Job interviews are nerve-wracking enough as it is, then the hiring manager hits you with something like, "Tell me about a time you dealt with a difficult coworker." What exactly do they want from you and how should you answer? A survey from the folks at LinkedIn might be able to help.
Photo by Tim Gouw
We all dread questions like, "What's your biggest weakness?" but employers use questions like these on purpose to gauge your professional behaviour. LinkedIn interviewed nearly 1300 hiring managers around the world to get their take on behavioural interview questions. There's a load of useful information in their report, including the three traits hiring managers are looking for most in an interview: Adaptability, culture fit, and collaboration.
For example, one question hiring managers ask to judge your adaptability is: "Tell me about a time when you were asked to do something you had never done before." Here's how they want you to answer:
Come up with one or two significant (and real!) stories from your work life that demonstrate your ability to handle change. Think about times when you went outside your job description or figured out a different way to get things done. Consider examples that demonstrate your problem-solving skills, creativity, resourcefulness, a willingness to learn, and/or a positive attitude in the face of change.
To gauge how well you get along with others, or collaborate, hiring managers typically ask, "Give an example of when you had to work with someone who was difficult to get along with." Here's how you should answer:
Think about both positive and negative experiences in which you've worked with others, dealt with conflict, negotiated, and/or compromised. Come up with one or two examples that show your range of playing nice, holding your ground, and working in a team to get things done.
Next time an interviewer throws you an unexpected question, it might help to think about what they're trying to get out of you — adaptability, fit or collaboration. That can help you tailor your answer accordingly, and beyond that, LinkedIn suggests answering with three factors in mind:
- Substance: Good stories and examples to answer their question.
- Structure: Stick to a beginning, middle, and end. "Think one-minute answers, not five-minute," LinkedIn says.
- Style: Answer with confidence, humility, or even humour, LinkedIn says, to set yourself apart from other candidates.
As always, practise helps. For more tips and specific questions, head to their full post at the link below.