Foliotek Blog

Tell Me About a Time When ...

You follow the receptionist down a dark and narrow hallway to the scariest room in the building: the conference room. This is where your fate will be decided. Will you land your dream job and start a promising career or will you be stuck living in your parents' basement forever? You choose your seat wisely, hoping that your choice doesn't have some strange, hidden meaning that says you're completely wrong for the job. After the polite introductions, the dreaded interview questions begin. First, "Tell me about yourself." Then, at some point during the grueling process, you'll hear "Tell me about a time when … "
alt Ok, maybe it won't be quite that dramatic. However, if you want your interview to go well, you should be prepared to answer this commonly asked question. When you're asked "Tell me about a time when," your interviewer is asking you to tell a story. Maybe it's a story of overcoming a challenge, solving a complex problem, or dealing with a difficult customer. The best way to prepare for this question is to have a few stories up your sleeve.

Know the job requirements

Refer to the job description and determine the requirements of the position. The goal of your story is to communicate that you have the skills required. Look through some common 'Tell me about a time when,' questions and try to anticipate what questions you might be asked.

Think about your experiences

Reflect on your past experiences, both personal and professional. Think about your accomplishments, personal growth, failures, and proud moments. How do these experiences relate to the requirements of the job? If one of the job requirements is teamwork, think of a time you had to work with others. What was your role on the team? How did you help the team accomplish your goals? Developing this story will help you communicate to your interviewer what they can expect from you in a team setting.

Write a story and practice

In order to turn your experiences into meaningful stories, you need to know how to tell them. Like all good stories, they should have a beginning, middle, and end. Building your stories around the STAR technique can be helpful when it comes to interview questions. The beginning of your story should describe the Situation and Task of your experience. The middle will be the Activity or Action you took. The end is the Result of your action. Once you have your story, practice telling it out loud so you appear polished and professional....like this:

Share your stories

You don't have to wait until an interview to share your stories. Use Foliotek Projects to showcase your experiences to potential employers. Including stories (projects) on your ID page or ePortfolio will give employers a better idea of your skillset before you even meet.

The last thing you want to do in an interview is stumble around trying to think of a decent story to tell. Take the time to write, practice, and share your stories, and that long walk to the conference room won't be scary at all.