Updated: Jun 18
If you’ve watched some of my videos or read my other articles, you’ll see that I’ll often give examples of good interview responses. Especially when it comes to the STAR formatted interview questions, I think it’s really helpful to see a full interview response and how it’s formatted.
Other times I’ll just hit on higher-level concepts that are helpful for creating interview responses that are based on your experiences. I find these tips actually more helpful, as they will help you not only create a good response but be able to adapt your response to the specific interviewer, which is something you’ll want to do and can’t really prepare for so much before the interview.
So does that mean you should just wing it? Well no I don’t quite suggest that.
Great so you should be scripting interview responses and memorizing them! Well, no not that either.
These are kind of the two ends of the spectrum. I’m sure you’ll hear people swear by both of these tactics. When you’re winging it you’re most comfortable and therefore able to really show your authentic self!
On the other hand, when you’ve got all of your answers memorized, you’re the most prepared which comes across in the interview as polished and professional.
Both of these things are true to an extent, but there is a happy medium that I’m going to go over now.
The Balancing Act
Despite what I’ve said, I do recommend that you sit down and write out good responses to each of the most common interview questions. This will also include five good stories in the STAR format for your behavioral questions.
Especially with the behavioral questions, it’s important to write them out ahead of time in the STAR format because it can be very difficult to turn your stories into that format on the fly, even if you’ve got them memorized. Notice here I recommend having five good stories, not necessarily a memorized response to each specific behavioral question. Most of your stories will be able to be modified with little tweaks here and there based on the question asked. Your greatest accomplishment could be the same time you overcame a struggle or had to deal with several tasks.
And that kind of leads into my overall strategy here for planning out your interview questions, and that’s to prepare stories and bullets, not exact responses.
Use Bullets NOT Memorized Answers
When they ask you what you know about this industry and what interests you about it, it’s going to be a little tough if you’ve just memorized an exact answer to why you’re interested in this company. When we memorize a response, we tend to memorize a script from start to finish, and that can make it very difficult to pull different pieces out of and modify it on the fly.
In this example, you should be able to pull out some of the facts about this company that is industry-relevant and be able to utilize those as a foundation when formulating an answer to this question they actually asked.
The solution here is to break up each response into a few key bullets that you can remember easily, so that no matter which version or variation of common interview questions come up, you’ll be able to come up with at least something relevant for anything asked. This makes you a much more dynamic interviewer.
By coming up with a few great STAR formatted behavioral responses, and having a few key bullets for most of the other common interview questions, you’ll be able to face almost anything that the interviewer is going to throw your way, without being bound by a memorized script that only applies to certain interview questions.
This is the approach that I recommend for most of the interview questions that come with several variations, but there are some questions like “tell me about yourself” that is going to be the exact same, every time. And with those, I do think there’s a benefit to creating a well-thought-out response ahead of time and memorizing it. If you’re interested in how you can do that for your next interview, be sure to check out the video below where I break down that infamous interview question into four simple steps to create a memorable response that is sure to help you land your dream job.