How To...Tell a Story in an Interview

In this competitive job market, the difference between two equally-qualified candidates may be the ability to articulate their experience during the interview process.  It has become increasingly important to prepare compelling stories about your work experience as interviewers increase their use of behavioral interview questions.  Behavioral questions ask a candidate to describe an experience related to job competencies in order to assess a candidate's fit for a job.  For example, an interview for a sourcing agent may comprise questions about experience applying certain negotiation tactics and financial results from past negotiations.  

The easiest way to respond to behavioral questions is the “CAR” method: Context, Action, Result.  

Context.  Where were you working (organization, job, university, etc)?  Why is this an important experience?  What were your goals or objectives? 

Action.  What actions did you take to achieve your objectives?  Did you do anything unique or innovative?  Focus on your contributions and use the pronoun “I” rather than “we”.

Result.  How did your actual results compare to your goals or targets?  Do you have any quantitative results?  Did you receive feedback from others?


Sounds simple, right?  It is, when you aren’t in the interview “hot seat” which is why preparation and practice are so important.

Prepare.  Research the job and the company to identify the important attributes and competencies for the job.  These might be things like financial analytics, teamwork, project management, or leadership.  Once you know these competencies, you can develop answers that highlight your experience related to each one.

Practice.  The approach sounds easy, but it’s easy to start talking without a sense of direction and completely lose track of your outline, consequently losing your listener.  Jot down notes and practice answering the questions aloud so you can edit your response well in advance of the interview.


Happy interviewing!

Posted on February 7, 2016 and filed under Interview Prep.