PSR answers at your next interview

How to answer your interview questions in a focused and concise fashion.



Interview Questions

We all have those interview questions that tend to make us either ramble on, which means we're not focused on nailing the question exactly and concisely.  PSR can put a stop to the rambling.


What is PSR?

PSR stands for Problem, Solution, Resolution.  It's a way to break-down your answer into easily remembered components, that allow you to repeat the question, address it, and wrap it up on a positive note.


Open by rephrasing the problem

Take the interview question, rephrase it in the form of a problem to be solved, and open your response with this.  For example, if the interviewer asks "Tell us about a time you had difficulty understanding a requirement", you might start your response by saying "I remember a time, I had some difficulty understanding what was required.  I was on a project where...."

This allows you to open your response with a sentence that locks into your mind, what you're going to discuss, without making it seem like you're just parroting back the question.  Locking the question into your mind in this way, can help you stay focused on exactly what the interviewer asked.


Describe the problem

Make sure you give enough of a description to make it clear what the problem was, especially how it relates to the question asked.



The solution part of PSR is obviously, how you solved the problem.  Don't make the mistake of getting too technical or detailed here.  If they want to know more, they can ask a follow-up question.  You want to aim for your entire response to take thirty seconds to one minute only.



The resolution wraps up the question by showing the business result of the solution.  For example "So we were able to complete the process under budget" or "We had no further problems from that area".  You want to end on a positive note about how this solution fixed the problem for the company, in a longer-term view than just a momentary fix.  Don't leave the interviewer with the impression that you are unaware of the long-term business resolution.