Information quality: Structuring your answers

The common factor is information quality.

If there's any situation where info quality is vitally important, the interview is the defining version of it. You're doing all the others, in one interview.

It's generally agreed in the industry that the storytelling approach is the best way to answer a question.

You have a beginning, a situation, how that situation resolved itself, and a result, preferably a happy ending, in the case of interviews.

You can see why that works. You go from A to B in clear stages, and if anyone gets lost they've got some reference points.

  • The beginning is the concept. It contains the subject.
  • The situation is the plot, and that can be spelled out.
  • The resolution is the plot development, how something was done.
  • The result is the situation after those stages.
  • The happy ending is a sales pitch.

Far more importantly, you don't get lost, either.

It is quite normal for people to get tangled up in their statements, and even contradict themselves. Losing the thread isn't just a figure of speech.

The storytelling method allows you to keep track of the information you're giving the interviewer, and to monitor your own performance. It's an early warning system. You'll find you can tell if you're about to go off the rails and prevent damage.

Remember that this isn't a race.

Pace yourself to answer at a speed where you can keep track.

After all, if you're not sure where you are in an answer, how's the interviewer going to know? Steady is much better. It may seem slow, but it's a lot safer.