Giving examples

Tips for using examples for best effect

Giving examples is a technique that is used widely and is especially common in behavioural or competency interviews. Being asked to give examples to the interviewer provides you with a great opportunity to talk about something you are really proud of. It is your chance to take control and to shine.

The interviewer wants to know what you are good at and you have free rein to tell them.

Select your examples very carefully.You can choose whatever you believe will show you in a good light and demonstrate you have what it takes to do the job.

The floor is yours!

First make sure that you have some great relevant answers and second make sure you explain these examples clearly, no waffle, pointing out their relevance.

Use this simple structure to use make sure your example has real impact.


Explain what the example is. Keep it brief and relevant. Make sure you personalise it by using ‘I’ not ‘we’.

For example say 'I did', 'I was part of a team that', 'I thought of a way to solve the problem'


On you, your team, colleagues, customers, clients


What you did or organised by yourself or with others


What was the result? Preferably this will be positive unless you want to show how you learnt from it.


What you learnt. How this experience prepared you for the new job.


'Our team has a problem in that our clinics repeatedly ran behind schedule.

This lead to lengthy queues, all chairs taken and lots of unhappy patients waiting. Staff and consultants had to spend time dealing with the questions about how long they would have to wait.'

'I was given the task of analysing why the hold ups were occurring. We discovered that one of the consultant's secretaries has decided to overbook clinics to avoid any potential gaps so had effectively doubled the amount of people arriving for appointments. I was able to suggest a more effective process and also a way of keeping patients better informed without it taking up nurses time'.

'The outcome was less waiting times, happier patients and less stressed staff'

'I learned how to negotiate with my colleagues to achieve a better result for everyone and I am very proud of my achievement'

INTERVIEW TECHNIQUES: Tips for giving examples

  • Workplace examples are better than personal examples
  • Voluntary work is generally more relevant than personal examples
  • Choose examples with a positive outcome
  • Choose ones that are brief and easy to describe
  • Choose ones that show you in a good light
  • Use examples where the skills you used and experience gained are relevant to the vacancy
  • Use examples where it is clear what part you played and the skills you used
  • Choose examples where you can draw parallels to the job you are going for

From Giving Examples to Interview Answers.