Lovely company, people seem normal and you could work happily with them. Good job, money and benefits. We’ve established therefore that you really want the job. But frankly, the interviewing team e.g. mixture of HR, managers and future colleagues haven’t quite got it together to co-ordinate questions & feedback. In the course of the interviews they all ask the same “difficult” question. Clearly they have all read the same book, “How to Interview People and Thereby Impress Your Mother”. How do you answer so that you don’t sound stale? Worse, what if comes out that you gave an identical answer to two or three people?
Typical question that is increasingly popular… Variations abound but the theme is similar.
a) “Talk me through the most difficult/stressful thing you’ve had to deal with.”
b) “Something stressful comes up and you have two courses of action. How do you choose which course?”
You don’t have to try to think of completely different examples if you get asked this on more than one occasion . I mean, how dramatic and unpleasant has your work history been? Have an example ready before the interview, though, so that you don’t spend precious moments, when you’re supposed to be upbeat, thinking of something ghastly that happened at a previous job. It can be anything that you’re comfortable relating e.g. there was a computer malfunction which messed up the deadline for sending out a crucial presentation. e.g. One of your colleagues was going through some troubling personal times and rather messing up the dynamics of the office workload. And so on….
Just have two or three versions of how to answer.
· a) “I decided not to panic.” “I stopped drinking coffee to make sure I stayed calm….Seriously, I thought it through calmly.” “I had to tell the manager but she wasn’t around so I thought carefully how to tell her the situation in a calm manner. I didn’t want her anxious that she wasn’t there to deal with it.”
· b) “I figured out what the good and bad would be with each course of action and which would cause the least hassle/cost/damage.” “I checked with a colleague with 20 years at the firm and then added that to my idea of what was best.”
Hope you see what I’m getting at here. Have two or three versions ready, just in case. “As I was saying to HR when they asked a similar question….”
Actually, the bigger picture of what I’m saying is, be prepared and do your interview homework. You want to sound prepared but not rehearsed. Have some examples ready and a few trusty phrases that will come in handy