Job interviews are a huge question mark for many people. There are certain best practices that are considered common knowledge, such as appropriate attire, follow-up etiquette, and general professionalism, but since each interview process and individual hiring manager is so different, there are no magic words out there that will ensure a callback every time. However, there is a simple “secret” formula to answering interview questions that is going to give you a huge leg up. The method can be summed up simply as a four-step system: identify, analyze, develop, and implement. Using this formula to address questions is the quickest way to show a hiring manager where you have actually put your skills and experience to good use.
Identify: Start out by describing a specific need or problem that you positively identified. This shows that you are savvy enough not only to come up with solutions as directed, but also to proactively seek out areas where attention is needed.
Analyze: Briefly describe any analysis you conducted to determine what needed to be done to fix the problem. Keep it brief, but use it as a place to prove that you’re capable of actualizing things and not just talking about them theoretically. This shows that you’re thorough and take a methodical approach to understanding how your efforts will impact your business.
Develop: This is the meat of the matter. Describe what steps you took to develop a workable solution to the issue. This will show hiring managers that you are capable of not only identifying potential problems, but that you’re also the on to call on to solve them.
Implement: The implementation stage is perhaps the most critical. Up until now, much of the work may have been done independently, but to take a solution live within your company requires buy-in from everyone involved. Describe the process you used to roll out your solution and what the outcome was.
You can tweak your answer to speak to the focus of the hiring manager and the scope of the job you’re interviewing for. For instance, if there is a heavy emphasis on leading a team, mentioning that you brought in coworkers or delegated responsibilities as you went through this process will help you highlight that skill. Using this formula to answer questions is a great way to show that you not only have the experience necessary to do the job, but that you’ve actually been successful at doing it in the past. This shouldn’t be the default answer for all questions, though. Use the identify, analyze, develop, and implement format too often and you’ll come off sounding rehearsed and robotic. It is, however, the perfect way to answer a question that begins, “give an example of a time when you…”
This is a great method to use to get yourself thinking of results-based examples that give hiring managers concrete reasons to hire you. Many interviewees have the tendency to rattle off their job descriptions, which is not only boring but also wholly unenlightening. It’s one thing to tell an interviewer what you were supposed to do, but entirely another to give them detailed examples of what you’ve actually done. It’s a great way to slip in specific experience called for on the job description without it seeming awkward or heavy-handed. The more you practice this method, the easier it will become to employ. This format can be put into practice on resumes as well, if you choose to highlight specific times when you’ve made a positive impact. Hiring managers respond very well when they get the sense that you’re not only capable of doing the job on paper, but that you’ve really worked out those muscles in the past and have a successful track record to show for it. These aren’t magic words, but they’re pretty close.