CTM #009 - Oct 2023, Simple Interview Prep Strategy

Dec 04, 2023

Effective Interview Preparation (5 Min Read)

Hi Everyone,

In this month’s edition of CTM, we’ll be reviewing a simple framework for preparing answers to structured interview questions; one I’ve personally used to land roles in tech.

Now, this won’t be a comprehensive overview (way too long for a newsletter) – instead, we’ll focus on an approach anyone can use to prepare value-packed answers to ANY question.

We’ll even talk about generating a ‘Cheat Sheet’ that you can bring with you to the interview.

Let’s jump in.

Step 1. Print Out the Job Description

Assuming you’ve already applied, been selected, and moved through a phone screen…it’ll be time for you to interview prep. This is where we’ll pick up.

The first, and simplest step of our method, is to locate the job description (JD) and print it out (or just save a copy).

The JD is the best artifact we have to decode what the hiring audience wants, before talking with the recruiter or manager. It describes the basic and preferred qualifications for the job, but it also (usually) talks about the ideal candidate for the position; including descriptions of character, culture, and soft skills.

You want to be the ideal candidate.


2. Print Out the ‘Company Leadership Principles’ or ‘Corporate Value’

Locate the corporate value/principles page and print/save it.

Google has 10 Corporate Values, and Amazon has 16 Leadership Principles. You’re looking for the “thing” that drives culture and behavior at the firm. If smaller companies don’t have anything like this posted, this would be another great question for the recruiting team you’re interacting with.


3. Find Your Career Log or ‘Extended’ Resume

Find the ‘thing’ (maybe it’s a career log, an old resume, or even your LinkedIn profile) where you keep all of your detailed experiences, results, and deliverables.

Grab/print a copy of this as well.   

4. Create Your ‘Cheat Sheet’ with Micro-Narratives

At this point, you’ve got 3 pieces of paper (or files) in front of you. Time to get to work.

The assessment rubric for the interview (completed by the interviewer) is likely to follow some combination of the JD (for technical or hard skills) and the ‘corporate values’ (for soft skills or cultural fit). Most established tech firms use a practice similar to this.

Your best bet as a candidate is to present examples that PROVE you have the hard experiences, and soft skills and character traits they’ve asked for.

Enter “Micro-narratives”.

These are the foundations of the prep framework we use to produce high-quality answers to structured interview questions. High-quality answers are what help separate our clients from the competition and improve the likelihood of getting an offer.

Take another blank piece of paper (or Word doc) and open it up.

Over the next several hours or even days, your goal will be to fill this piece of paper with 20-30 micro-narratives that you’ll be able to use during a real interview. Micro-narratives (a term coined by our Broda Coaching team) are essentially structured “starting points” to help you effectively answer interview questions that arise.

Micro-narratives are brief, 2-4 sentence long examples from your past or present work experience that highlight:

  1. Your technical abilities to perform some aspects of the JD.
  2. Your leadership capacity or character traits demonstrate you’re a good fit for the culture.
  3. Some combination of 1 & 2.

Micro-narratives are brief (even abbreviated in some cases), as they are not intended to be memorized or read aloud in an actual interview. They exist simply for your reference, to assist you as you explain full-length narratives to the hiring team using the STAR format.

Micro-narratives follow an abbreviated P-A-R format, which stands for Problem, Action, and Result. The entire purpose of this micro-narrative exercise is to get your brain thinking about an action/result format (we teach the STAR method for real interview answers) before the interview ever starts, and to fill a piece of paper with useful examples you’ll pull from in real-time.

Give it a shot. The simple practice of writing these narratives will be a fantastic prep course.

Plus, the piece of paper you fill out with all of your micro-narratives will be an excellent resource to take with you into the interview!


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