“Can you give me an example of a time when you were working on a project that required sustained and persistent effort?”
What answer actually answers the question? Which answer should you be wary of? Are there any Red Flags?
(A) “I have handled all assignments with the same amount of effort. I do whatever it takes to get the job done. If I haven’t been able to get my job done during the day I will stay late to complete whatever it is that didn’t get accomplished. I pride myself on getting the job done whatever it takes.”
(B) “The assignment that comes to mind is when I had a deadline to meet that would take three days to complete and I only had two days. What I did was to prioritize and delegate to other team members what I could. After that I worked steadily by blocking off hours to work on nothing but the project. At the same time I still had to get my regular work done. I put in a lot of extra hours but for the most part, planning and prioritizing ahead made a huge difference and I got the job done on time.”
(C) “I think the most sustained and persistent effort that I ever made was when I established a database for my last company. It was tedious work and I had to work continuously or I would lose the momentum of getting the task done. I am pretty good at concentrating when I have to. I got through the project and did a good job but I was glad to be over with that tedious task.”
I think the strongest answer is ______
The Strongest Answer
(B) This is the strongest answer for several reasons. First the candidate listened to the question and answered what was asked: “Of all the assignments you’ve had which required…?” The candidate also showed key qualities of planning, team work, and prioritizing. And, the candidate displayed an attitude of being willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done, as well as the ability to do it in a smart manner.
The Mediocre Answer
(A) Although the question didn’t really get a specific answer this is an ok answer because the candidate shares good information and the answer has the right energy behind it. The phrase, “I always do whatever it takes to get the job done” would require some probing to get to a specific example of the behavior. If the candidate cannot give a specific example perhaps the words are empty and claim something that may not be quite true.
The Weakest Answer
(C) This answer is weak for a couple of reasons. First, it shows that the candidate lacks confidence through the use of words such as: “pretty good.” They’re either good, or not good. It also has the tone of someone who had to make a real effort to get through a tedious task. Depending on the job that this person is interviewing for, you will have to determine whether he or she will burn out from the types of tasks they will perform in this position. The answer will require further probing to find out if this is a pattern of behavior or just boredom with this particular task.
Workshop on Behavioral Interviewing
Boost Your Interview IQ – Second Edition (white cover – published – 2012) – for a quick brush up on Behavioral Interviewing as well as other questions. It’s a quiz and you determine which is the strongest answer.
The book is available at many bookstores.
On line —- Paperback and Kindle
“Boost Your Interview IQ” by Carole Martin provides you with the essential skills and techniques you need to apply in any real life interviewing scenario. If you are truly interested in exploring the fundamentals and learning the essentials of job interviewing, then this book will be an important guide.