The three story approach to a job interview

Sharing a really great tip from inreptech on reddit (original thread) on what could probably be the #1 tip for interview prep.


This seems like a good time to throw in my all-purpose interview advice for college grads: well before the interview, come up with three legit stories about projects you did in college, preferably group projects, and practice telling them to a friend or somebody. Then, in the interview, tell those three stories regardless of what question they ask you.

Like, say one of your stories is about a group project to implement a chess engine. Not impressive, probably not relevant to the job, but better than nothing. So:

Q “Tell us about a time you exhibited leadership”

A “Well, I had to take a leadership role in directing the efforts of three partners in my senior project chess engine, in which I….”
Q “Tell us about a time you had to deal with personality conflicts.”

A “Well, there were quite a few disagreements among my partners in my senior chess project, in which I…”
Q “What’s your favorite text editor?” ”

A I really enjoyed using Notepad++ in my senior project, in which I…”
Q”Tell me why I should hire you when you’re obviously hung over and wearing two left shoes.”

A “Well, if you don’t hire me, you’d be missing out on the skills I learned while leading my senior project implementing a chess engine, in which I…”
You get the idea. Point is, don’t go in there and hope to come up with answers on the fly. 75% of interview questions basically reduce to “tell us a story about a project you worked on”, so have a couple ready to go and you’ll do great.

Some other smashing tips in the thread, don’t forget to check it out.

I remember going for my very first interview back in 2003, and flunking it horribly because my mind went blank. Regardless of whether you have three stories or not, rehearsal is important, folks. Always practice, and don’t be afraid to take in critique from friends and family on how you fare.

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