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What are story circles and how can they help at interview

about 1 month ago by Olivia Buckland

​What are Story Circles and how do they relate to behavioural interview questions?

​Story circles help people answer behavioural interview questions. These questions require candidates to share situations they've been in and how they used their skills to obtain a positive outcome. These questions are asked to establish what motivates and drives candidates, how they think and act, and how they approach their work. The purpose is to determine if a candidate has the character traits required to align with the mission and values of the organisation – and therefore if they would complement the team, or not.

​What is the benefit of using a story circle?

​People approach job interviews in different ways, some prepare thoroughly, and others wing it. Being both over-prepared and under-prepared can cause unnecessary nerves if a question you didn't expect is thrown in. This leads people to rambling and not focusing on the result. This is where story circles can help. The aim is to create 7 or 8 story circles that can allow you to answer 50 or 60 different behavioural questions. But how is this done?

​4 steps to creating your story circle.

1. Begin with practice questions.

​Start by thinking of a common behaviour-based question. If you can't think of any, Google is a good place to start. If you re-read the job description it might suggest what questions they might ask. For example, if the job description says something such as 'happy to work in a fast-paced environment' they might ask a question about a time when you encountered a task that needed a quick turnaround time. As a recruitment agency, we spend a lot of time looking at and writing job adverts, the job ad is almost like a cheat sheet for the interview!

2. Be a STAR

We have recently discussed this method - read the blog here. Situation, Task, Action, Result. This is how you start to collate your story, make sure you have a clear structure with emphasis on the result. Context is important but the result is what the interviewer really wants to know about.

3. Actually create your story circle.

Put pen to paper and think of a word or symbol that will jog your memory. After you're happy with your word or symbol, draw lines around your word or symbol and think about all the different types of behavioural-based questions this one story can answer. If it can't answer at least 4 different questions, you need to reword or get rid of it.

​When you have a story that you're confident can answer more than four questions, it's now time to flesh it out a bit. What is meant by this is to think about your story and what parts of it you can emphasize to answer different questions.

​Here’s an example:

​The interviewer asks 'Tell me a time when you improved a process or system, how did you go about this and what was the result?'

​If you were interviewing for a project manager role, you would focus your answer and emphasize the steps you took and how you laid out your plan. Alternatively, you could also use the same story for a leadership role but instead of focusing on the steps you would use your story to discuss the dynamics of the team and how you led people according to their strengths.

4. Write more stories

But not so many that you can't remember them! Look at the job description for an upcoming job interview and see if you can figure out what they might ask.

As a recruitment agency, candidate interview preparation is part of our service for candidates. If you're looking for your next opportunity in the food, fresh produce, horticultural or agricultural sectors please get in contact by calling 01780 480 530 or email