The CAR format (Challenge-Action-Result)* is an effective way to showcase your experiences and skills during an interview. Recently, a candidate asked, " How much detail do interviewers expect when using the CAR format?"
To answer this question, we can break down the information into three tiers.
Tier 1: High-Level Summary
The first tier is a brief summary of the experience you want to share. The CAR format includes the Challenge, Action, and Result in up to two sentences. This summary is meant for documents like your resume, cover letter, or bio.
Tier 2: Detailed Story
The second tier is a more detailed story you would share during an interview. You will take the high-level summary from Tier 1 and expand upon it. You should still use the CAR format, but you can elaborate more on the Action and Result. The Challenge remains the same, but you may add three to four bullet points to the Action section to provide more detail. The Result section can include more than just numeric results, and you can discuss any additional benefits or lessons learned. This tier should be a paragraph or two and take about three minutes to share.
After sharing your Tier 2 story, ask the interviewer if they would like more detail. If they say yes, you can move on to Tier 3.
Tier 3: In-Depth Discussion
The third tier is a more in-depth discussion of the experience. This can be a longer conversation or a detailed explanation of the Challenge, Action, and Result. You should only move to this tier if the interviewer requests more information. This tier could take an additional 5-10 minutes, depending on the interviewer's needs.
To make sure you are providing the right level of detail, it is always a good idea to ask the interviewer at the beginning of the interview what they are looking for. You can ask if they want lots of little details, a focus on your strengths, or a high-level strategy overview.
In summary, the CAR format can be used in three tiers during an interview.
Tier 1 is a high-level document summary, Tier 2 is a detailed story to share during the interview, and Tier 3 is an in-depth discussion if the interviewer requests more information.
Remember to ask the interviewer what level of detail they are looking for and always make sure the interviewing is a two-way conversation.
* To get more insights on the CAR format and how to incorporate it into your story - Sign up for free to get Discovery Access!