- September 10, 2020
- Posted by: Dan Trudeau
- Category: Interview Tips
Crushing Your Interview with Success Stories
When you’re interviewing for a new position, chances are you’re up against other candidates with resumes that read much like yours. They’ll have worked in similar positions, with matching responsibilities and skills. How can you stand out?
Your accomplishments are unique to you and show you’ll succeed under tough circumstances. If you can tie these to the interviewing company’s challenges, and goals, they’ll feel confident you’re the one for the job.
Everyone loves a good story, and your success stories frame your accomplishments in a way that gets your interviews involved on an emotional level. You want them excited about the prospect of you doing the same thing for them. You’re on stage when interviewing, so perfect your storytelling. Every story has a beginning, middle, and end. For your success stories, this becomes the SAR approach. It stands for Situation, Action, and Result.
You’re on stage when interviewing, so perfect your storytelling. Every story has a beginning, middle, and end. For your success stories, this becomes the SAR approach. It stands for Situation, Action, and Result.
You start by setting the stage, laying out the problem you had to solve. You need to break down:
- The nature of the problem.
- The specific circumstances that created it.
- What you were up against to solve the problem.
- The consequences of failure.
As an example, Monica is interviewing for a new position in her field. She’s asked her interviewer what their biggest challenge is.
“Our biggest headache, Monica, has been meeting customer deadlines.”
“That issue came up in my earlier position as well. The customer timeline was unrealistic, and they wouldn’t flex. One of our sales reps told them we could to it before checking with us. They represented 27% of our company’s revenue, so we couldn’t afford to let them down. The original project manager, Jeremy, had quit in frustration, so my manager tossed it to me.”
You’ve set it up, established the stakes, and now you move to…
This is where you break down the solution, and how you created it. You need to highlight your ability to solve complex issues through:
- Hard work
- Positive energy
Continuing on Monica’s SAR story:
“Over the last several years, I’d made note of team members who’d shown creativity during stressful situations. Most hadn’t been noticed by upper management, so they were often left out of key decisions. I brought them into the project, telling them it was an opportunity to get some positive recognition with the upper brass. Others at the company looked at us as a team of misfits. We decided we liked that, as it made the project feel more fun.
“I leveraged their insight on how to cut inefficiencies no one else had noticed. We worked crazy hours for three weeks to implement them. We were happy to work that hard because we were confident it would work.”
You’ve laid out your plan of attack, leading to the…
This is the exciting climax to your story. The main elements are:
- The outcome.
- The positive impact it had on your company.
- How you were recognized for your work.
Wrapping up Monica’s story…
“We were able to meet what had seemed an impossible deadline through the solutions we created. It saved our relationship with that client. Even better, the company spread our new processes throughout the company. It streamlined the whole operation, leading to results that brought more business in the door. Almost all the members of our “misfit team” were moved to higher-level positions, including me.”
By laying out the bottom-line impact of your solution, you’ll get the interviewers excited about the differences you could make at their organization too.
It’s important to work out SAR stories before every interview. At the same time, you need to learn the structure well enough so you can also tell them on the fly. It’s impossible to predict everything you’ll be asked, and you may think of new examples on the spot. Make storytelling second nature to yield positive results.
PRA USA has 30+ years of experience not only in helping candidates interview but to do everything necessary to manage a successful career. Our focus in recruiting for Electronic, Embedded, and Controls has also allowed us to build a network you can use to move forward. Contact us to let us know what we can do for you.