The Power of Storytelling: How to Ace Your Job Interviews and Become Better Leaders

Having good interviewing skills are essential to helping you land the job you want for the future, but knowing what technique to practice can be difficult. NAAAP’s “The Power of Storytelling Event” gave a unique insight into the importance of storytelling in an interview and laid out the best ways to effectively tell your story to reveal your leadership qualities! The event was led by Temple’s own Zilong Zhao who was NAAAP’s former president and is a current Actuarial Senior Analyst/ on-campus recruiter at Cigna. See how storytelling can help your future!

What is Storytelling?

  • Many companies try to tell a story to connect to an audience
  • Zilong showed a touching story told by the popular, consumer goods company P&G
  • Although the story did not reflect the company itself, it reflected the company’s values instead.
  • This story gave an emotional connection that the audience can remember.

Why do we tell stories?

  • To inform: To tell the interviewer about yourself
  • To engage: Through the use of emotions
  • Inspire: Inspire the interviewer, team members, and others around you
  • It’s an effective tool to explain abstract ideas
  • Influencing opinions
    • What you’ve learned before may not help you in another job so it’s always good to be able to change someone’s first impression of you if it does not turn out well
    • Leading Changes
  • Giving Feedback
    • If you give your coworkers critique, storytelling allows you to give the feedback more effectively.
  • To get a job and internship
    • Get to know what the company is looking for and know that you can’t tell interviewers what you did, you have to show them through stories. Based on what you did before, interviewers are looking to see if  you are showing the qualities they want. There are some qualities that can only be shown through storytelling.

How do we Storytell?

  • The STAR(T) method: Situation, Task, Actions, and Result
  • Situation: What’s the issue
  • Task: A way to resolve the issue
  • Action: Actually carry out the plan to solve the issue, the story you tell should have some opposing force that makes your story interesting
  • Result: What is the conclusion of the problem after your action
  • Take-away: An extra step that allows the employer to capture the quality you’re highlighting to them.
    • What did you contribute?
    • Even though teamwork is important, make sure you let the interviewer know what you brought to the plate rather than your team. Remember: The employer is trying to hire you, not your team.

Step-by-Step: How to Storytell

1.) Use metaphors and analogies: It communicates a message in an easier way to make people understand

2.) Include dialogues and emotion: Make business personal by adding emotion

  • The dialogue allows the emotions to come out
  • Use Logic, Emotion, and Credibility to stand out in an interview by appealing to the employer in these three ways
      • For example, make sure to connect to the company emotionally and know the company for what it stands for. Does the personal mission of the company and yours align? By communicating an emotional connection to the company, your employer knows that you are not just looking at them for their external values but internal values as well.

3.) Keeping it tangible and concrete

  • Allow the interviewer to know your thought process and your actions so that they see you are not just going through the motions of solving a problem.

4.) Include a surprise/ turning point

  • If the process of solving your problem is too smooth, then the interviewer is not able to see how hard you worked.

5.) Create universal experience in order to relate to them

  • Make it so that the interviewer is able to understand the situation by creating a relatable experience that they will be able to draw from.

Storytelling: What can we use as Stories?

Collect stories by:

  • Paying attention to daily life
  • Trying new experiences – “Serendipity”
    • When Zilong was interviewing students, he found that people who had leadership positions were able to talk more about a time when they encountered conflict.
  • Reading stories
    • By reading, you’re able to show more knowledge that you gained from books.


“You have to go beyond informing people. You have to engage the heart, build a connection with the audience, and in the end inspire action within them.” – Zilong Zhao


One thought on “The Power of Storytelling: How to Ace Your Job Interviews and Become Better Leaders

  1. Zilong_Z says:

    Thanks NAAAP Temple for having me! Check out my new site,, for more professional development related content. 🙂


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