Creating a remarkable first-hand story is one of the best ways to show off what people can expect from joining your company. Done right, they can demonstrate who you are, what you do, and the diverse range of people who represent you. But how do we turn a 30-minute conversation into a 5-minute blog? By following this guide, you’ll find out how to craft stories with a strong theme, a naturally flowing structure, and a narrative that’s as compelling as your employment opportunities.

The Right Questions

When you sit down to have a conversation with someone, it’s important to have a solid set of questions to refer to. You might even want to send them to the person you’re interviewing ahead of time, so they have a chance to consider their answers and feel more prepared for the meeting. Think about what information you want to highlight from their experience as an employee, as well as some general questions that can provide background flavour when you come to write the blog.

Always make sure that you’re asking open-ended questions – you don’t want to end up with a bunch of yes or no answers. The goal is to get as much information as possible from the chat.

Some good examples of questions could be:

  • Who are you and what do you do?
  • How long have you worked here?
  • Could you take me back to when you first joined and tell me about that?
  • What’s the best thing about your job?
  • What one thing stands out during your time here?
  • What are your ambitions?
  • How have you changed since joining here?

These questions encourage your interviewee to tell a story in their own words – which will not only produce more information for you to use, but may also generate some powerful quotes and themes. If you pick up on a point or an angle that you want to explore further, don’t feel rigidly confined to your pre-prepared questions. Ask follow-ups, expand on those throwaway comments – you might end up with a very different, yet even better blog than you first thought.

Hit ‘Record’

There’s no getting around it – it’s difficult to have a chat with someone and write notes at the same time. That’s why it’s always a good idea to record your conversation, and if possible, have it transcribed too. Most video call applications like Teams and Zoom have this feature built in – so as long as you’ve got permission from the people you’re chatting with, remember to press that ‘Record’ button!

That way, you know that the important messages are all being accurately captured as you go, and you don’t have to worry about forgetting the key points when you come back to write the blog later. It also means you can focus all your attention on what the person’s actually saying. When you put your mind to listening, it can give you a chance to ask further questions and get more details – perhaps finding out some interesting things that you’d have otherwise missed.

Let Them Cook

It may seem counter-intuitive, but try to talk as little as possible. If you’re not careful, it can be easy to interrupt or put words in someone’s mouth. People instinctively feel the need to fill any silences in a conversation, so if there is a pause, stay quiet and wait for them to fill it. It’s natural to want to say something, but remember – the blog’s about them, not about you. Let them speak.

During your conversation, you’ll always find that a theme occurs. This might be ‘learning’ or ‘diversity’ or ‘journey’ or ‘team’ or ‘challenge’. You’ll find that this theme appears through different aspects of your conversation. Whatever it is, write it down in the moment and talk to the person you are having a meeting with to check that it feels right. This theme will become the thread that binds the blog together.

Shaping Their Voice

The advice we give to writers is the same advice we’d give to bodybuilders – you need to focus on structure and tone. Using your notes and transcription (perhaps also referring back to your prepared questions as a rough blueprint), you should be able to create a linear structure that breaks up the copy with interesting subheadings, and transitions fluidly from one element to another. For a blog like this, eight structure headlines should be the absolute maximum you’re using, otherwise you risk it becoming overlong and meandering.

As for tone – always remember that the people you come across all speak with their own unique voice. They have different accents and backgrounds, different mannerisms and senses of humour. Go back over your transcript and see if you’ve fully captured the colloquialisms, idiosyncrasies, and turns of phrase that are reflective of the individual you’re supposed to be representing.

Remember ‘Remarkable’

Your instinct might be to try and replicate the conversation you had as accurately as possible, focusing on the person’s journey precisely as it was told to you. However, finding a strong theme and refocusing the entire narrative along this throughline will create a much more impactful blog. It’s important to be truthful, but shining light on certain individual experiences will help isolate the various strengths of your company.

So, as we weave these conversations into stories, remember the magic lies in the remarkable, the thematic, and the authentic voices that reflect the vibrant spirit of your business.

Need a little help?

If you feel that you’d like some help, support or even a little chat around your recruitment marketing content or aspect of your employer brand and talent attraction strategy just drop us a line. After all, much of our best work has started with a cup of tea and a Zoom call.