Why & How to Use Storytelling in Recruitment

March 27, 20202:10 pm3484 views
Why & How to Use Storytelling in Recruitment
Why & How to Use Storytelling in Recruitment

Long gone are the days where a job interview session is merely about asking the same questions to candidates. Today, recruiters and hiring managers must attract their talents better by sharing stories. 

Why stories? 

Storytelling is by far one of the best strategies to increase the value of a product or service, not to mention in recruitment. According to a DMI survey, companies have the power to increase the value of a product or service by over 20 times when they tell their brand story well. Meanwhile, nearly every individual (92 percent) wants a brand that feels more like a story and messages delivered as a story can be up to 22x more memorable than facts alone. 

The power of storytelling 

Not only is storytelling one of the oldest ways to get people together, but it has also been used as a means to connect, inform, and entertain. CEO of Indie Books International, Henry DeVries wrote that stories capture one’s imaginations and make people understand what they are reading, listening, or seeing better. For this reason, compelling stories would be a great power in driving recruitment marketing success. 

Quoting from Jeremy Hsu, DeVries added that storytelling is human universal which is more than simple tales to tell as these tales can capture one’s emotion and thinking which can be inextricably tied to those of the story’s character. Hence, imagine your candidates hear a good story of your company, there is a huge chance that your candidate can connect emotionally even before joining your company, which is good for your company brand. 

See also: Why HR Need to Pay More Attention to Digital Labour Recruitment

Three must-have characters for your recruiting storytelling 

An engaging story always consists of three main characters: the villain, the mentor/guru, and the heroes. The rest would depend on how you create the story to engage your targeted audience. 

For this section, let’s learn the three characters first. In your employment story for candidates, make sure to focus on candidates’ heroic journey through your company. The concept of the quest would be as follows: 

The villain  

You do not need to adopt from science fiction where the villain would possess supernatural power. In your story, a villain can refer to some forms of skills deficits, stalled innovation, a lack of diversity, status quo, need for a fresh perspective, an aggressive competitor, or other obstacles on the road to progress. This is where you give your candidate reason to join and rewards gained where they solve the problem. 

Give your talent champion a shared mission and meaning they can rally behind as vital contributors who will learn new skills and refine their abilities along the way.  

The mentor or guru 

In every movie, in order to tackle a hard problem, one must first gain knowledge and power. It’s just the same with you. In order to help your candidates thrive, show them how you will help them tackle the problem rather than let them wander and solve it themselves. That said, this role would belong to learned and experienced leaders who will provide guidance, inspiration, training and direction, such as manager, leader, or experienced senior who can mentor. 

In your storytelling, highlight how you and your people are growing together. By showing that you are ready to train your candidate and advance together with them, you can win both higher value and loyal candidates. Remember, people today have thirst for learning.  

The heroes 

In a historical movie, heroes are not alone in battling their enemy (the villain). There are always good friends, good mentors, and good knowledge behind every success. The best way to highlight your exceptional storytelling of your workplace culture is by telling your candidates that “victories are achieved by teams of heroes (every stakeholder in the workplace).” 

You can also highlight stories of your clients, employee’s experiences, testimonials of past workers or candidates. Even better, encourage social media campaigns driven by other employees to tell stories directly to your target audience. 


Science fictions are excellent, however, there is always authenticity in each noble story. Same as excellent storytelling, you should also bring authenticity in your recruitment storytelling. To focus on creating a good story, you should remember these points: 

  • Remember your target audience, is it employee or candidate? 
  • Build trust in your story by keeping your storytelling relatively informal, conversational, and honest. This is not a movie after all, therefore, make sure you relate it with your purpose and target audience. 
  • Keep it short and concise. The recruitment storytelling is meant to attract, so make sure you create something that generates a positive impact.
  • Human touch. Technology is important especially in the future business, however, emphasising on the human side could differentiate yours from your competitor’s. 

Some of the greatest storytelling in the recruitment world 

Here are two excellent examples of how companies use storytelling for their recruitment purposes. 


As cited by HBR, to connect their employees to a campaign, KPMG developed an application that enables their team to create and share digital posters modelled after their “Inspire confidence. Empower Change.” After this campaign, KPMG successfully received 42,000 employees contributed stories and found that 90 percent of surveyed employees reported their higher purposes initiatives increased people’s pride in KPMG. Using a storytelling strategy focusing on “KPMG We Shape History”, the campaign drives the company to be a great place to work that results in higher engagement, morale, and communication. See KPMG video story here

Nurse Next Door 

Nurse Next Door is senior home care headquartered in Canada. They use storytelling to support employer and consumer brands to bring a deeper meaning of a company’s true value. Their stories go deeper than testimonials, humanizing caretaker, employees, and culture. See the video story here. After implementing this storytelling strategy in their recruitment, Nurse Next Door does not get a spike in applications, rather they see a much higher quality in their candidates as those who apply are those who truly connect with the company’s mission. That said, storytelling helps the company deliver the right message to the right job candidates. 

Read also: The Real Key to Successful Recruitment: Advice from Rebecca Skilbeck

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