As soon as you hear these words, you should be aware that your interviewer is probably using “Behavioral Interviewing” techniques.
What this means is they are using a technique, which focuses on your past experiences and behavior as an indicator of your future success. In other words, if you can demonstrate, through examples, that you did something before, there is a belief that you may do it again – positive or negative.
If, for example, you saved the company money by streamlining a process, and you relate the experience to the interviewer, she will become interested because there is a strong possibility that you could save this company money too. If, on the other hand, you did something negative, like fighting with your co-workers, the interviewer will be concerned that your behavior pattern will repeat itself in a new position.
Sometimes it is difficult to come up with a specific example because it is the nature of the business – something that occurs all the time.
A candidate being interviewed had worked in the publishing business for seven years. When she was asked, “Tell me about a time when you had to juggle priorities to meet a deadline,” she almost laughed.
“Juggling priorities is a way of life in the publishing business. There’s not a day when I don’t have to work under that kind of pressure,” she answered.
Her interviewer persisted, “Can you give me a specific example?”
“I could tell you five incidents that happened this week alone. One person was on the phone, and I had three emails with changes, and two deadlines to meet. And, that was only on Monday,” she laughed.
Her interviewer tried again, “Can you be more specific about the details and how you handled them?
The candidate was unable to come up with a specific answer.
In this scenario, the interviewer is seeking information about how the candidate handled priorities and deadlines; how she works under pressure, and how flexible she is.
Since this candidate had a lot of experience in this area she would have satisfied the interview question by telling about a specific time when she demonstrated those skills.
“There was an incident last month, when I received a frantic phone call from one of the managers and had to drop everything to get a change processed. What he asked was almost impossible, but with some help from my team and working some extra hours, I was able to accomplish the goal. The manager of the department commended me for pulling off the changes and meeting the tight deadline.”
If only she had thought of that example in the interview – it would have been a great example of her ability to get things done, no matter what it takes.
Preparing your stories is one of the most beneficial exercises you can do to get focused before the interview. If you say you’re good at something – prove it with a story! You should be able to back up anything you say on your resume, or in an interview, with a story or an example. By writing out your stories before the interview you won’t be caught off guard when you hear those bone chilling words, “Tell me about….”
Click Here to see if you can tell which answer is the strongest.