What Is The CAR Interview Method? (With Sample Responses)
Interviewers might ask behavioral questions to evaluate if you are the right fit for the role and the workplace culture. The CAR technique is a popular method to give concise and compelling answers to behavioral interview questions. It helps you provide a comprehensive and impactful response by describing a workplace challenge, your action and the result. In this article, we answer the question, ‘What is the car interview method?’ and explain how to answer questions using this technique and share responses to popular interview questions using this methodology.
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What is the CAR interview method?
Knowing the answer to the question, ‘What is the CAR interview method?’ can help you provide impressive responses to behavioral interview questions. The CAR interview method is a popular response technique that helps you frame your answers in a structured manner by describing a specific challenge, circumstance or context, followed by the action you took and explaining how your method delivered the right results. The acronym CAR stands for:
- Challenge/circumstance/context: A challenge, project or circumstance that you faced in your previous role
- Action: The steps you took to rectify and solve the challenge
- Result: Explains the results of your action
The CAR technique is a compelling way to explain how you handle specific challenges and other difficult situations at work. It helps answer interview questions via personal anecdotes and scenarios that allow the interviewer to know more about your personality, skills and abilities. This method is similar to the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) and PAR (Problem, Action, Result) methodologies of answering interview questions.
How to answer interview questions using the CAR technique
You can follow this step-by-step process to frame the best answers to the interviewer’s questions using the CAR technique:
1. Highlight a suitable example
The CAR interview technique works best when you structure your answer using a relevant anecdote. Prepare a list of success stories and examples from your previous professional experiences that you can adapt to different behavioural questions. It is also a good idea to browse standard interview question lists so that you can prepare anecdotes for a few common questions. During the interview, you can say, ‘This is an interesting question. Can I take a few minutes to think about my answer?’ to think of an example that best fits the question.
2. Explain the context
Once you have selected the anecdote, start your answer by explaining the context. It can be a particular circumstance or a challenge that you overcame. Keep the context brief and provide only the essential details. For example, if the interviewer asks, ‘Can you tell us about a time when you achieved a challenging goal?’ you can begin the answer as, ‘In my previous role as a digital marketer, a client wanted us to increase their list of email subscribers within a month. The short deadline was my biggest challenge in executing the campaign.’
3. Describe your action
The action portion of the answer helps you explain how you handled a particular situation. This helps to highlight your skills and suitability for the role. Provide details of the techniques, tools or methodology you used to overcome a specific challenge or achieve a goal. For the above example, you can frame the answer as, ‘Since we had to execute the campaign within a short period, I suggested we offer time-bound incentives for customers to get them to subscribe immediately. Next, I worked with the design team to carry out A/B testing to find the optimal design for the newsletter.’
4. Finish with the result
Once you have explained how you made a positive difference, the next step is to share the results of your action. You can use numbers and facts to quantify the impacts of your action. Continuing with the above example, you can complete your answer by saying, ‘As a result of these initiatives, we increased the client’s subscriber list from 500 to 7000+ subscribers within a month. Besides new sign-ups, the client also saw a 20% increase in conversions after the campaign.’
Examples of interview questions with CAR answers
Here are a few common behavioural interview questions with sample answers using the CAR methodology:
1. Describe a previous work situation where you received recognition for your efforts
Challenge/Context/Circumstances: ‘Previously, I worked as a junior graphics design intern at a marketing company, responsible for
organising local events. I noticed that event attendance had dropped by 40% over the last three years. Though event attendance was not my primary responsibility, I took on the challenge of improving the attendance numbers. Action: I designed a marketing packet that we sent out to several businesses in the community. We included a rating sheet and promotional material collecting feedback from business owners on previous events. Using the feedback, we were able to identify our flaws and rectify them before the next event. Result: The subsequent event was a huge success and attendance increased by 20% compared to the previous year. My manager appreciated my efforts and initiative, offering me a permanent role at the end of the internship.’
2. Can you give us an example of how you tackle unforeseen situations at work?
Challenge/Context/Circumstances: ‘In a previous job, our team had to deliver a presentation to a prospective client about our new product.
Unfortunately, the person responsible for delivering the presentation fell sick and could not report to work on the presentation day. As the team manager, I took on the responsibility to tackle this unforeseen situation.
Action: I explained the situation to the client and requested them if we could do the presentation a couple of hours later. Simultaneously, I helped a couple of my other team members get familiar with the initial presentation. Result: Fortunately, we did a good job and we were able to convert the prospect into a paying client.’
3. Describe a situation where you demonstrated your leadership skills
Challenge/Context/Circumstances: ‘At one of my previous jobs, the sales team had been experiencing decreasing sales for the last few quarters. As a marketing team manager with proven success, the senior management asked me to step in as the sales team leader and help them achieve their targets. Action: Though I was new to the role, I took on the challenge voluntarily. Over six months, I introduced several sales initiatives, including setting measurable and specific sales targets for each sales rep on the team, introducing weekly review meetings to analyse and discuss the team’s progress, altering the sales methodology to suit the requirements of each prospect and implementing an individualised sales training program. Result: Due to these structured leadership initiatives, we increased sales volumes by 40% and exceeded sales targets by 20% in the first quarter since I took on the role of sales manager. The sales team was also able to continue on an upward trajectory for the rest of the year.’
4. How would you rate your organisational skills?
Challenge/Context/Circumstances: ‘I consider myself a highly organised person at work. To give an example, in one of my previous roles, I had to organise a national-level conference for 5000 delegates. It was a huge event and required the highest level of planning and attention to detail. Action: Using my meticulous organisational skills, I started planning the event by building a list of activities and corresponding execution timelines. I created a massive spreadsheet with details and deadlines and shared it with the rest of the event planning committee. I also set up daily email and phone reminders to keep track of specific tasks. This detailed planning helped us ensure that everything proceeded according to schedule without delays. Result: The event proceeded smoothly and received excellent feedback from attendees and other organisers. As a result of the event’s success, my employer promoted me as the leader of the event planning team.’
5. Can you give an example of how you adapt to situations?
Challenge/Context/Circumstance: ‘Earlier in my career, I received a job offer that required me to relocate to a different state. One of my primary responsibilities was to interact with and win local clients. Though I was familiar with the local language, I was not highly proficient in it. Action: I had around three months before joining the role. During this time, I took the initiative to improve my skills in the local language by attending online courses after work. I also sought the help of friends and colleagues who are natives of that language to practise my new skills. Result: Thanks to my adaptability and extra efforts to learn the language, I interacted confidently with local prospects and converted them into clients. I increased the company’s revenue by 7% by acquiring several big clients within the first three months of joining the position.’
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