Safe stories for your job interviews are the types of stories that answer questions without revealing too much. Safe stories always paint the best picture of you, showing why you would be the perfect candidate.
Above all, safe stories are never “TMI”. Too much information can make an interview awkward instantly. Learn these 4 safe stories for your job interviews, perfect for when interviews go into the 3rd and 4th rounds.
1. The Story of You Overcoming the Odds
Workplaces are filled with obstacles and relationships to navigate. At times, large projects and even the simplest of tasks can turn into a challenge. If you overcome challenges against all odds, make sure you save these stories for future job interviews. Your real-life stories of overcoming challenges and how you did it, speaks volumes about your abilities to think outside the box and think critically.
Note: This does not mean you need to tell a personal story, like how you battled a disease or showed up to work with a broken leg. Keep your stories job-related! The shorter, the better. There is less room for revealing too much information.
2. The Story of You Showing You Are Not Perfect
People make mistakes. Everyone knows it. What sets people apart in job interviews is the mistake they share, and the story of how they took action to address it. The safest way to do this is to focus on a minor mistake, one that did not put co-workers and the company in harm’s way. Keep it safe by emphasizing how you fixed it, more than the actual mistake.
Note: This is not the time to admit you had burned bridges with a company or accidentally violated a non-compete clause. Big mistakes should be dealt with on your own and never be spoken about it in interviews.
3. The Story of You as a Leader of Teams
Prepare stories about times in the past when you successfully took charge of a project or operation. Explain the quantifiable results of your actions and never utter a word of negativity about areas you failed in. Always keep these types of stories brief, job-related, and to the point. Leaders, after all, do not have to talk much. Their actions and results speak for them.
Note: Never state you took over as a leader “because no one knew what they are doing”. This type of behavior paints you as a person who gets bossy when they do not get their way.
4. The Story of You, the Most Interesting Person Alive
When a hiring manager is pretty sure you are a great fit for the role, they may want to dig deeper. They want to find out if you are interesting. They want to find out more about your personality. The questions will start to shift and sound something like this:
“Tell me something you like to do outside of work.”
Now, this is not the time to reveal hobbies about yourself that could potentially be awkward. Ask your friends what they think about your answer to the question. Revealing that you go to the shooting range every week may get you a strange look. It is better to share that you are a soccer coach or enjoy renovating furniture.
In other words, keep your answers politically correct and safe. Talk about the things that do not impose beliefs or create fear in others.
Note: If possible, keep your answer to this question related to the job you for which you are applying. For example, if you are applying to be a Marketing Director at a sporting goods chain, a safe story would be talking about your love of sports.
The definition of “safe”
If you are curious what qualifies as a “safe” story, consider the definition of the word. Make sure your stories "protect you do not expose you to danger or risk" of losing the job. If your story puts your job potentially at risk, leave it out of the interview.