Tips on being concise during interviews

Dec 6, 2019 17 Comments

I have a bunch of interviews for EM positions (M1 & L6) lined up soon. I failed on a few screens and first rounds with a few companies mostly due to my general inability to keep my answers (stories) consice and to the point, esp. with behavioral questions.

Any tips on how I can practice being consice but also answer the questions sufficiently?

Writing the answers to potential questions and practicing those answers come to mind, but that has the risk of sounding scripted. STAR method helps, but I tend to keep the S portion a bit too long in the name of giving context 😳

Also, I have a tendency to not smile when I am concentrated which is an extra minus 😬

I guess being aware of the problem is the first step to improving — any additional tips are much appreciated.

Thanks!!!

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TOP 17 Comments
  • AutoZone techchub
    Being specific helps. People tend to ramble when speaking in generalities. Personally, I use CAR not STAR. Challenge, Action, Result. Somehow one less letter makes a big difference for me when framing answers.
    Dec 6, 2019 4
    • Collins Aerospace / Project Z!
      Yeah keeping it SAR or CAR really helps to frame your mind to be precise. Watch good speakers do interviews and see how they do it
      Dec 6, 2019
    • Microsoft babbler
      OP
      Hadn’t heard or SAR or CAR, will practice this framework and see what happens!
      Dec 6, 2019
  • Bank of The West breaktech
    Toastmasters
    Dec 6, 2019 3
    • Bank of The West breaktech
      You can drop into any club as a guest and participate. They are usually very welcoming and provide great feedback, even to a noob.
      Dec 6, 2019
    • Microsoft babbler
      OP
      Didn’t know that, thanks :)
      Dec 6, 2019
  • New / Product patmelrose
    DM me if you want to practice. I have some time off this month and would love to pay it forward.
    Dec 6, 2019 1
    • Microsoft babbler
      OP
      Thanks!
      Dec 7, 2019
  • Amazon / Eng guiced-up
    Just use STAR and keep each component 1-2 sentences (mostly 1). Allow the interviewer to engage you for more details. Rambling on probably seems like you don’t know what you’re saying or that you’d be tiresome to work with given you’re demonstrating a tendency to give long winded answers.
    Dec 6, 2019 1
    • Microsoft babbler
      OP
      Interesting. I always thought giving short answers would sound as if I am not interested in the question or come out very terse. But yes, rambling is worse
      Dec 6, 2019
  • Square ruJbG8
    Rehearse. Rehearse. Rehearse.

    Most questions aren’t curveballs so you should be able to be prepared for anything.

    Practice while you’re alone, with a friend, in the shower, in the shower with a friend. Whatever works best for you.
    Dec 6, 2019 1
    • Microsoft babbler
      OP
      Thanks, I had done this with my college interviews and although I think I came out a bit scripted it had definitely kept me on point. I will keep practicing.
      Dec 6, 2019
  • Google / Eng - Hodor
    The general rule is to answer the given questions with more answers and questions. This keeps the conversation flowing more naturally while keeping you in control of what is said and done.

    For example "I was thinking about doing X and Y which could later lead us to Z. Do you think we can focus on X then go to Y and in the end try to achieve Z if there's time?"
    Dec 6, 2019 0
  • McKinsey TrolBhgvan
    Three bullets to start with, just give the broad so what. People will ask more questions if they want more context
    Dec 6, 2019 0

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