Once you’ve made it to an actual interview for your next position, the challenge, among others, is to explain how you achieved your business results from your work. I advocate the CAR method – Context, Actions, and Results. Here is the context of the work needed, here are the actions I took to get the work done, and, because of the work, we achieved these business results.
The problem here is that interviewers don’t ask the right questions so you can easily slip into this great answering approach. It’s not that they don’t want to know how you achieved your results from your work, it’s that they don’t know how to ask about the work you do. They know their business; they don’t know your business, how it works, what products are produced, how you are organized and how you fit in.
Because interviewers don’t know about your company and work, you get asked generic questions – What do you do every day? How is your job organized? You get asked responsibility questions, not result questions.
Or you get asked “behavioral” questions – “Tell me about a time you ran into a rock and had to recover…” Personally, I think behavioral questions were invented because interviewers didn’t know what to ask in order to figure out if a candidate knew how to do the work.
Those types of questions are not satisfying for either the interviewer or the interviewee – you.
How do you start this "results questioning" during the interview?
It starts back on the resume. Most resumes list job responsibilities and not results. That gets you questions about your responsibilities. You’ll be fortunate to get a position if those are the types of questions asked. So make sure your business results from your work are on the resume. That will at least start you on the path to talking about your business results and talents needed to get them.
The real resume key, though, is this: put one, perhaps two, sentences that provide context for your work so that the interviewer has something to start the conversation along the results path.
It’s easiest to see with a project: “This project was to covert the medical codes to match up with the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.” Then you bullet point the results…how many codes, time for the conversion, number of forms checked, new codes placed to match the ACA.
Instead of saying that you evaluate requirements for a project with no other context, you’ve now provided a perfect way to ask about your work – it’s specific (medical codes), it’s important (the ACA became law and now the company needs to align with it) and it impacts customers (because those codes bring about reimbursement). If you’re in the health care field, believe me, having that one line of context on the resume will result in great questions about your work.
Now the interviewer can start a conversation with you about your work. Now you can respond back with Context, Actions, and Results right into the conversation. You can tell stories that show how you accomplished your results. You can ask great contextual questions back to the interviewer extending the conversation – “Tell me how your company looked at your current systems to line up with the ACA.”
At the end of the day, interviewers (and people) remember stories. They remember that you “get it” while other people don’t. They know you got results from your work, even though they may not remember the specifics without going back to the resume.
All because you took the time to figure out your business results and provided the interviewer a great way to open up questions that focuses directly on your accomplishments on your resume.
How could you help the interviewer to ask great questions to show your work?