Nail That Dreaded Interview Question In 3 Easy Steps
When it’s time for new information to be shared, generic busy leaders often take the straight line approach to communication, doctor through email, meetings or top down. That works for general information that has little impact on employees but not so well for significant change. When change happens, the opportunity is ripe for leaders to interact in a meaningful way that helps employees integrate new information into their everyday work. In fact, every communication presents a golden opportunity to engage your employees. So seize them to invite conversation, to answer questions, to address concerns and to deepen your employees’ understanding. They’ll appreciate you for it, figure out what they need to do and adapt to change more quickly.
In many ways the question is not a fair one. It is way too broad, difficult to answer and almost impossible to rate. Many interviewers believe that this question will help the candidate relax when in fact it usually has the opposite effect. Here’s why. We are so much more than interviewers can ever see. They can get a glimpse of our personality through mannerisms, behaviours, words, expressions, and actions. But they can’t see our private thoughts, feelings, hopes, dreams, fears and doubts. To try to express all of this in one simple answer is daunting at best.
There is hope. The best way to answer this question is to tell the interviews a short story about one of the most important goals you’ve achieved, either at work or in your life. A great tool to use in preparing for such a wide-opened question is the iceberg metaphor.
Level one – above the surface. Give an overview of your goal. Explain what you were trying to do, what actions you took and what results you achieved. This will give the interviewer a good sense of your abilities, commitment to carry it through and some indication about your potential.
Level two – just below the surface. Add details about any challenges you faced, the actions you took to solve the issues, how you applied creativity and made choices. This will show the interviewer how you took control of the situation to create the outcome your wanted.
Level three – deep below the surface. Interviewers hope that by asking this broad question they will get at the heart of the candidate. Use the opportunity to express more about yourself as you answer this question. Describe what your thought process was, how you felt, what motivated you to achieve this goal and what you learned about yourself. This will give them clues about what energizes and motivates you, and how you do your best work.
Taking time to prepare for this question is probably the best investment you can make. It is highly likely you will be asked this question many times in your career. Practice telling your story, until you have it down to 60-90 seconds. It will give you more control and confidence and you’ll nail the interview.