"Tell me about a time you..."

I'm prepping for interviews and trying to get a feel for the standard fit questions. Besides the basic "tell me about yourself" and "why this firm" questions, I expect many "tell me a time you ___" questions. I'm compiling a list at the moment, not to write a response for each one, but to try and make sure I can spin the situations I've prepared any way. So far I have:

were a leader
were part of a team
made a mistake
had to make an ethical decision
had to tell someone bad news and how you handled their reaction
were in an ambiguous situation
set a goal that turned out too easy/hard
quit something
had to make a decision based on very little information

Thanks, and I hope this list helps many of you.

Comments (33)

Jan 16, 2013

failed to honor a commitment
submitted a report or project with misspellings or grammatical mistakes

Jan 17, 2013

Had too much to do/competing bosses/multiple demands and had to prioritise is a pretty common one.

Jan 17, 2013

Had to motivate someone.

Jan 17, 2013

Man, where the hell are these odd ball behavioral questions coming from. Like how on earth can you answer shit like that.

For the fail and recover one I would pick some BS that happened earlier in your life and how you learned and dealt with it. Let someone down one I would maybe talk about disappointing a professor or parent and how it motivated you to greater height.

Behavioral question piss me off because their goal is defeated the second people start preparing the perfect answer for them. I would love for someone to bring up something really sad and uncomfortable to make the person asking something so odd ball as this feel like a dick.

Learn More

Side-by-side comparison of top modeling training courses + exclusive discount through WSO here.

Jan 17, 2013

..

Jan 17, 2013

Maybe go with not making a team back in the day...you can't recover if they cut your ass. All my friends played x sport and I really wanted to be on the team but I just didn't have the skill. This experience led me to focus on y sport, activity, etc where I thrived.

Never recovered from x sport fail, but didn't give up either.

Jan 17, 2013

I got asked this in an HR screening interview. I passed but i was still unsure if they liked my answer. Just a thought for those that are or will be interviewing in the near future.

KICKIN ASS AND TAKING NAMES

Jan 17, 2013

Most Saturday nights during undergrad

    • 1
Jan 17, 2013
professionalmonkey:

Most Saturday nights during undergrad

winner

Jan 17, 2013

^outstanding in so many ways...

Jan 17, 2013

I'm assuming you're talking about this in the context of an interview question. I'd relate it to poker if you're a card player. Texas Hold Em is a combination of full information and limited information and you have to make your decisions based on what happened and what's likely to happen. You then have to reevaluate as circumstances change - ie more cards are dealt, bets are made, etc. If you explain it right, you can easily draw parallels to trading.

Jan 17, 2013

99% of decisions you make in life are with limited information. The question is viurtually identicle to "tell me when you made a decision"...shouldnt be hard. Any big decision in your life could qualify.

Learn More

Side-by-side comparison of top modeling training courses + exclusive discount through WSO here.

Jan 17, 2013

those questions are as you said, ridiculous.
retarded formal leftovers of the industry created by hrtards

Jan 17, 2013

I'm lateraling at the moment and yes 80 to 90 of the time I get these bs questions.

Jan 17, 2013

In your experiences, do you get these in the 1st rounds with HR? Or from the groups too?

Jan 17, 2013

From my experience, I almost always get them from HR.

"He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man." -- William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

Jan 17, 2013
not1cuckaroo:

In your experiences, do you get these in the 1st rounds with HR? Or from the groups too?

Definately HR. And depending on company and group, about 50-60% of the time during the half day set of interviews.

Jan 17, 2013

"He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man." -- William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

Jan 17, 2013

Very nice, that's a solid response.

Jan 17, 2013

I haven't gotten these yet in my lateral interviews. None of the interviews were with HR though so that may have something to do with it.

Jan 17, 2013

From HR, yes. From hiring manager and team members, no

Jan 17, 2013

Awesome, I'm interviewing directly with the group. Thanks everybody.

Jan 17, 2013

In your elevator pitch, should I include graduating Summa? Or is that off-putting because its on my resume already? It always seems like the group never even sees a resume other than the name. Lol

Jan 17, 2013
not1cuckaroo:

In your elevator pitch, should I include graduating Summa? Or is that off-putting because its on my resume already? It always seems like the group never even sees a resume other than the name. Lol

Depends how far out of school you are. After 2-3 years, I wouldn't talk about grades. At that point tell me about what you've done with that amazing GPA.

Jan 17, 2013

I graduated in December. I figured if it was 2 years or less, it was still relevant.

Jan 17, 2013

Hate that question. I think what helped me is I didn't try to expound on it beyond "conflict occurred because of x and y, we resolved it by working together and learning from each other, and we ended up absolutely killing the project/deal/whatever. I learned z, a and b." If the interviewer asks more, give details succinctly. Brevity is the soul of wit and all that.

Jan 17, 2013

Agree w/ above, it's a bullshit question and typically indicative of a lazy interviewer who just hoped off a call and didn't remember there was a super day going on until a shit ton of 13 year olds walked into the office and their admin stood by their cube / office until she pestered them into coming down to small conference room #7.

To answer your question, I'd say just make something up; different but not too outlandish. E.g. was on a rafting trip when I was 19 with my younger cousins in Utah or some shit (or wherever it is u go to white rafting) and the raft capsized halfway through the trip. We had get everyone over to the bank and someones mom or something sprained her ankle / had a minor seizure / serious but non-life threatening medical thing. The guide trecked back 10 miles to get help. Was getting dark, everyone was tired / scared, no word on help, middle of nowhere. Took charge of the situation, got the injured dude comfortable / calm, used my land nav skills I learned in boy-scouts to find a main road. Waved down an old farmer who happened to be towing an ATV or something and rescued the shit out of everybody. That's the one I use at least.

If it's something like a disaster school project or something they'll likely keep thinking about that bust they let slip through in the book they just gave their Director on his way to client meeting.

Jan 17, 2013
Comment
Jan 17, 2013