SMART Interview!

Note: This article is authored by Hanane Anoua, originally published on the Flevy Blog. You can read all of Hanane’s articles here.

Interviews have become a burden on both the employer and the candidate at all levels. The interviewer is searching for a quick and concrete way that can accelerate the “decision making”; and the candidate whatever his status, has to handle a series of questions keeping a smooth and clear communication. It may not be always the case for some people as they are often dispersed by details and have to handle stress equally.

SMART interview may be confused with the SMART method often used in defining goals and objectives that should be–Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time based. The S.M.A.R.T. format in this article stands for Situation, Mission, Actions, Results, and Thoughts. This method can pen a SMART story for each of your accomplishments, project you worked on to avoid getting drowned in useless information that can be of no value to the interviewer. The story should be set up briefly in a very clear way, with an emphasis on the actions undertaken, and wrap it with the results and the key learnings. Each story should reflect one of your achievements or projects in your background, but select the story that is most relevant to the job applied for, reflecting your competencies and skills.

The SMART format can involve even professionals, corporate managers or simply people that need to handle speeches, reports or presentations seeking consistency and reliability based on tangible facts and outputs.

A SMART Interview is the ability to respond to each one of these elements in a very Clair and Concise way picking up the key elements of each achievement. One or two sentences at each level will be sufficient.


This part should explain the situation or the driving forces that lead to the initiation of the project, the creation of the position you represented or simply the general context that contributed to such launch or decision. Here an example: your position right now may be a new creation for the company. It may be interesting to describe the reasons behind this creation, or the facts, conditions and events that contributed to such project. Many launches or projects can also be the results of a market research or a sudden issue to overcome.


Your Mission is what you stood for to respond to such context or situation described earlier. As a mission, you may have to enhance the organization’s brand awareness as a result of a market research. Your mission can also be an increase of sales of 20% or a decrease of the churn of 10%.

Whatever your mission is, it should be in line with the situation. It should be short, clear, and useful.


What actions did you take? If your mission was to enhance brand awareness, what were the actions you went through to increase this rate. It may be interesting to describe the events or channels of communication used to respond to the strategy pre-defined.


What were the results of those actions? Your realizations should be quantified and compared to the objective fixed in the beginning. This can allow you to explain if there were any deviations and how you managed these deviations or gaps. The way you handled this gap may be more appealing to the employer than the actions themselves as it may mirror your added value.


This part is the most neglected item in the story. It should describe the key learning we got from each experience and project. It does not matter if your realizations were great or not, what matters most is your ability to learn from past mistakes and failures and use them for future orientations. The more you embrace failures and learn from them, the more you will have chances to evolve.

You can also include your emotions and feelings, things that most people attempt to hide. Emotions create all the difference because it can describe how you felt about this experience and how you managed to handle it.

The SMART format is an excellent way to describe your achievements in a very clear and concise manner but Attitude is the determining factor of its success as it can either reflect a doubt about your arguments or mirror a great sense of determination

Beyond the scope of your achievements, we all need to change certain perceptions about Interviews:

A SMART Interview is also about a smart way of assessing the company strengths and weaknesses before applying as it may be a lost of time and energy for you;

A SMART Interview is to be aware of your own values and objectives to be able to check if they are lined up with the organization’s as it may give you a big jump forward or a hit in your career;

A SMART interview is to be clear about your own questions so that you can assess the employer’s credibility. Not all headhunters and employers are reliable. Some of them may have no clue of the hiring etiquettes and norms, with all my respect to those who excel in this role;

A SMART Interview is to be conscious that not all rejections from employers has to do with your competencies as sometimes they themselves lack these competencies and skills;

A SMART Interview is know about your exact value and search for a job-not any job- that reflects your potential and not a position to fill in a specific company;

A SMART Interview is the confidence you put on when talking about your achievements and not the achievements themselves. It is about your attitude and not about facts and events;

A SMART Interview is simply to be yourself and not someone else. Being honest and authentic is not about pleasing others, but being in harmony with yourself. So “Be so good, they can’t ignore you,” Steve Martin. If they do, keep looking, don’t settle, and keep faith. Sometimes, it can be a great piece of luck not getting that job.

Readers Are Also Interested in These Resources

Fiaccabrino Selection Process (44-slide PowerPoint presentation)

Behavioral Competency Based Interviews Guide (35-slide PowerPoint presentation)

How to Conduct Consulting Interviews (32-slide PowerPoint presentation)

Designing and Delivering Focus Interviews (13-slide PowerPoint presentation)

Recruiting, Selection & Retention: Ensure Diversity in Recruiting & Selection (5-page PDF document)

Recruiting, Selection & Retention: Interview for Intangibles & Soft Skills (4-page PDF document)



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Mark Bridges

I blog about various management frameworks, from Strategic Planning to Digital Transformation to Change Management.