To make a long story short….
It is natural for a job seeker to be nervous in an interview. We are at our most vulnerable when something is at stake personally (getting or not getting the job). A key mistake made by many candidates is saying TOO MUCH when being concise would be better. Candidates are good at starting stories and continuing stories, but not always so good at wrapping up stories and making a point.
A good business story told in an interview is like any good story: It holds the listener’s interest, it has a story “arc” (a beginning, a middle and an end), and it makes a point.
Construct your business stories with 3 parts: Situation, action, results. Tell your story in 7 sentences – 2 for the situation, 3 for your actions, 2 for the results. This will keep your story concise – less than a minute in length – and will keep the listener interested.
Rehearse your stories in advance, so you can tell them smoothly and articulately, while sounding natural.
Whatever you do, know when to stop! We have found that the last two sentences tacked on to a story by a nervous candidate who didn’t think through the story in advance, are what gets that candidate in trouble. Don’t over-explain and add parts to the story that don’t enhance your portrayal of your skills, or don’t align with the needs for the position.
There are lots of other times to be concise in an interview too. When discussing troublesome job changes, your openness to travel or relocation, compensation requirements, and other sensitive issues, brief is better.
Keep in mind that most executive interviewers are low-data-users. They make decisions based on less information than you might think. Align with the way they process info, and make a long story short.