How To Answer Behavioral Questions | 5 Keys To Interview Storytelling To Make A Lasting Impact
So, stay tuned.
DON’T LOVE READING? Watch video here:
If you do love reading, let’s get back to it…
Okay, so this has to be the number one thing that clients will come to me with.
They will think that their stories are not communicated effectively.
They’re not very good at articulating their own value. They’re not sure how to communicate exactly what they did and why they did it and why it makes a significant impact and why they should be hired.
If you’re in this situation, this post is for you. Even if you just want to improve your interview skills, this is perfect.
Here we go! So the first point, it’s about your value and knowing your own value.
People think that it’s the exact words that you’re using.
You might think it’s the length of your story. You might think about how recent was the story.
Was it just like a few weeks ago, or was it a year ago?
Can I use this story from 20 years ago?
How long should the story be?
None of these things actually matter. What matters is the impact that the story had, like, what were the results of the story?
What impact did it have on the organization?
Why was it important that you were there?
Why was it important that you did the tasks that allowed you to now tell this story?
What did you do uniquely that made this story come about in the way that it did?
It’s about your inherent value.
And the biggest problem is that you probably don’t understand that yourself yet.
If it’s one thing I work with clients on is they don’t understand their inherent value.
There are two questions that I want you to ask after every interview story that you tell so that you can get an answer to this.
- The first question I want you to ask yourself: When you answer a behavioral interview question, whether you’re practicing, whether you’re in an interview, what impact did this story have on the organization?
- The second question is: What would have happened if I wasn’t there to do this particular task to tell this particular story, to work on this particular project, how would it have gone differently? How would it have gone differently?
Perhaps it would have been successful but it would have been different.
Maybe it would have failed if you weren’t there.
In many circumstances that’s the case.
Do we want to zero in on what was the impact that you had on the organization from the story that you’re telling?
And what was it that you uniquely brought to the table in order to make that story, something that you can now talk about?
I have a ton of examples.
You’ll find a ton of YouTube videos, with example stories, from my personal career, and from my clients.
But the examples won’t be useful to you unless you know your inherent value and your inherent impact, right?
It’s not about the words you say. It’s not about the length of your story. It’s not about when your story happened, it’s about the impact that your story had on the organization.
Point number two: A really good interview story will show how you changed in a positive way.
And it’s very important that the story reflects you as a person, reflects your character.
Because those are the stories that really leave a memorable impact on somebody.
I think I’m ready to talk about my story. I had a big massive failure.
One thing I wanted to mention is if you’re still kind of upset about the story, then it’s probably not time to tell it yet because you don’t want to tell it with negative energy and some of our failure and mistake stories and some of the most powerful ones.
Sometimes we need to wait an appropriate amount of time before we feel very comfortable telling them.
So, I was planning a large event for 200 people.
I was a manager and I had an employee helping me out with the tasks for the event.
She was basically handling the legwork for everything and I was managing her.
And so this is not what I was used to normally I’m the one who would be doing everything. My employee, she didn’t have a ton of experience in the events industry or doing events.
She is/was a lovely person, but it wasn’t her fault, in the end, it was my responsibility ’cause I was the manager.
We had to procure a bus to come to pick up 200 people and bring them to an excursion during the event.
The event was in a different city, everybody had to travel.
There were a lot of moving parts and long story short, the bus that was supposed to come to pick everybody up for the event did not show up on time, so everybody was left waiting.
I scrambled to get the bus to come. We had to scramble to get a driver, get the bus to come.
When looking upon further investigation, it turns out the bus was booked for the wrong date and my employee had signed a document that was for the wrong date.
That document had never crossed my desk before. I had never seen it.
She knew that she wasn’t supposed to sign documents, but she made a mistake and ultimately that mistake was my responsibility.
And she wasn’t at the event, so I had to have the embarrassment and I had to deal with the situation.
It was very, very embarrassing. It was very, very painful. It was very, very uncomfortable for me, but ultimately was my responsibility and I had to shift into solution mode to try and figure out how we were going to accommodate 200 people.
