May 24, 2013
There is a secret to acing your interview. It’s what will set you apart from your competition. The secret is in your PAR stories.
PAR is an acronym for Problem, Action and Result. A PAR story is a problem you encountered in your previous job, the action you took to solve it and the results. PAR stories answer behavioral questions like, tell me a time when and how would you handle this situation.
How to create your PAR story.
Problem: Briefly describe the situation in a couple of sentences. Action: Explain what you did to solve the problem. If you were a part of a team, highlight your actions. Results: Show the results of your actions. Achievements expressed as dollars or percentages are more powerful than simply stating the facts.
Here is an example of a PAR story:
Problem: the postage rates were rising quickly and the company was looking for ways to reduce postage expenses. Knowing that postage costs would continue to increase, something had to be done to keep expenses down. They couldn’t stop all mailings, so a solution was needed. There were three schedules involved. Some families needed more than one schedule.
Action: I took a look at the mailing list and found that some households were getting up to 6 schedules each in their own envelope and postage. I consolidated the schedules onto one sheet of paper and mailed one piece of paper to each household. Households with email access were sent the schedule by email.
Result: By consolidating the schedules and mailing only one schedule per household and emailing to others, the savings were about 30%. The information was delivered using fewer envelopes, paper, and postage. The manager was happy to have the information distributed using fewer resources.
This story demonstrates a claim on the resume of process improvement and costs savings. Describing the situation and the results of the action taken by the employee, the interviewer understood how this person can save money in a similar situation. Henry Ford said, “You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.” PAR stories confirm your value to your prospective employer.
Take some time to look at your career and develop PAR stories that validate claims you have made on your resume. In doing so, you describe your unique selling proposition to confirm that you are the best candidate for the position.