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This is one of those tough interview questions that can be asked of people both had a senior level in the staff level.

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The question I'm going to work with today is one that it's pretty clear. It's a behavioral interview question. It asks about a behavior that you've had previously and this one is geared towards leadership. You can always recognize the signal a behavioral interview question because it starts off with, "Tell me about a time when you . . . " and in this particular case, "tell me about a time when something went wrong at work, you took control to charge took action ..." something along those lines is what I'm looking for.
That really is the launch point. They want you to tell them a story and, again, following the format that I teach -- the story starts off with a situation, what the objective was, the action and the result and, in providing the result, you want to provide a metric for whatever impact was. That's a numerical measure of money saved, money earned, percent improvement, how you turned around the project and what the impact of your work was.
Now, if you're at a staff level, instead of this acronym of SOAR (situation, objective, action, result), I suggest situation, task, action ,result. Slightly different when you you are at a staff level than when you're at a leadership level.
So, what do they want to hear from you?
Number one is a time where you actually stepped up because a lot of people talk the talk and when asked the question like that, they provide a story that doesn't indicate that they've ever done it. So, they are listening for cues that indicate that you actually did step up, that you didn't take a back seat. In the course of working with other people that you actually stepped out front.
In telling the story what they don't want to hear is a lot of criticism. They don't want you complaining about your colleagues. They don't want you to get triggered emotionally and freaking out in front of them.
They want to have someone tell them a story that's clear, concise, and to the point that demonstrates that when the going gets tough, you step up. That, in a sense, that there's enthusiasm and passion and a commitment to lead no matter what's thrown at you . . . dare I say a little bit of bravery maybe. So, that's what they're listening for in your answering the question. Give it to them. It's really that simple.
If you don't, it's a void that they can fill in with their story about weakness and lack of suitability for leadership roles.


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1300 episodes and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice.” He is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

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