Either have another activity for them or get the bus.
In the end, the result was that they were able to get bus drivers.
We were able to go on our excursion, we were just delayed by an hour or so. The result was better than it could have been. We didn’t have to rearrange.
I kind of had some tentative plans to rearrange because I did jump into action and I was as resourceful as possible. I didn’t panic, however, it was still an embarrassing situation.
What did I learn from that?
As a manager, I learned that I needed to review better and work closely with her, in order to ensure that everything was double-checked.
As a person, this changed me because I realized that I needed to supervise a little bit more closely than I had been.
So that shows me as a person who was very trusting and very willing to delegate, versus somebody who might have been hanging on to control of the situation and not wanted to let their employee do anything.
That was my weakness and my downfall at that point is I was too trusting, and I let her handle too much of the things and she just wasn’t quite ready for that level of responsibility.
Also, what I learned was, I’m going to have a process in place next time in order to double-check everything.
Make sure that no signatures are made by her before somebody else’s reviewing the document or the signatures are made by the appropriate person which should have happened in the first place.
However, she misunderstood or she made a mistake and she’s somehow signed that document when she really shouldn’t have.
Have a process in place to make sure documents pass my desk are double-checked and are signed by the appropriate signing authority. This happened about a year ago now, that was very, very embarrassing for me.
It was a big point in my career where I would make sure that that would never happen again.
She already felt bad about it, right?
There was no point in me berating her, disciplining her or making her feel worse about it because she already knew the mistake that had been made.
As a manager, I took into consideration that I knew she already felt bad.
She helped me fix the problem. I was kind and compassionate towards her and I didn’t make it worse. I couldn’t make it worse, she knew what she did.
As a manager, it grew me because even though I wanted to get angry at her human nature would say, how could you do this?
Why wouldn’t you tell me about this, like, what you want to do?
It is not necessarily the best thing and it’s definitely not going to serve her in any way moving forward, right?
So I want people to be free to make mistakes if they’re doing the work and then deal with the mistakes after.
This was an unfortunate mistake, again, super embarrassing, super difficult for me to get over, however, a huge key pivotal learning moment in my career as a manager of people, and as a manager of assigning responsibility and delegating tasks to people.
Having better processes in place, having better checkpoints, and being more mindful of overseeing the process instead of just delegating and trusting.
Not only my ability to manage somebody else but then when the mistake happens, how I handled it.
This is a story that people remember right? It was very painful, very uncomfortable, very embarrassing.
And often the best stories are how they turn out. It grew me as an employee, it changed me as a person. It’s something I’ll never forget.
And that’s what makes a good story. This is the story where everything works out great.
Those are good stories too and we want to talk about our results and we want to talk about how we figured things out, and how we thought we might never do it.
We want to talk about our success stories and talk about ourselves in the hero light.
But we also want to talk about ourselves in a vulnerable light, right?
We also want to show that we’re human and that we do make mistakes, and then how we handle those mistakes, what we learn from those mistakes and who we become as people because interviewers appreciate somebody who is human way more than they relate to somebody who is perfect, polished, professional and never made a single mistake in their career.
Plus, that’s not believable and it’s disingenuous even.
And that’s when people start to be like, “Yeah, there was something off about that person, right? They just seem to have it all to perfect.”
That’s when I want to offer to you is, the main key is to have a moment in the story where you changed as a person.
The point number three: I want to share with you that you can share a physical location for the story.
I shared that the event that we had was in a different city.
I could have mentioned that it was in Whistler BC, and that would have given a physical location been like we’re standing at the hotel.
I’m trying to figure out whether the bus is coming and we’ve got all these people standing outside waiting for the bus, right?
This paints a very clear, very visceral picture in the eyes of the interviewer and they can see, wow, that would be a stressful situation and they can even put themselves in that situation and be like, wow, I can see how that would be very stressful and then they start to relate to me.
Give the story of physical location and every scene in your story should have a physical location because it becomes more visceral for the listener of the story.
Point number four.
