You've been preparing for weeks. You've read every post on the internet, practiced all your answers, and feel completely ready to kill this job interview and kick off your dream career. Then, it happens. Your biggest fear - you get asked a question you weren't expecting and you completely freeze. This happens all the time and people panic; however, there is a simple way to ensure you never are thrown off during a job interview ever again.
Step 1) Research exact skills and characteristics needed for the role you're applying to
- I recommend speaking to people at the company about this and not just researching online
Step 2) Think of three stories that would collectively cover any skill or characteristic you may be asked about
- These stories should be broad enough that they can be used for multiple situations
- These stories should also be specific enough so that you can remember many details vividly
- These stories should exemplify why you're the best candidate for the job every time you tell any detail of any of the stories
Step 3) Practice answering various interview questions using those three stories
- This is important because you want to tailor the details you share of each story based on the question that you are asked
- Practicing telling these stories from multiple angles will ensure you are able to be articulate during the interview and adequately answer the questions you are asked
Interview question: Tell me about a time you had to work with someone difficult:
Interview answer using story: When I started my first group project at Georgetown, it was extremely difficult to work with other people who had very different schedules than me. At first, one member was struggling to deliver high quality work and even make the time to meet with the whole group. To solve this issue, I put together a pilot schedule for tasks we needed to complete each week and deadlines for major aspects of the project to be completed. I met with the struggling teammate and understood that the reason he was falling behind was because of his hectic extracurricular schedule. However, by organizing a pilot schedule, he was able to fit in the time to deliver the results that we needed. Our entire team was then able to work around our own schedules to meet these deadlines and collaborate to create a high quality report and get an A on the project. The key to working with someone difficult is to take the time to understand them and why they aren't performing as they should. Once you've understood them, it is usually pretty simple to create a strategy that will help them contribute.
Interview question: Tell me about a time you exemplified leadership abilities:
Interview answer using same story: When I started my first group project at Georgetown, it was difficult to work with people who had different schedules than me. Someone from the group, needed to step up and get us organized. I went ahead and put together a pilot schedule for tasks we needed to complete each week and deadlines for major aspects of the project to be completed. By organizing this schedule and communicating it clearly, our entire team was able to work around our own schedules to meet these deadlines and collaborate to create a high quality report and get an A on the project. My team was happy that I had taken the initiative to organize our activities.
Notice that the questions asked were different, but this one story had answers for both questions within the story. The beauty of this strategy is that no matter what the wording of the question is, you are never thrown off because there are so many details and ways to tailor this story to answer the question asked.
This same story could work for many other questions such as:
Tell me about a challenge that you've overcome in the past:
Tell me about a time you had to take initiative:
Do you like working with a group or individually?
Give me an example of a conflict you've had with a group and how you resolved it:
and many more!
This is just one quick and simple example, but if you don't believe it works...try it out! Think of your three stories and have a friend fire some practice interview questions at you and see if you're able to answer the majority of them just with your three main stories!
-Amina Gerrbi, CEO & Founder of Muslimah Society