What is the DIGS Method™? / by Lewis Lin

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By Abbie Austin and Lewis C. Lin

The DIGS Method™ is Lewis’ framework for tackling behavioral interview questions. It’s superior to STAR because most candidates mechanically apply STAR, sucking away appeal. The typical STAR answer sounds like this:

So the situation was that I had to analyze a business challenge…

My tasks included delivering a 10-page written report and an executive presentation…

The actions I took included doing research, formulating my thoughts, and writing the first draft…

The result was that I completed the report and everyone liked it.

So dull. So boring.

It’s like watching an episode of The Office, without the humor.

We’re not against checklists and frameworks. They help. But telling an engaging (and entertaining!) story is important. A good behavioral answer should feel like a causal conversation between friends.

What is the DIGS Method?

The DIGS Method™ stands for:

  • Dramatize the situation

  • Indicate the alternatives

  • Go through what you did

  • Summarize your impact. 

Entertaining stories usually have a dramatic dilemma, and that’s where we’ll start:

Dramatize the situation

Amplify the story.

Details and context are imperative when crafting a narrative about why your job, project, or product matters. Differentiate yourself by emphasizing the issues that were conducive in reaching goals and problem-solving. Can you emphasize what happened the one time a huge deadline needed to be met on short notice? Was there ever an instance where your team had to pivot on an idea last minute? Here’s an example:

INTERVIEWER: Tell me about a time when something didn’t go as planned.

CANDIDATE: My boss, Disha, stormed into my office. She said, “Ji-hyun has an family emergency. You’ll have to do pitch the new product feature to our leading client. If you don’t secure the $50 million deal, we’ll have to layoff 30% of the company.”

Do you see the drama, details, and the impact? Can you imagine how an opening like this will get the listener on the edge of his or her seat?

Indicate the alternatives

The interviewer needs to understand why the choices you made were best in respect to the alternative solutions. Describing other possible solutions can help you and your final solution stand out; not doing so makes your choice seem expected and ordinary.

Strive to pose three other alternatives, to make the listener feel informed, but not overwhelmed. Bonus points if you can describe the pros and cons of each approach. This will show your analytical traits that hiring managers look for.

INTERVIEWER: How do you know the choice you made to continue on the same project timeline was right?

CANDIDATE: There were other options for sure. We could have pushed the timeline back and had more time to go through each step, but that would have compromised the overarching timeline we had planned for releasing the new product.  If we had decided to change the timeline of the whole product because of this, it would be convenient for us personally, but would put us behind the competition who are also ramping up. In the end, we could have asked our colleague to stay and reschedule, but as a team we strive to support one another, even if that means inconvenience.

Go through what you did

Describe what you did. The interviewer should get a front-row seat to the (not-so-instant) replay. What happened first? Who did you call? How did they respond? Did you get any resistance? This helps the listener get an idea of how involved you were and the ways you in which you influenced the situation.

CANDIDATE: During this busy time in the office, one of my colleagues forgot to respond to an important email and continued to disregard the follow up email I sent as well.  When I asked them about it in person, they got very upset, stating how overwhelmed they were by the current pace in the office. Understanding that they were stressed, I tried to explain that I wasn’t meaning to put undue pressure on them and that we could figure out a solution to take the pressure off.  After hearing this, their voice calmed a bit, they apologized and we were able to have a productive conversation about the current workplace environment. We were even able to come up with productivity implementations to take pressure off but still meet deadlines.

Summarize the impact

The best stories often conclude by recapping the main actions and their impact on the overall situation. Tell your listener how you made a lasting difference. Did your actions benefit the business as a whole? Can you provide concrete details such as numbers and percentages to support the account? Is there a qualitative statement from an executive or a customer who thought you excelled?  These are the types of specifics that reinforce your decision-making skills. 

CANDIDATE: This whole situation showed my boss that I can step up and take charge of projects with important timelines.  If we hadn’t have kept the ball rolling, I am not sure our product would have been as successful as it was. After release, we had 30K new downloads in the first month alone and were able to lock in deals with 20 new advertisers on the platform.

For more information on DIGS, check out Lewis’ book, Decode and Conquer.