Challenge Action Result: CAR statements Part 2

CAR statements can help you confidently navigate behavioral interview questions!

Unlike some of the traditional interview questions you’re prepared to smack out of the park, like “what is your greatest strength” or “why do you want to work here,” behavioral interview questions aren’t served up like “softballs.” Although everyone preparing for an interview should be ready for standard questions such as those, employers are increasingly asking behavioral interview questions that require more dynamic answers, drawing on specific examples from your past experience.

The purpose of behavioral interview questions is to predict a potential candidate’s ability to be successful in a job based on their past performance or behavior. With these questions, interviewers attempt to draw out stories about the candidate’s real-life experience to illustrate their ability to perform specific functions of the position they seek to fill.

Here are some examples of behavioral interview questions:

  • This job requires the ability to make quick decisions in high-pressure situations. Give an example from your past when you had to make a quick decision under lots of pressure.
  • Discuss a time when you were given an assignment where you had no prior experience or training. How did you go about learning what you needed to get the job done? What was the outcome?
  • How do you deal with conflict? Discuss a time when you managed a conflict among team members.

Behavioral questions such as these come in various forms, focusing on a wide variety of skills, behaviors, and experience. Developing a core group of Challenge Action Result (CAR) statements that highlight a range of skills and experience, gained through 4-H or other extracurricular or work related activities, will prepare you to confront potential “curveball” questions with targeted stories that demonstrate your qualifications.

Consider taking the following steps to create targeted CAR statements when preparing for a specific job interview:

  • Review the job announcement, focusing on listed responsibilities or duties and the required and preferred qualifications or experience.
  • Look for keywords, used throughout the announcement, to help identify the skills and experience your CAR statements should highlight.
  • For each responsibility or experience requirement, think about examples from your past work, volunteer or other experience that relate and write them down.
  • Using the examples you wrote down, create CAR statements that concisely discuss the challenges you faced, the actions you took and the resulting outcomes using keywords and language from the job announcement.
  • Once you have written and reviewed your CAR statements, practice telling these as stories to become comfortable with them in conversation.

Depending on your experience, you may have many short CAR stories that each highlight a specific skill or experience from the job announcement, or you may have a few detailed CAR stories that cover a wide range of the requisite skills and experience.

As a final note, putting your statements down on paper is only a tool to organize your thoughts and refine your ability to discuss your experience professionally. The important thing is to understand the value you bring to the job you are interviewing for and be able to express it conversationally. Through the development of CAR statements, you will increase awareness of your experience and gain confidence in your ability to express it in an interview.

For more resources and materials related to interviewing, visit the Michigan State University Extension webpage on career preparation.

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