Sounding “overrehearsed” – wisdom from storytelling

One irony in job searching is that we sometimes seem to get to the offer stage more easily when we do not actually want the job, while received wisdom is that the way to get a job is to share your enthusiasm for the opportunity.   So how to reconcile this? I want to suggest that this is the same apparent contradiction that we encounter in storytelling around rehearsing. When you rehearse only a little bit (one or two times), the story sounds stilted and rough and it also loses its spontaneity. If you were to hear the story at this stage, your advice might be “don’t rehearse – better to sound a bit unpolished than to sound stilted and stiff!”


My experience as a storyteller has taught me that when you push through this awkward phase and continue rehearsing, you actually break through to the other side where the story has been rehearsed to the point of KNOWING it and OWNING it and it starts to sound alive again. With distance, you can now appreciate it differently as a performer and the telling starts to sound fresh again. When you have worked through your story enough to really achieve distance on it, you can reconnect to it’s emotional core, so maybe feel enthusiastic again


So maybe what this means is that when we show up for a job that we DON’T want, what the employer can hear and is attracted to might actually be the achieved distance on yourself. There might also be the happy bonus of not sounding nervous. With more practice, maybe we can talk in ways that achieve the same distance and remove the sense of immediacy even for jobs that we really do want!


Focus on cultivating your inner performer! Whether you believe it or not right then and there in that moment, talk like you know that you are the exact thing that this organization is looking for. Whether you feel it or not, speak in ways that communicate enthusiasm, and (without presumption or arrogance), talk like you already see yourself in the job.