How To Answer Interview Questions

Filed under Career | Posted by PMStudent

Sampath wrote me recently asking what to do.

He’s been getting feedback from hiring managers that he’s ‘being too technical’ in interviews for business analyst/project manager roles.

I’ve seen this before.

A Good Story

The best way to answer any interview question is with an example from your past. <- Click to tweet this quote

Of course there are some questions where this doesn’t make sense, for instance “Why do you want to come work for us?”

But many of the questions are going to be behavioral in nature – they are trying to assess your professionalism, personality, etc.

Good stories are engaging and make interviewers remember you. They are also excellent at illustrating your actual history and building more trust and reliability.

A good story has the following minimum components:

  1. Where – Set the stage. What company did this happen at?
  2. Who – Who are the characters in your story? You don’t have to use names, roles are fine.
  3. Context/Background – Finish setting the stage for the story. Whatever is relevant.
  4. What Happened – What was the major issue or turning point? How did you handle it?
  5. Outcome – Don’t leave them hanging, how does the story end?

(stupid YouTube screenshot – it looks like I’m doing some bad dance moves) – Use this strategy to prepare for interview questions and get your interviewers engaged with your answers!


In the Project Management Career Course I recommend taking the list of common interview questions and writing out a true story from your past that addresses it.

This is not only a great interview preparation technique, but also a way to remember all the great things you’ve done and give your ego a boost.

Continually update these questions and answers in the form of stories.

Review them prior to any interview, so they are on the top of your mind.

Technical or Not

One of the biggest problems I’ve had as a hiring manager is getting vague answers from candidates.

When it’s hard to tell if the candidate has ever really experienced something, or if they are just making things up in the conversation.

That is why I got into the habit of asking all applicable questions in the form of “Tell me about a time” – I know many people are not very good at interviewing, and this helped me get to know them better.

The most frustrating thing was when I would ask questions in this manner, and the candidate would STILL give these vague “I think I would…” answers. <- Click to tweet this quote

Even if your experience isn’t exactly what is being asked for in the question, I bet you have some example that is pretty darn close.

That’s OK.

You should feel free to tell the interviewer that while you don’t have experience with that specific scenario, here’s a related one.

And sometimes you’ll have to add in the “I think I would…” answer if necessary.

Go Do It Now

Even if you don’t buy my career coaching now, (which you should) you can still go do this right now.

Following the advice in this video and post will improve your chances of nailing those interviews and landing the job that advances your career.

Leave a comment or follow up question below and let’s discuss this topic further.