Most of recruiters use behavioural questions during job interview in order to get an idea if you have the skills and competences that match with the needed profile.

The rationale behind is that if they know how you performed in the past it will help them to get an idea of how you might do in the future.

Be ready to tell stories that illustrates your past performance. There are some common acronyms used in conveying a specific sequence of job-related that will help you to remember the scripts. The trick of using acronyms is that the first letters will help you to recall your story-telling during an interview. Acronyms are mind-maps to keep you focused and on track.

Here are the most common:

CAB: Challenge – Action – Behaviour
PAR: Problem – Action – Result
STAR: Situation/Task – Action – Result
SPARE: Situation/Problem – Action – Result – Enthusiasm
SBO: Situation – Behavior – Outcome

These acronyms remind you to include the important parts of your story — in a chronological sequence. Consider them a template when scripting your stories. Every story has a beginning, middle and end. Naturally, all parts are essential for a complete story.

  • The Beginning — Why you did it: The reason, problem, task or situation.
  • The Middle — How you did it: The action part of your story.
  • The End — What was the outcome or result: The end of the story.

Whenever you are asked for an illustration of your past work, such as, “Tell me about a time when…” or “Can you give me an example…,” think of it as your cue to tell a story, using an acronym.

The Story

If you are asked during the interview, “Tell me about a time when you had to handle an angry customer?”

To be effective, you need to cite a specific example of a past work success. Use an acronym to recall the details of your experience and move the story from beginning to end. Let’s use the acronym PAR:

Problem/Situation: “A customer called and was upset about his bill and the extra charges on his account. He was yelling and calling me names.”

Action: “The first thing I did was let him talk and get it all out. When he began to calm down, I let him know that I understood his problem. I asked for additional information to make sure I had all the facts. I told him I would call him back within three hours. I then researched his account and the reasons for the extra charges. I did find some errors and presented them to my boss with a recommendation for rectifying the problem. My boss agreed with my findings. I called the customer back and let him know that the problem had been resolved.”

Result: “The customer was impressed with my efficient handling of the situation. He apologized for yelling and for taking his frustration out on me. He even offered to send my boss an email regarding my excellent customer service and follow-through.”

Notice that all the key parts of the story are there. The point of this account is to demonstrate your successful experience in dealing with irate customers.

Using acronyms to prepare your success stories will make a big difference in your interview performance. An acronym helps you remember the details of the story without having to memorize a scripted version. Use your mental outline and follow the pattern.