Every job interview you’ll ever have will at some point or another require you to tell a story about yourself.
The person interviewing you will recline in their chair and say, “tell me about a time when you _.” And while you’re certainly not expected to have some mind-blowingly extraordinary response to every prompt, you should have some solid stories ready if you want to leave a good impression.
In this article, we’ll be running through some of the most common anecdotal interview questions and how you should prepare for them.
Tell me about a time when you overcame adversity.
Most of us haven’t climbed Mount Everest or recovered from a terminal illness. So, don’t worry if you don’t have a super inspiring or profound story. What the interviewer really wants from you is an example of a) your resilience and b) your ability to problem-solve. Come up with a story that exhibits both of those attributes, and you’ll be just fine.
Tell me about a time when you stood up for what you believe in.
The important thing to keep in mind with all of these questions is, always be reading the subtext. What are they really asking you? What about this question shows them that you are a viable candidate for this job. With this question specifically, what they want to know is that you’re a person with conviction. They want to know that you have a moral compass and you’re not a person who is easily pushed around. So, instead of thinking of a story when you did something heroic, tell them a story about a time when you did what was right even when it was hard. Such as standing up to friends or coworkers.
Tell me about a time when you had a disagreement with your boss, and how you handled it.
If you don’t have a good answer to this question, it’s fine to say so. But, if you have had disagreements with bosses in the past, be sure to frame it up as respectfully as possible. They want to know that you’re the type of employee who will work with superiors when an issue arises rather than gossip behind their back. Think of a time when you came to a compromise with your boss and ironed out an agreement that worked for everyone.
Tell me about a time when you had to work in a team.
They might as well just ask, “are you a team player?” This anecdotal style of questioning is more thorough than a simple yes or no prompt. If you’re a person who works well with others, think of a time that you had to collaborate with other people to get something done. This could be a sports team, a group assignment in school, or a team project at work. If you’re a leader, don’t be shy in telling them that you took the lead. If you’re more of a workhorse, tell them how you took care of your responsibilities in a timely manner.
Some interviews require more of these personal stories than others. So, it’s best to have a few of them prepared just in case.
Thanks for reading, and good luck!