When you are being interviewed for a job, you want to be yourself, but be the very best version of you. It is important to present yourself in the finest light by being pleasant and professional. Make eye contact with the interviewer and smile. Listen carefully without interrupting, respond thoughtfully and succinctly, and don’t ramble on with irrelevant personal details. You don’t just want to be likeable, you also need to showcase your qualifications, demonstrate your problem solving skills, and show how they could be applied to the open job position.
What Are Employers Looking for in an Answer?
Potential employers want to know that you have the skills to show competence in the following areas:
• Efficiently handling the tasks at hand in a timely manner
• Solving complex problems
• Providing solutions
They tend to ask a variety of different questions to find out if you will excel in these areas and be a good fit for the open position.
Use Career Success Stories to Show Your Strengths
Career success stories are accounts of situations in your career that turned out to be crucial moments when you overcame substantial trials and tribulations to succeed. Instead of just stating that you are good at something, it is far better to tell a specific story that gives the interviewer a clear picture of your problem solving skills.
Stories about your personal life should show your distinctive ability to solve problems. A well-told success story ought to demonstrate how you chose to deal with a tough situation at a previous job. The point is to explain a tough problem that cropped up in a previous job, and then highlight how you took the initiative and designed and instigated a strategy to remedy the problem.
When an interviewer asks a question about how you handle adversity or pressure, or how you deal with challenge or conflict, try to break the answer down into the following three parts.
• Relate it back to a comparable event that occurred earlier in your professional life
• Talk briefly about how you handled the situation
• Discuss the positive result of your actions
The purpose of the answer is to demonstrate to the interviewer that you have specific experience in dealing with similar situations.
Example of a Career Success Story to Demonstrate Problem Solving Skills
For example, let’s say that the infamous Jay Gatsby of the novel Great Gatsby is interviewing for a job. His potential boss explains that the position has many intense moments and asks him how he deals with high-pressure situations.
Instead of the ambitious Jay simply answering that he is great at and comfortable with dealing with stessful situations, he should definitely expand on his answer and go on to say, “Let me give you an example of something I had to deal with at my previous job. I was leading a small group of bootleggers, supplying the entire eastern region of the city with booze. We were rated in the top three for annual sales, but wanted to reach number one before the end of the year. In the fall, sales slipped ten percent. I scheduled and headed-up a sales-planning retreat with a goal to accomplish three things: First, we identified our best selling products and decided to simplify our offerings and increase production of those items. Second, I had each employee lay out a tactical plan for winning business at each speakeasy and drugstore in his district prior to the year’s end. Third, I asked each rep to commit to a certain sales level for that time period, and offered incentives. The result of this meeting was that we passed our profit goal and achieved number one in bootlegging sales in the city. We were recognized as the top in the business and as a reward, the city-wide bootlegging leader put me in charge of a larger team and rewarded me with a swell mansion in West Egg.”
In Jay Gatsby’s interview answer, he was able to make the connection between his leadership and problem solving abilities and related situations in the new field through his success story. If you are trying to secure a position in a new field or type of job, there will still be many similarities found in the day-to-day opportunities and challenges of the job. Your relevant career success stories make a clear connection and demonstrate how your problem solving skills can be put to use at the new job.