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How to Tell Stories About Yourself to Show You’re the Best Fit for the Job

How to Tell Stories About Yourself to Show You’re the Best Fit for the Job

Prepare well for an interview and you have a great chance of showing off what you’re really made of. But preparation can be tricky when there are so many different kinds of questions that could potentially come up.

Behavioral interview questions are one such type and the way you answer them could be crucial to getting that perfect job.

What’s the Intention of Asking Behavioral Interview Questions?

These types of questions aren’t designed to test how you behave in an interview but are incorporated to allow the interviewer to assess how you would handle a certain situation.

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In other words, behavioral questions are used because your past experiences and successes are a positive indicator for your success in the future. Employers want to know if your approach to a situation – either positive or negative – will fit well in their team and company as a whole. It will show your ability to adapt, your relationships with co-workers, time-management skills, client skills, together with your motivation and values.

Examples of Behavioral Interview Questions

There are many different types of behavioral interview questions:

  • Give me an example of a time you faced a conflict while working on a team. How did you handle that?
  • Tell me about a time you were under a lot of pressure. Describe the situation and how you dealt with it?
  • Tell me about a time you were dissatisfied in your work. What could have been done to make it better?
  • Give me an example of a time you had to manage numerous responsibilities at once. How did you handle that?

These can be the most tricky questions because you aren’t relying on your qualifications or your immaculate employment record. Instead you’re essentially being tested on how you would act in the job.

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But don’t let this intimidate you. There is a great strategy to follow in order to answer these types of questions in a structured and thorough manner.

Using the STAR Technique Can Help You Give a Well-Organized Answer

STAR stands for situation, task, action and result. It’s a good way of remembering the structure of answering a behavioral question which usually requires an active example of a past situation or experience.

SITUATION: This is where you describe the situation or event that took place. It isn’t necessary to go into too much detail, keep it concise and include the important facts.

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TASK: Here you describe the task that you were asked to complete. This is where you will mention any difficulties and challenges.

ACTION: Explain what you did to solve the problem or complete the task.

RESULT: This is where you’re telling the interviewer how the situation turned out according to the actions you took. It’s important to focus on the outcome being a positive for either yourself, your team or the company as a whole.

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Steps You Should Go Through to Answer Behavioral Questions

There are some key things you can do to respond to these types of questions with confidence and show off your abilities in a positive way.

Preparation: This is an obvious one but behavioral questions are ones that can cause us to get stuck if we haven’t spent some time thinking about various past scenarios and situations. Spend time researching common behavioral interview questions and make sure you have a few different examples that can be adapted for different questions.

Pause before you answer: Even the most confident of us can get nervous when being interviewed. We often think blurting out our answer will hide our nervousness but it can go against us if we haven’t formulated the right answer in our mind first. Don’t be afraid to pause and take a sip of water to give yourself some time to think of your best prepared anecdote for the question asked.

Remember the STAR technique: If you answer with the STAR technique in mind, then you are guaranteed to formulate a well-structured answer that covers all bases.

Focus on the positive: The reason we may find behavioral questions hard to answer is because in many cases, we’re asked to describe a difficult or challenging situation. It’s really important to focus on turning this into a positive – talk about what you learned from the experience or how you fixed it – don’t dwell too much on the negativity of the event.

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

More on the Importance of Taking a Break

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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