There are 3 possible ways to answer. The first way to answer it is by talking about a menial task you had to do BUT you have to make sure that you don’t describe it as being unsatisfying and as though you are up above it all.
Think like a sports team. . . There are people in baseball who have to sacrifice themselves to move a runner over. Well, you can talk about that time you swept the floor or stuffed envelopes. . . and you understand the importance of the role. The place has to stay clean. Envelopes have to go out. You did it well but it’s not something that causes your mind to stay active. You coped with it. You put your best effort into it, but, at the end of the day, it’s not something you enjoy doing. That’s one way to answer.
Another way is by talking about something that was team-related. You worked on this project with other people and then you describe your role on the team. Maybe there were difficult personalities on it. Maybe there are people with whom you just couldn’t see eye to eye that a lot of the team was bumping heads with. You tried to be a mediator at times and work on getting collaboration but there were some personalities there who just didn’t want to collaborate. They just wanted to rule. Then, you talk about your efforts. “We got the thing going. We made it effective. Some people got ostracized on the project. It was a tough experience but you all pull together… Almost all of you pull together and bring it home.
The 3rd way to answer this… You did something hard. Then talk about what made it hard. Maybe it’s because it was poorly planned. Maybe it was badly executed. Whatever it was. Don’t talk about the blame. Talk about the difficulty in delivering what it was that everyone had committed to do… Maybe it was the planning and you weren’t involved with that. But, at the end of the day, you did your part, others did theirs, other people didn’t do anything. It eventually came through. . . You get the idea.
Talking about something extremely hard, probably from a planning standpoint, as being the failure is probably the easiest case to work with. Then, work from there in describing what made it so hard.
Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2020
ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1800 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.
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