The Four Types of Stories You Need to Blitz Your Next Job Interview

Using stories during your job interview will significantly increase your chances of blitzing it. Your stories need to be relevant, authentic and appropriate for the job you are going for. In addition to that, you need a variety of work related and personal stories.

Many people tend to only share work related stories, but there are four types of story you need to ensure you nail your next job interview.


Literal story

A work-related story that demonstrates a specific capability you have. If you’re applying for a similar job in a similar industry, then the majority of your stories will be literal.

Learn story

Usually a work-related story, though sometimes it can be a personal one, that shows what you learned from a particular experience. The purpose of a learn story is to demonstrate one of your values or a key learning you had.

Like story

Usually a personal story that shows how capable you are at something, though sometimes it can be a work-related story from a different job role or industry as the one you are interviewing for.

Like stories are useful if you are just starting your career, changing careers or industries or returning to work from a long absence such as paternity/maternity leave or a career break.

Lateral story

A personal story that you can use to demonstrate a specific value you have. This story will show how you align with the organisation’s values and how you will fit in with their culture. Lateral stories are perhaps the most underused stories in job interviews, but can be your most powerful.

Here is an example of a lateral story a senior manager used to demonstrate how she could handle risk.

Ten years ago, I was scuba diving o the coast of Mexico. It was perfect weather and brilliant conditions. However, five minutes after descending, I got caught in a rip. It dragged me for kilometres and split me up from my dive group. I was getting banged against rocks and thrown around. My heart was pumping, and I was running out of air.

I emerged from the rip after what seemed like hours and eventually found one of my dive group underwater. With limited air, we surfaced relatively quickly but safely. I remember feeling my head break the surface of the water and looking around to find the boat, but the boat wasn’t there and there was no sign of land. We were alone.

I had to take control of the situation before we started panicking, so I dropped my weight belt and took off my tank to make myself lighter and conserve energy. I filled my buoyancy vest to the max to get my head high above the water and the waves that were crashing down on us, and then I tied myself to my dive buddy.

Two hours later, the boat eventually found us and we were rescued.

I am sharing this with you because I think it captures the essence of how I approach being a leader. I am able to make tough and quick decisions in a crisis, and I have resilience. Even though my experience in Mexico was unbelievably scary at the time, a part of it was exhilarating. I know in this role we will encounter rips and rough seas, and I know I am up for it.

You do not need an identical number of stories for each type. You may find you’ll be heavy in one type of story and light in another. For example, if you’re applying for a similar job, you may have a lot of literal stories and perhaps only one or two like stories. Perhaps you’re returning to work after an extended time, or this is your first job, which means you will have a lot of like stories and minimal literal stories, if any at all.

Going into a job interview with the necessary skills, experience and qualifications is crucial, however, using a variety of personal and work related stories will help you blitz that next job interview.