Alice into the Rabbit Hole – Bring Your Interviewer In

Telling the compelling storyI was reviewing a few of the sample questions on HRinterviews , but didn’t see my favorite:

Take me through an example project or challenge that would be similar to your work here, as you understand it. Give me a few specific examples of how you identified challenges and worked to overcome them.

This is from the family of behavioral questions, designed to learn more about you through your response rather than just hearing your reply. These are not canned response questions, so they merit some reflection before you hit the door.
From BrainCorp,

Behavioral interview questions are designed to present you with the opportunity to give real life examples that best illustrate the competencies required for a position.

While there are several examples to get at different aspects of your ability, I’m always keen on exploring a concrete example that lets me (as a manager) hear how a candidate responded in a specific situation. As a manager, I get to really talk through how candidates would potentially respond to issues in this role as they share real examples from a known and familiar instance.

There are a few acronyms that help guide the planning process, SARI (Situation, Action, Result, and Interesting Features) and SOAR (Situation, Opportunities, Action, Result), that I’ve come across and seem to be useful.

From Google Guy: Ace the behavioral interview” at Brazen Careerist, Jason Warner steps through an example of SARI, which is

Situation: Explain the situation in a way that gives the interviewer context. Less detail is better, but give enough detail to paint the picture.

Action: Here is where you explain what you did. Note that I said you, not we. Referring to the action in terms of the intangible “we” is one of the most common interview mistakes I see. You are the one interviewing, so your answer should describe specific behaviors that you actually did.

Result: Here’s where you share the net result to the business. You should quantify this with numbers or other business metrics, even if they are fudged or fuzzy. It probably goes without saying, but always try to pick an example where the net result was positive. (Hey, you wouldn’t believe the things I’ve heard.)

Interesting Features: This where you tell the interviewer something special and/or memorable about the story, so that they really remember it. If you can, tie it back to competencies to strengthen your answer.

Similarly, SOAR stories from breaks it down this way,

Situations. Describe a job by reviewing the situation when you began, making it interesting.

Opportunities. Then bring up information about the opportunities that the job presented. Here’s an example of what we mean by Situation/Opportunity. “When I joined the firm, sales had been declining for three consecutive years. Knowing the firm’s markets, I saw the opportunity to target new areas.”

Actions. Next, move to actions taken by you and others (the team). We believe that these actions are the most important part of the SOAR process.

Results. Then relate what results occurred.

However you choose to tackle it, remember that you are working to make a positive, lasting impression that “sells” you as the best candidate. If you are funny, be a little funny. If you are visual, take the opportunity to draw a quick sketch if it helps move your story along.

Above all, use this opportunity to be the best version of the real you in your real-life example using the skills that will be critical to this job.

You don’t want to land an offer if it will suck the life out of you, and you don’t want to move just to move.

A few pointers that make lasting impressions:

  • Remember that your tale is a new story for this audience. They want you to step through it in enough detail to help them understand. This is storytelling 101 stuff: the task, trials in completing the task, achieving the goal, and application of what has been learned. This is stuff we already know and have been hearing since we were little, and Joseph Campbell spent a lifetime exploring.
  • Be sure your lessons will relate to this specific opportunity. Great lessons that are better suited to another functional area or opportunity could be limiting, particularly at this early stage.
  • The story you tell should be an early and clear sign of what your personal brand will represent. We’ve all got great stories from our past, but you have a brand you are building, and want to give them a very clear preview of who you will be and how you will interact in this role.

Be clear, crisp and compelling. Your next great thing may be riding on it.

This entry was posted in Branding, Career, Execution, Reflection. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Alice into the Rabbit Hole – Bring Your Interviewer In

  1. Rick Turoczy says:

    Clear, crisp, compelling… and confident.

    Don’t forget how off-putting the stench of desperation can be.

    All of this interviewing and posturing is for naught if you don’t exude a certain amount of confidence. But, I think the prep tips you’re providing will instill that confidence in the interviewee.

  2. Toby Lucich says:

    Nice addition. Thanks for the add – I want to hire (and work for) those that exude confidence, and assume they can back it up.

    If it doesn’t come across early, it isn’t naturally assumed to pop up down the road.

  3. Pingback: Lit L Hop Rabbitry » Blog Archive » The Putrid Pal #3 - Rabbit

  4. Pingback: Interview Prep - Get your Story Put Together | More than a living

  5. Anna says:

    this was so helpful

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