The Hero Technique

Has there ever been a time in your life when you saved the day? "Hero" stories almost always make compelling interview stories. Was there a time when you put in the above-and-beyond effort? Or maybe a time when you did something that dramatically changed the course of events (for the positive, of course). Or perhaps even a time when you were a true hero, by saving someone's life or an act of great bravery? If so, work the story into your collection of compelling stories.

The difficulty with true hero stories can be in finding a successful bridge to the story. But with careful thought, you will find ample opportunities.

A recent interviewee told of the time when he literally saved someone from drowning in a lake, while cutting his feet on sharp objects trying to get to the drowning victim. This story came after a question about reaching goals in his life. Not sure how he got there? His bridge (after telling about his career goal of working for our company) was to say that he was very strong at keeping focused on the goal and not letting side issues deter him from achieving the objective. And he then went on to tell the story of how he saved the drowning victim, in spite of injuring himself in the process. He only realized he had cut his feet after he had carried the girl out of the lake. Thus, his focus is confirmed and the story is now ingrained in me, probably for posterity.

Another interviewee told of the time that she was given a surprise party by a customer of the company for which she worked. They were all so appreciative of the hard work that she put in that they gave her a going-away party when she went back to school. This story was given as a follow-on response to a question about how well she worked with others .

Another interviewee told of the time he hit the game-winning RBI in the final game of a softball tournament. He told the story in response to a question about teamwork and did it in a way to show that all the members of the team had contributed to the final outcome, even though he was the one carried off the field by his teammates. He used it as an example to show how he valued the bonding of the team and how each member was able to perform at a much higher level than would have been possible individually.

And finally, another interviewee told the story of sinking the 8-foot putt for victory on the first hole of sudden-death playoff in a golf tournament. He was asked a question about his ability to handle pressure, and he used the story to show that he actually thrived on pressure and performed at his peak while under pressure.

Hero stories play well in the minds of interviewers. They do not have to be work related (although work heroism is always the highest form, at least for the interview) and can include all aspects of life. We all love to hear a good story and hero stories are often some of the best. Think about the times in your life when you were the hero. And begin to weave your hero story (or stories) into your interviewing answer repertoire.