How to get great stories in an interview
Great stories cover desk-pounding moments — the moment of discovery, the moment of invention, the moment of decision. Nike, for instance, began when:
Nike co-founder, Bill Bowerman, poured liquid rubber into his wife’s waffle iron in an effort to provide a shoe sole that would give runners more traction. He created the famous “waffle” sole that is still used on running shoes today.
Good stories like this one cover one moment in time. Problem is, subject-matter experts usually talk about all the time.
So to find great stories in the interview, ask when questions. When questions take content experts back to a specific time, a specific place — and, often, a specific story.
When did you decide …?
Ask When questions that focus on:
- Moments of pain
- Moments of change
- Moments of crisis
- Moments of decision
These key moments are times that caused your subject matter expert to change course. That’s where the stories are.
When did you realize …?
A writer once asked Kansas City architect Cary Goodman when he knew he would join his profession. He told her about the time he built a fabulous tree house at the age of 9. His construction was so great that the local paper sent a photographer to shoot it. The photo made the front page.
“It was my first published building,” Goodman said. “That’s when I knew I wanted to be an architect.”
When questions are good questions. Whether you’re interviewing on the phone or face-to-face, a successful interview starts with prepared questions that get to stories.
Make it a story.
Storytelling has the power to engage, influence and inspire, according to the Harvard Business Review. If you want to move readers to act, ask when questions that uncover aha! moments.
How can you tell better business stories?
Stories are so effective that Og Mandino, the late author of the bestselling The Greatest Salesman in the World, says, “If you have a point, find a story.”
Learn to find, develop and write stories that engage readers’ hearts and minds at Master the Art of Storytelling, our business-storytelling workshop starting March 3.
There, you’ll learn how to find the aha! moment that’s the gateway to every anecdote. How to start an anecdote with a bang — instead of a whimper. And how to use “the most powerful form of human communication” to grab attention, boost credibility, make messages more memorable and communicate better.
Save up to $100 with our group discounts.