How to Ace the Job Interview: Introducing the SOAR Story

Your hands are clammy. You are worried about blanking when asked a question. What if you don’t make a strong impression? What if you lose the Wi-Fi connection? 

Take a deep breath. You got this.

There are 101 things to be nervous about before a job interview. This guide will make sure that talking about your previous work experience is not one of them.

What is the SOAR Story and how will it help me ace the job interview?

SOAR stands for: Situation, Obstacle, Action, Results. This is our go-to framework for answering behavioral interview questions. Behavioral questions are questions that you are asked in an interview reflecting on your previous work experience. These questions start with: tell me about a time when…

In this guide, we will break down each letter of SOAR Story. We will provide a full example at the end showing what a SOAR Story looks like.

Situation: Why context matters in the job interview

The situation should provide enough context for the hiring manager to understand the location, time, and role you were in. It should concisely answer: when this was, where this was, what your role was, and provide context so the hiring manager understands the situation. This is how you begin your SOAR Story.

Obstacle: What was the problem you had to solve?

The obstacle is a 1-2 sentence story of the core problem you were trying to resolve. The best stories tie the problem to a business metric. You should answer what was the problem, challenge, obstacle, or goal facing you? Why was it important to address?

Action: What was the action you took to overcome the obstacle?

The action is where you want to show how you resolved the problem. How did you approach the obstacle? What steps did you take? How did you organize your work? Did you collaborate with others?

Result: What impact did you drive through your action?

The result answers the “So What?” of the story and ties the impact back to the business results. The result contains a metric or the launch of an initiative, process, or product. What was the outcome of your effort? How did you know you succeeded? Did you learn something new? This is how you end your SOAR Story.

Putting the whole SOAR Story together

Once you have the Situation, Obstacle, Action, and Result crafted for a SOAR story, put the pieces together to get something like this:

I was a Customer Success Manager at Batman Enterprise where we sold widgets to large manufacturing clients. We ran into a production issue that impacted 3 of our largest clients (valued at $10,000s each per month). I immediately called each client to learn more about the issue. I booked a flight to troubleshoot with one of them on-site the next day. While there, I found that we had changed an internal process within the past few months. This led to the widgets being slightly larger than expected. I took this information back to my team, and we quickly resolved the issue. With my quick action, we were able to retain each of those three high-value clients.

How can working with JobStep help you ace the job interview?

Our Career Success Coaches at JobStep understand the skills and experience employers seek. They are tech recruiters and managers in tech who have excellent insights to help you ace your interview.

We will match you with a coach to schedule a one-hour coaching session. Our coach will work with you to understand your needs, build your interviewing skills, and increase your confidence. 

During the one-hour session, our coach will provide feedback on your interview answers and work with you to help polish them. Our goal is to ensure that you leave your one-hour coaching session with concrete, tactical, and personalized tips to improve your interviewing skills.

Our career coaches will write an optimized resume and cover letter for you. The resume and cover letter will highlight your areas of strength and make your transferable skills pop for recruiters. We will ensure that the resume is optimized to pass through Applicant Tracking System filters successfully. 

Finally, we find and apply to jobs for you! That way, you have 10-25 more hours each week to build your confidence, skills, and practice for interviews. With JobStep, the only thing you have to do is prepare and show up for interviews.

FAQ: How to ace the job interview

What types of questions can I expect during a job interview?

Personal Questions: Personal questions are questions like:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • Why are you interested in this role?

Behavioral Questions: Behavioral questions are questions that you are asked in an interview reflecting on your previous work experience. These questions typically start with, “tell me about a time when…” Remember to use the SOAR Story framework for these interview questions.

Hypothetical Questions: Hypothetical questions are where the employer will share a work situation and ask how you would act. These are questions like, “What would you do if you had to deal with X?” or “Let’s say Y happened, how would you respond?” 

How long should my typical interview question response be?

We typically suggest practicing your SOAR stories and interview answers so that you can answer most of them in 60-90 seconds. You don’t need to cover everything in your interview answer, but just the highlights or bullet point version.

What if I get stumped by an interview question?

We’ve all been there when we are in a job interview, and we get a question we did not expect. If this happens, pause and say, “That is a great question. Please give me a few moments to reflect and answer.” It is 100% ok to take a breath, pause, or jot down your thoughts. Let your interviewer know that you’re taking a moment to think.