What to do if you can’t answer a question in a job interview

Job interviews are partly designed to confirm that you understand what skills, qualities, and values are needed to undertake a certain role and to make sure that you possess them. In order to assess this, interviewers often ask you what are commonly referred to as competency-based or ‘behavioural questions’.

Competency-based questions ask candidates to provide examples of how they’ve handled situations in the past and what skills they’ve needed/used to deal with these situations. Examples of these questions that you could come across in a job interview include:

Tell me about a time when you’ve worked well as part of a team.Tell me about a time when you’ve had to deal with a challenging customer.Tell me about a time when you’ve received constructive criticism and acted upon it.

Some competency-based questions can be difficult because you may not have been in the exact situation that your interviewer is describing – and this can be particularly true for career changers.

For example, if you’re interviewing for a job in retail and you’ve never worked in a customer-facing role, you might struggle to answer the question, “Tell me about a time when you’ve had to deal with a challenging customer.” The best thing to do in this instance is to follow these steps:

State that you have never encountered this situation before.Identify which skills would be useful in such a situation.Give an example of when you’ve implemented these skills in a similar, but different scenario (reverse-engineering).

So, you could say:

“To be perfectly candid. I have never dealt with a difficult customer before as I have never held a customer-facing role. However, I believe the key to dealing with difficult people, or people that you disagree with, is to stay calm, listen, and be understanding.

“Being a father of two, I imagine dealing with a difficult customer is a lot like dealing with an unhappy child, as you want the best for your children just as you want the best for your customers.

“If I was faced with a difficult customer, I would be sure to be kind, calm, understanding, and listen. In my experience, this has usually led to a resolution.”

Alternatively, for something like customer service, you could speak about a time when you’ve been on the receiving end. For instance, you could explain a time when you’ve received excellent customer service and why you thought the person or people delivering it did such a good job.

Author: wpadmin

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