Career Advice  

If Only Presidential Debates Were Like Interviews…

If Only Presidential Debates Were Like Interviews… Presidential debates should offer the perfect way for citizens (the interviewers) to determine the qualifications of the candidates (the interviewees). This would work beautifully – if we could get straight answers, that is. 

“Problem-Action-Result stories are crucial to an interview. They are the most effective way to share your strengths and achievements,” says Mariam Tarantella, Career and Relocation Coach at IMPACT Group. “The PAR method enables interviewees to validate and clarify their talents and what they bring to the position.” 

Strong achievement stories focus on these key points: 

  • The Problem: Describe the problem, situation, or circumstance in which the event occurred. 
  • Your Action: What did you do to address the problem? Briefly organize the actions you took in logical sequence.
  • The Result: What did you achieve? How was the benefit measured? Emphasize what you were able to accomplish in quantitative or qualitative data, if possible. 

Wouldn’t it be nice if our presidential candidates used this method to clarify their qualifications and plans, too? 

Anyone can walk into an interview (or a debate) and claim they have certain skills, strengths, and expertise. Not everyone is able to back those claims up with specific examples. “A story creates a visual for the interviewer, enabling them to envision the candidate in the role,” says Senior Career Coach Tracy Collins. This is what makes the person’s responses significant and powerful.  

Tracy emphasizes that seasoned interviewers can spot a made up answer from a mile away. “When a candidate makes something up or avoids the question, this only makes an interviewer wonder what else the person is not being truthful about.” Mariam goes on to say, “Interviewers can easily tell when a candidate is not prepared. The answers will likely be disorganized and hard to follow. This discounts the person’s credibility.” 

An interview is like an audition – how you sell yourself is a representation of how you will present the company.

Or our country. 

“You don’t need to share all the back and forth – ‘he said, she said’ kind of details,” says Mariam. We have heard a lot of these details lately. The fluff, the assumptions, and the accusations that stray far away from the real question at hand. “What the interviewer wants to know is what you did and what you achieved. That needs to be your focus.”  

Determine the most importance pieces in your PAR story to create a succinct statement for interview questions and develop strong achievement bullets for your résumé/CV. These real-life examples are a powerful tool. Use them often to demonstrate why the interviewer should hire (or elect) you.

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