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The SARR Thought Map

Job Interviews are a source of relief, excitement, and stress after diligently searching for the perfect position (which you can find right here at Batiste Talent Solutions, shameless plug). The most stressful part of the job interview is not the interview itself. You are obviously qualified! The source of stress is often the questions asked. Most people that I have interviewed or spoken to about interviews all agree that things usually go well until they are asked to "Recall a time in a previous role when...". For many people this is the moment that it all falls apart. Not because they cannot remember time when but because they do not believe they are capable of properly formulating a response that keeps them on task and helps the interviewer see them in the role that they are interviewing for. The SARR Thought Map is a carefully structured technique that helps to relieve you of how to structure a response.

  • Writer's pictureKatrecia Batiste

It's Going Great and Then The Interviewer Says "Tell me about a time when..."

Updated: Apr 30, 2023

It's #hiring season!! You have landed that #interview! This is your dream job and you have one shot at getting this #nextopportunity. You know prompts will be given instructing you to elaborate on how you handled situations in previous roles. As you prepare, you realize that this is an area you always stumble around in every interview.

One technique I love to train candidates on is using the SARR format in their responses to these prompts. SARR is a thought map that ensures you will provide a concise response that specifically speaks only to the prompt you have been given while also keeping the focus on influencing the person that is interviewing you to view you in the role that you are currently interviewing for. The goal is to always end this technique by speaking of yourself as if you have already landed the job!

What is SARR? SARR is a technique in which you break your responses to prompts such as "Name a time in a previous role where you were forced to deal with conflict and detail how you handled that conflict," into four organized parts. This method of organization not only gives a clear response but also allows you to end with the interviewer being able to see how you would fit into the role you are being interviewed for.

S-Situation: Briefly describe the scenario you intend to use as an example for answering the question. Ex. In October 2019 was a Manager at Dillard's Warehouse. After some time of working in my position and developing habits, one of my newer colleagues and I had a disagreement that we could not find a resolution to about our differing approaches to completing tasks.

A-Action: Share the particular steps you took. Ex. I suggested that we both first take a break from our disagreement and complete our tasks for the day and then refer to our superior for mediation after our shift. I scheduled a meeting with the individual that we would need to speak with to resolve our conflict. I also brought a copy of the company policies and procedures along with me.

R-Result: Discuss the outcome of the steps. Ex. As a result, we both were able to agree that we were both wrong and were both using slight deviations from company policy. With the help of the third party, we reached a compromise and developed a plan to move forward that suited us both.

R-Reflection: Briefly name one to three key learning points that can be applied to the position you are interviewing for. (Tip: This should always be the longest portion of your answer as your primary focus should be on influencing the interviewer to see you in the role they are interviewing you for.) Ex. By overcoming this challenge I learned first and foremost to always consult with company policy when I am unsure about the methods that I should use to complete a task. I also learned that when available, mediation may be necessary if a resolution cannot be reached. In conclusion, I intend to always approach workplace disagreements at (insert name of the company you are interviewing for if possible) with an open mind understanding that the best policy is company policy.

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