I listed my strengths as I told that story, as somebody who was kind and compassionate after the mistake had been made, somebody who was resourceful, someone who moved into the resourceful mode and did the tasks necessary to fix the problem immediately instead of panicking, despite what had happened the best way that I could handle it at the time I did.
And I was able to shift my focus from blaming and anger to resourcefulness and making the necessary moves in order to get what we needed to get done, done instead of panicking, which is something that might be, something that most people want to do.
I listed my key characteristics in the story that would make me a high-value employee, even in the worst of situations.
You want to make sure that you’re doing that even in the situations where you made a mistake or you failed, right?
But we do want to talk about the story.
I very strongly advocate for talking about the stories where you made a big mistake, or you made a big failure because those are the most memorable stories.
They’re the ones that have grown you the most, and they’re the ones where people can relate the most and they’re the ones that are in the end, the most powerful, most memorable stories.
And point number five: Show humility.
It’s very important to show humility.
That means showing yourself as human, showing yourself as vulnerable, showing yourself as a person who isn’t perfect.
Maybe you think that people do want to hire someone perfect, but they really don’t, okay?
They’re not perfect themselves.
They have their own insecurities themselves.
They’ve made their own mistakes themselves.
They don’t want to hire somebody who comes in and intimidates them and makes them look bad.
And when you are perfect or you showcase yourself as perfect, first of all, it isn’t true, because nobody is.
Secondly, is disingenuous.
Thirdly, they can’t relate to you at all, right?
We want to talk about our failures, our mistakes, our shortcomings, our weaknesses, and we also want to show how we manage them and how we handle them as humans.
We all have insecurities. We all have mistakes that we make.
And I like to say that as humans, we’re all kind of smart sometimes and we’re all kind of dumb sometimes.
It’s just the way of it, right?
It doesn’t make us any less worthy, or any less capable on a day to day basis.
Kind of makes us interesting, kind of makes us more fun.
If you’re able to laugh at your own mistakes, yet in the same vein, you’re able to learn from them and take those lessons to improve, teach other people, you are doing what you need to do as a human which is all that can be asked of you, which is growing, learning, succeeding, right?
And if you can’t go in there and talk about that freely, then you are just a robot, who can do everything, is perfect, knows all the answers, it’s very polished and very professional but really, nobody wants to work with you.
I don’t know about you, but I want to become very comfortable with my mistakes, my shortcomings, and my weaknesses.
I also want to be really comfortable with highlighting my strengths and the things that I do really well.
And I also hope that by sharing my shortcomings and my weaknesses, I can help somebody else, I can show how I can improve and be better.
And I also know that the fact that that mistake happened with the bus, the 200 people waiting for the bus for an hour and a half, and I know that I will never forget that and that has changed me as a person.
And in the future, I will handle situations very differently simply because that happened to me.
I hope that this has been helpful to you.
I know storytelling is something that many of you struggle with.
I’m very happy to help you with that.
I actually put together a free guide.
All you have to do is click on the image below to get it.
What you’ll get inside the guide:
Top-ten examples of stories that have proven to be impressive interview answers
The S.A.R.I. formula breakdown of how to answer these questions
The step-by-step of why it works
Fill-in-the-blank templates for each question so, you’ll be able to fill in the blanks and get going!
Now you’ll need to come up with your own stories! Make your own stories! (You can steal the ones in the guide if they apply to you though too, I don’t mind)
If you are still getting stuck because you can’t think of your own stories…
I’ve included 25 questions that you can ask yourself to come up with your stories much quicker!
You’ll get all this in a beautifully designed workbook prepared specifically for you to prepare for your interviews.
By the end of working through this guide, you’ll be feeling confident and ready for any situational interview that comes your way!
Here is some feedback I’ve gotten from this guide, and I get new emails like this every day, and they NEVER get old!
Do you know one person who could benefit from the information in this post? If so, do your friend a favour and share this info with him/her.
And remember, the current system isn’t perfect, but you can outsmart it. I’m here to prove to you that you do have what it takes.
I’ll see you next time and I can’t wait!
In Work & Life
I’ve got your back
– XO Natalie