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How to Answer “Tell Me About a Time When…” Interview Questions

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By Lily Zhang on The Muse

You’ve reviewed your resume, practiced your elevator pitch, and reviewed a few stories you can share during the interview. All is well, and you’re feeling confident. And when the interviewer says, “Tell me about a time you disagreed with your supervisor,” you are ready to go and launch straight into a story about that one time you bravely confronted the director of marketing at your previous company about a new campaign you had a bad feeling about.

Okay, so maybe that doesn’t sound like you—yet. Let’s take a step back and talk about how you can get there.

Pick the Right Story

All these “Tell me about a time when…” questions require stories. As a hiring manager, it’s incredibly unsatisfying to interview someone who has no stories to share. After all, how can someone know what you can do if you can’t talk about what you’ve done? Don’t be that job candidate.

So, how do you find the right stories to share? Go through the job description and highlight all the soft skills that are featured. You’ll likely find things like “ability to work on a team and independently,” “comfort with multitasking,” or “strong communication skills.” Then, come up with an example of a time you demonstrated each of these traits—though keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need a different example for each. In fact, it’s better to come up with stories that are flexible, since you’ll likely have to adapt them to the exact questions anyway…

 

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