Academy Award Winning Interviewee
Are you an Academy Award®-Winning Interviewee?
As a recruiter, I enjoy interviewing candidates…for the most part. I love hearing about “your” story and evaluating how your experience and skill sets can be matched to my clients’ needs. Unfortunately, not everyone is a good story teller. So, I wanted to use this forum to offer my opinion on the ways I (and I assume other recruiters) would prefer interviewees to answer, when they are asked behavioral questions
during an interview
So rather than break into a long narrative on interview techniques, I want to lay it out in the simplest of terms. Recruiters want to be entertained. Is your “story” exciting enough to stay in the memory of the recruiter after they have mentally blended your interview presentation with those of numerous other potential candidates?
Allow me to back up and take you on a small journey. American movie watchers are somewhat trained to expect a certain series of events to be scripted within any major motion picture. For a script to be taken seriously, a screenwriter is expected follow a certain format. Americans expect a screenplay to be in three acts. Act one is the set up, an introduction to the characters, the tone and the conflict. Act two is the main concept of the story, and act three is your resolution. Movies are now so standardized, that they will have the same Sequence of events at the same time. For example, most major action scenes take place at the 60 minute mark in a 120 minute movie or the hero will reach the lowest point at the 90 minute mark. Interestingly enough, if a movie misses these marks, it will be perceived as being slow or off.
Recruiters can be like a movie audience. If you don’t frame an answer in the way we expect, we may perceive your answer as “off”. The point of this is that as recruiters, we are expecting a certain format. As a candidate you need to answer questions in a manner that won’t “tune out” your audience. So when you are asked a question, stay on point (avoid filler) and answer the question that was asked. I recommend that you do this in “three acts.” I personally use what I call the SAR (Situation, Action and Results) approach. This is essentially a modification of the S.T.A.R.
approach, where I have combined the “situation” and the “task”. First set the scene by giving the situation. Next, explain what action was taken. Finally give the results.
An example would be the following question:
Recruiter – Please give me an example of how you have achieved a set goal.
Interviewee – I set myself the goal to be an extra on the HBO’s Game of Thrones series. I took acting lessons and rehearsed incessantly for an audition. I auditioned and was offered a part of a villager corpse (for those who watch GOT, this would be impressive (Spoiler alert!) as most characters end up like this).
As you can see, you have addressed whatever the recruiter was trying to extract by answering the question in three, succinct, acts. Having such answers helps to reveal that you have some experience from which to draw your responses, and that you have put time and thought into your career. Preparation is key. With these types of questions, I am often assessing whether or not the candidate has given serious consideration to self-reflection or at least can think on their feet.
Proposed takeaway: Anticipate and practice responding to potential questions. Think of the honest experiences you have that make YOU interesting and unique. Share these with the interviewer so that you stand out. Who knows, with enough rehearsing, you too can walk away with an Oscar (or a job)!