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Storytelling: The Easiest Way to More Memorable Essays and Interviews

The top priority of any essay or interview should be to be remembered. You want your application to stick in the minds of the admissions committee. The essay is one of the easiest ways to do that. If you interview directly with someone from the admissions committee, the interview is also a great way to be memorable. But even if you only have an alumni interview, you want that interview to be remembered. Interviewers conduct dozens of interviews each year. You want to make sure your’s sticks.

Why are Stories so Important?

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So how can you ensure that you have an essay or interview that no one forgets? Become an amazing story teller. Stories are easy to remember. Just think about how information was passed from generation to generation before the written word: through stories. Why are fables and parables so powerful and memorable? Because they are stories. Think about your classes. What do you remember better from your history classes? Facts and figures or a particularly engaging story? Now that I’ve convinced you that stories are the way to stick in your reader’s or interviewer’s memory, you probably want to know how to craft a compelling story.

 

How to Craft a Compelling Story

 

Your stories should have a clear problem, solution, and result. The very first thing you should do when coming up with your stories is to determine the problem, solution, and result. Then fill in the rest from there.

 

Some common pitfalls of storytelling that I’m sure all of you have experienced are:

  • The circular story: They shouldn’t be circular in nature, repeating over and over. We’ve all been stuck talking to someone who repeats their story over and over again. Don’t let that be you.
  • The no-point story: Don’t craft a story that doesn’t tell me anything. Have you ever left a conversation being like huh? Or read a book and then thought wait what was the point of that? Those books that you don’t remember a month after reading them probably told you no story.
  • The cliff hanger: This isn’t a season finale. Don’t leave me hanging. Make sure your story gives me the solution and result. Don’t just tell me the problem.

I want you to spend one hour today thinking of stories you can use to answer the essay questions in your applications or common interview questions. Once you have some good story topics, spend some time crafting the stories. Practice telling them. Practice writing them down. See where they fall flat and need to be tweaked. Work on your transitions. I want you to develop a story toolbox that you can pull out of at a moment’s notice. This is a skill that will be valuable throughout your life. It’s powerful in job interviews and in social settings. By developing this skill and the habits to keep it up now, you will be so far ahead of the game!

 

Action Steps

  1. Spend 10 minutes right after reading this doing the following:
    1. Block out an hour of time each week on your calendar to work on your story toolbox.
    2. Create a Google drive folder to keep your story toolbox organized.
  2. After that, spend 1 hour writing out a list of stories you could use for interviews or essays. Go back to this list during your weekly story writing time and start writing the first story on the list.

 

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Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

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