The SAIL Framework for Behavioral Interview Questions

A framework designed for smooth sail-ing during your next interview

2 min readNov 5, 2020

STAR over indexes on the context without zooming in on the impact.

Therefore, I came up with the SAIL framework instead (situation -> action -> impact -> learnings) to more closely align with what interviewers are looking for when they ask these behavioral questions.

⛵ 𝗦𝗶𝘁𝘂𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻al context (briefly). No one needs to know the inner workings of your previous employers. They need to know that your actions there translate to good work here if they were to hire you.

⛵ 𝗔𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 you took. Don’t claim ownership over a team effort nor let your ownership get diluted by incorrectly using “we” on things that you specifically did.

⛵ 𝗜𝗺𝗽𝗮𝗰𝘁 of your actions, ideally in measured form but qualitative results work too. How do you know that what you did was worth anyone’s time and how do you know that it was the right action to take?

⛵ 𝗟𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴𝘀 regardless of whether it was the right action or not, but especially if the outcome wasn’t what you expected. Demonstrate a growth mindset, reflection, and intentionality about your work.

I designed this after watching Alex Rechevskiy’s YouTube channel where he discusses how it is important to demonstrate learning and growth from previous situations. In addition, Paul Bauer points out that many candidates can get stuck on the situation and task without clearly outlining what the impact of their actions was, which is the real juicy deets that your interviewer is trying to get from you: do you have impact in the work that you’ve done and can you provide impact at our company if we hire you?

Or, as Alex says, you’re hired to get stuff done, not to just do things.