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However, what most people need work on is providing an interviewer with enough details so that they can actually picture you doing that activity.
Let me give you an example: Question: Tell me about a time when you had to work with other people to pull together an assignment under a tight deadline.
Here's an example of a candidate's typical response: The first thing I can think of is a time when I was working in the arts.
Our House Manager was out of the office on an extended leave when one of our conductor's unexpectedly passed away.
He was well known in the community, so we decided to have a memorial concert in his honor.
The concert was going to be free to the public and had to be organized in only a few days.
Since the House Manager was on leave, the CEO of the orchestra asked me to take the lead in coordinating the seating for the event.
I decided to ask two friends of mine to help me.
We decided to set up stanchions in front of the theater to help with crowd control.
We also needed to count the number of people who were being let into the auditorium to make sure that everyone could find a seat.
It was a big project, on short notice, but it went well.
Everyone found a seat and there really weren't any problems.
I'm sure your first instinct is to say-well, that LOOKS long enough.
What other meaningful details could she have provided that would have helped? She described the setup, the problem, who she asked to help and how it resolved.
However, can you actually picture anyone in this situation? Can you pinpoint exactly what role I played in this sound bite? Can you envision the numbers of people that were involved? Does this example look like it was tough to pull off? Read below for the "enhanced" version.
The first example that comes to mind is working in the arts.
This was while I was the Season Tickets Director at the Atlanta Symphony.
The House Manager-the person responsible for coordinating the ushers and handling all problems at the theater the night of the show-was out of the office on extended medical leave.
One of our conductors-Robert Shaw-passed away unexpectedly.
He was very well known in the community.
In the span of a week, the orchestra coordinated a tribute concert.
The problem was that there wasn't enough time to have people call in for tickets, or do a waiting list.
The theater holds 1100 patrons, and we were going to be able to use the other theaters in the arts center as well, so that number would have risen to closer to 2000 people.
That's just too many people to call in a short timeframe to order tickets, or pick them up the day of the performance.
The CEO of the orchestra came to me and asked me to coordinate the theater arrangements for the day.
The trick was how to handle potentially 2000 people without it turning into a mob scene.
I asked two friends of mine to help.
They were very smart, but also known for speaking out about things that weren't handled correctly.
I knew if I had them on my team, then things would be done right.
They understood that I was ultimately responsible for the event, but were also proud that I had asked them for their expertise-I needed them.
Between the three of us, we decided that the best bet was to put up stanchions in front of the theater so people could start to line up-and all seating would be first come, first served.
The day of the performance, one person stayed on the ground floor, another person went to the 2nd floor, and I stood on the stage where I could watch the patrons entering from all doors.
When it started to look full, I told them to slow down the number of people they were letting in, and then they could ask the rest of the people in line to get ready to walk to the other theaters down the hall.
I remember that our CEO had been against the stanchions when we proposed them, but when she saw how well everything flowed that day, she came up to me later to praise me and my team, and admitted that we had a great idea.
That meant a lot to us.
Take a look at those 2 examples.
Note the little details I added that give more weight to the example.
First, I clearly state where I was working when I had this experience.
I then provide concrete numbers so my interviewer can picture just how many people were involved and the scope of the project.
I also included information on specifically what the challenge was in coordinating the event.
I talked about why I chose my two friends to work with me.
I provided details about what I specifically did the day of the event.
In conclusion, I state that my CEO was pleased with the results, even more so because she had been against the plan in the beginning.
Are you giving interviewers enough detail in your examples? Think of how you feel when a friend is telling you an especially captivating story that's rich with detail-it's like you're right there reliving it with them.
You want your interviewer to feel the same way.
Don't worry about the length of the example necessarily--you don't want to ramble on for 20 minutes, but a detail-rich 3-4 minutes is good.
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