As soon as you hear the words, “Tell me about a time when…” your interviewer is most likely using a behavioral interviewing technique.
This technique uses your past experiences and behaviors as an indicator of your future success. If you can demonstrate through examples that you accomplished something before, the interviewer may have the tendency to believe you can do it again.
Being prepared with specific examples and stories to showcase your skills is key in nailing this portion of the interview.
Tell a Specific Story
Preparing your stories is one of the most beneficial exercises you can do to become focused before your interview. For example, if you say you’re comfortable with multi-tasking or work well on a team or independently, come up with a specific example of a time you demonstrated each of these traits.
Be prepared for “negative” questions as well like, “Tell me about a time you had to deal with a conflict on your team” or “Tell me about a time that you suffered a setback. What happened, and how did you recover?” How you convey to the hiring manager how you handle conflict and failure tell a lot about your character.
Write out your stories before the interview and pick ones that are relative to the job description. And practice framing these stories aloud to prevent you from rambling on during the interview and ending your response with… “And, yeah.”
Try connecting the story back to the company or position. But don’t stress too much about having the perfect stories lined up or the exact relevant experience. Instead focus on the messages you’re trying to communicate to the hiring manager and back them up with the stories that you have.