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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 October 22, 2019

How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

We live in a world of massive distraction. No matter where you are today, there is always going to be distractions. Your colleagues talking about their latest date, notification messages popping up on your screens, and not just your mobile phone screens. And even if you try to find a quiet place, there will always be someone with a mobile device that is beeping and chirping.

With all these distractions, it is incredibly difficult to concentrate on anything for very long. Something will distract you and that means you will find it very difficult to focus on anything.

So how to focus and concentrate better? How to focus better and produce work that lifts us and takes us closer towards achieving our outcomes?

1. Get Used to Turning off Your Devices

Yes, I know this one is hard for most people. We believe our devices are so vital to our lives that the thought of turning them off makes us feel insecure. The reality is they are not so vital and the world is not going to end within the next thirty minutes.

So turn them off. Your battery will thank you for it. More importantly though is when you are free from your mobile distraction addiction, you will begin to concentrate more on what needs to get done.

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You do not need to do this for very long. You could set a thirty-minute time frame for being completely mobile free. Let’s say you have an important piece of work to complete by lunchtime today. Turn off your mobile device between 10 am and 11 am and see what happens.

If you have never done this before, you will feel very uncomfortable at first. Your brain will be fighting you. It will be telling you all sorts of horror stories such as a meteorite is about to hit earth, or your boss is very angry and is trying to contact you. None of these things is true, but your brain is going to fight you. Prepare yourself for the fight.

Over time, as you do this more frequently, you will soon begin to find your brain fights you less and less. When you do turn on your device after your period of focused work and discover that the world did not end, you have not lost an important customer and all you have are a few email newsletters, a confirmation of an online order you made earlier and a text message from your mum asking you to call about dinner this weekend, you will start to feel more comfortable turning things off.

2. Create a Playlist in Your Favourite Music Streaming App

Many of us listen to music using some form of music streaming service, and it is very easy to create our own playlists of songs. This means we can create playlists for specific purposes.

Many years ago, when I was just starting to drive, there was a trend selling driving compilation tapes and CDs. The songs on these tapes and CDs were uplifting driving music songs. Songs such as C W McCall’s Convoy theme and the Allman Brothers Band’s, Jessica. They were great songs to drive to and helped to keep us awake and focused while we were driving.

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Today, we can create playlists to help us to focus on our work. Choose non-vocal music that has a low tempo. Music from artists such as Ben Böhmer, Ilan Bluestone or Andrew Bayer has the perfect tempo.

Whenever you want to go into deep, focused work, listen to that playlist. What happens is your brain soon associates when you listen to the playlist you created with focused work and it’s time to concentrate on what it is you want to do.

3. Have a Place to Go to When You Need to Concentrate

If you eat, surf online and read at your desk, you will find your desk a very distracting place to do your work. One way to get your brain to understand it is focused work time is, to use the same place each time for just focused work.

This could be a quiet place in your office, or it could be a special coffee shop you use specifically for focused work. Again, what you are doing is associating an environment with focus.

Just as with having a playlist to listen to when you want to concentrate, having a physical place that accomplishes the same thing will also put you in the right frame of mind to be more focused.

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When you do find the right place to do your focused work, then only do focused work there. Never surf, never do any online shopping. Just do your work and then leave. You want to be training your brain to associate focused work with that environment and nothing else.

If you need to make a phone call, respond to an email or message, then go outside and do it. From now on, this place is your special working place and that is all you use it for.

Every morning, I do fifteens minutes of meditation. Each time, I sit down to do my meditation, I use the same music playlist and the same place. As soon as I put my earphones in and sit down in this place, my mind immediately knows it is meditation time and I become relaxed and focused almost immediately. I have trained my brain over a few months to associate a sound and a place with relaxed, thoughtful meditation. It works.

4. Get up and Move

We humans have a limited attention span. How long you can stay focused for depends on your own personal makeup. It can range from between twenty minutes to around two hours. With practice, you can stay focused for longer, but it takes time and it takes a lot of practice.

When you do find yourself being unable to concentrate any longer, get up from where you are and move. Go for a walk, move around and get some air. Do something completely different from what you were doing when you were concentrating.

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If you were writing a report in front of a screen, get away from your screens and look out the window and appreciate the view. Take a walk in the local park, or just walk around your office. You need to give your brain completely different stimuli.

Your brain is like a muscle. There is only so much it can do before it fatigues. If you are doing some focused work in Photoshop and then switch to surfing the internet, you are not giving your brain any rest. You are still using many of the same parts of your brain.

It’s like doing fifty pushups and then immediately trying to do bench presses. Although you are doing a different exercise, you are still exercising your chest. What you need to be doing to build up superior levels of concentrated focus is, in a sense, do fifty pushups and then a session of squats. Now you are exercising your chest and then your legs. Two completely different exercises.

Do the same with your brain. Do focused visual work and then do some form of movement with a different type of work. Focused visual work followed by a discussion with a colleague about another unrelated piece of work, for example.

The Bottom Line

It is not difficult to train your brain to become better at concentrating and focusing, but you do need to exercise deliberate practice. You need to develop the intention to focus and be very strict with yourself.

Set time aside in your calendar and make sure you tell your colleagues that you will be ‘off the grid’ for a couple of hours. With practice and a little time, you will soon find yourself being able to resist temptations and focus better.

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Featured photo credit: Wenni Zhou via unsplash.com

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