Your University Name    the Competitive Edge

with Alan Carniol

When you are called for a job interview, some common questions asked are:

  • “Tell me about a time when” – Is a behavioral type of question that could be part of different questions asked or a series of behavioral questions.
  • “What would you do if” – Is a situational type of question.
Both should be or best answered by telling a story. It is what the interviewers are looking for as evidence that you have the experience, knowledge, skills and capabilities they need. It will be a way for them to assess if you can do the job.

The 2 questions mentioned above are just part of the many common questions during an interview but these questions fall in to 9 buckets:
  • Solved a problem
  • Overcame a challenge
  • Took the Initiative
  • Made a mistake
  • Worked as a leader
  • Worked with a team
  • Did something Interesting
  • Accepted Feedback
  • Managed Conflict
All these nine (9) questions fall under three (3) talent categories:
  • People
  • Problem Solving
  • Technical
The interviewer will be looking for either one, two or all three categories in the answers or the story-based response/s that you will give. It is advised by Alan Carniol to research, interview other people and think about what kind of skills in terms of people, problem solving and tech do they (company) want you to have and based your stories on that. You can base your stories from your essays you wrote, class projects, internships you took and volunteer work.

The questions being asked by the interviewer can either have a positive or negative version.
The trick to answering these questions is to lead the interviewer through your journey and not just provide the end result. It should involve the following:
  • Early stage of the experience
  • Steps you take
  • Overcoming challenges
  • How you reached the final stage - success or failure
No matter what format is used – STAR ( Situation, Task, Action, Result) or PAR (Problem-Action-Result)it uses the same story format of story telling. This story model is used for thousands of years including every movie in Hollywood. Joseph Campbell describes it as a universal model. Alan Carniol mentions that the human brain loves this story model framework and retains story information better.

Alan Carniol used “Star Wars” as an example of a story-based experience that takes you on a journey (steps 1 until the end):
  • Situation – What is the job or scenario (Farm boy working on a land).
  • Assignment – What is the assignment/project given/mistake you made (deliver the secret plan that could save the galaxy).
  • What are the risks for success and failure (save the galaxy).
  • Research and get more information about the assignment (OB-Wan educates Luke).
  • Challenges – You start your journey and face challenges along the way. It could be sucessful or it could fail (Escape the spaceport, rescue the princess, escape the trash compactor).
  • Crisis – Provide the details of the different challenges and how you worked through it (Escape from Death Star with a plan).
  • Gains - What are your contributions and what you have learned (We have the plans).
  • Victory – How you survived from the challenges, learnings and success. (Blow up the Death Star).
  • Celebrations – Share and provide details of your success (The force is with you always).
End of Journey!

Expert BIO

Alan Carniol is the creator of the Interview Success Formula. Through his websites, workshops and one-on-one counseling, he has trained over thirty thousand job seekers to craft persuasive interview answers, find their confidence, and win the jobs they desire and deserve. He has an MBA from the Yale School of Management.