An image of students and employers conversing during the Miami University Career Fair 2015. An image of students and employers conversing during the Miami University Career Fair 2015.

C.A.R. Method

Use the C.A.R. method to help you frame your response. That is:

  • C = Context
  • A = Action Taken
  • R = Results

Your responses to questions should provide the context (background) of a specific situation (the story), the actions you took and the results you achieved. Your ability to provide appropriately detailed answers to interviewers’ questions will give you a substantial advantage over candidates who give more general answers. Become a great storyteller during your interview, but be careful not to ramble. Here is an example:

Interview Question: Describe a recent situation in which you successfully persuaded others of your point of view.

  • Context
  • Action Taken
  • Results

"In my public speaking class, I was called upon to develop a brief impromptu presentation. I was asked to convince my peers in the class to agree to come in on a Saturday morning to hear outside speakers during a panel discussion. This was an actual upcoming event sponsored by the Department of Communication. I thought for a few minutes, developed my rationale, took a deep breath and stood up to speak to the class.

"I made a strong proposal and supported it with logical reasons, including the networking contacts we could make and the knowledge we would gain about jobs in our field. This was difficult to do, since most of us like to sleep in on Saturday if we can! While I was not able to persuade everyone, roughly half the class came to the panel discussion that Saturday. My instructor said it was the best turnout she had ever had for this event. I believe my arguments had something to do with its success."

By using the C.A.R. method, you ensure that you are providing a thorough response. Be especially diligent in articulating the results! Don’t be surprised if the interviewer probes further for more depth or detail. Finally, be careful  —  if you tell a story that is anything but totally honest, your response will not hold up through a barrage of probing questions. An excellent way to get ready for behavioral interviews is to prepare a small arsenal of example stories that can be adapted to many behavioral questions.

Identify six to eight examples from your past where you demonstrate key characteristics that employers typically seek. Think of examples from classes and school projects, activities, internships, athletic team participation, community service, hobbies and/or work experiences. Also consider examples of any special accomplishments. Wherever possible, provide a measurable result (e.g., increased donations by 10% over last year). Since some questions try to get at how you responded to negative situations, you’ll want to have one or two examples of negative experiences ready, but try to pick ones with positive outcomes or where you learned from the experience.