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The Science and Art of Storytelling in Recruitment

The Science and Art of Storytelling in Recruitment

Written by Lee Russell

Last edited May 5, 2023

The Science and Art of Storytelling in Recruitment

Storytelling is not only one of the oldest forms of communication in the world but can also be one of the most powerful ways to communicate a message which resonates with the reader/audience. Storytelling is not only one of the oldest forms of communication in the world but can also be one of the most powerful ways to communicate a message which resonates with the reader/audience.


As described by Carmine Gallo in his book, Talk like TED, stories act as one of the foundational blocks of a great presentation. In his book, he describes a scientific study which shows that an audience member actually “Mind Melds” with the speaker if the story is compelling and descriptive enough.

We’re going to look in depth into the science but also the art of storytelling in this article. Hopefully by the end of it you’ll be able to leverage this powerful tool to improve your recruitment prowess, thought-leadership, job ads, promoting your services and standing out in a crowded market.

The Science Behind Storytelling

Storytelling acts as a connection between causes and effects, providing a narrative which most people use as a means of communication in their daily life. The act of storytelling stimulates the area of the brain which processes language, as well as the Insula which attempts to relate emotion to the story being told. An empathetic response to a story can therefore be useful to understand and utilise in your own business, creating a personalised and memorable message that is more likely to prompt a response.

However, studies have also shown that repeated phrases and words can be ignored by the brain and therefore it’s important to balance the story’s descriptive language and narrative. Whilst most people use metaphors regularly in their conversations, it’s important not to rely on these over-used phrases which have little impact or meaning. For instance, the reader will show little interest in a job ad that uses the same phrases as similar roles advertised; you need to weave a story about the appealing aspects of the job without relying on a bullet point list, as you are more likely to spark a response.

The Mind Meld

Compared to the fictional “Mind Meld” of Star Trek, a 2010 study found that similarly, a storyteller can evoke a mutual response in the brain of the listener. After a delay, the study found that the listener’s brain activity began to mirror the activity of the storyteller and conceptualise the story.

Listeners are now familiar with the common structure of a story and therefore do anticipate a conflict and resolution. By keeping the details as easy to understand and interesting, the story can prevent the brain from skimming over the key details of the story. As a result, by perfecting the art of storytelling in your business, it is possible to weave an intriguing spin on your job ads as well as the promotion of your services, and below are a few ideas for how you can use it.

How to Use it in Recruitment

  1. Incorporate aspects of storytelling in your job ads; explore the ethos of the company and their vision. Instead of bullet pointing the benefits, tell a short story of how they have benefited workers in the past or how they can aid a future employee.
  2. Focus on blending the talents required for the job as part of your story. To attract talent which might normally ignore your ad you need to make it appealing. Do you have any videos or visual media which can accompany the story you are trying to create?
  3. Tell the story of the people who benefit from working for the company. What are the perks with the job – would they get more family time? Attempt to tell the human side of the story and why a new candidate should feel happy in this new job. Does the company have negative Glassdoor reviews? If so, it’s even more important to convey a convincing story of current employee experiences.
  4. Whilst it should be fairly brief, it still needs to be imaginative and capable of capturing the attention of potential new talent. What are the buzz words that would catch their attention? Incorporate these into your ad.
  5. Use your own recruitment experience to describe the success of a similar candidate to the one you are looking for – what was the story of how you caught their attention and helped them secure the job?
  6. Share stories with candidates and attempt to form a better, more personal connection.

Stories are an incredibly useful tool but should always be based on facts. You can be descriptive and imaginative in how you tell a story to capture their attention, but never stray far from the truth.

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