver!). Who do you invite back for a second interview? What do you recall? Which interviewee stood out to you?
Using this lens, here is a key tip to memorably and compellingly answer “what is your greatest strength,” and really any interview question, to improve your likelihood of being hired, brought in for another interview, or both.
Storytelling. Show, don’t tell. Begin by stating your specific strength, tell a story illustrating your use of the strength, and note the outcome. Simple. Why?
(1.) Recall. Jennifer Aaker, Social Psychologist and General Atlantic Professor of Marketing at Stanford, noted that stories are remembered up to 22 times more than facts alone;
(2.) Persuasion. Allows the listener to step into your world and begin imagining him or herself working with you (Future Pacing in Neuro Linguistic Programming);
(3.) Tone. You can more readily infuse your personality into an anecdote than via the rote enumeration of facts.
I could keep going . . .
(4.) Economy. More concise and organized way of transmitting information.
(5) Anthropology. Humanity has been storytelling since before the extinction of the Woolly Mammoth (c. 2000 BCE), the composition of the Rigveda (c. 1500 BCE), and Homer's birth (c. 750 BCE).
Okay, breathe. . . You get the point.
If you noticed my first paragraph, which put you in the shoes of an HR Manager or Associate, is a story. Do you remember what I had for lunch (recall)? Did you feel yourself stepping into the shoes of the decision-maker (persuasion)? Could you feel his or her stress (tone)?
This is the power of anecdotes.