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The Best Way to Answer Behavioral Interview Questions (Re-Post)

“Tell me about a time when…”

UGH! Behavioral interview questions. No job seeker enjoys answering these questions. Myself included. They’re just as dreaded as the “What’s your greatest weakness?” question.

I can remember back in grad school doing my first mock interview with the career center on campus. It was very intimidating, even more so than any real interview I’ve ever had. They recorded it which of course was even more horrifying. And I was really bad at answering the behavioral interview questions.

It was actually this experience and what I learned from it that made me decide to go into career advising. A year later I was working as an intern in the same career center. Eventually I became the director of a college career center and then started my own career coaching business.

You have more experience than you think

I remember my mock interview like it was yesterday. A few years ago I found the video and watched the cringe-worthy performance (through my fingers). I’d used the same example for every behavioral question because I thought I didn’t have any other “real” experience to pull from. After all, I was just a lowly graduate assistant with only one assistantship under my belt.

But now I realize this wasn’t true. I could’ve pulled from so many other experiences for more variety of answers:  my part-time jobs from college, my work as an orientation leader at my undergrad, my leadership role in my student organization, my class projects. I could’ve even pulled from my work on my passion projects.

The tried-and-true method vs. modern experience

The formula for how to answer behavioral interview questions hasn’t changed much since my grad school days. But the way people work has, therefore giving job seekers a new way to sell themselves in an interview.

Here’s what I mean. When answering a behavioral interview question, you always want each answer to follow a method similar to the “CAR” method:

  • C:  State the CHALLENGE you faced.
  • A:  Describe the ACTION you took.
  • R:  Indicate the RESULTS of your action.

But unlike what you may have thought in the past, your examples don’t have to all come from traditional job experiences. Today, people have side-hustles, freelance assignments, passion projects, and greater access to creative pursuits. These bodies of work may be very different, but they all demonstrate your creativity, project management skills, and problem-solving skills. All things employers seek in potential employees.

The secret to perfect behavioral interview answers

The secret to answering behavioral interview questions perfectly is to gather relevant examples from ALL your sources of experience (paid, unpaid, volunteer, stuff done for fun, etc.). Then, tell a single interesting story for each question that connects the dots for your listener. Show how your “soft skills” used on your own projects will benefit the company on their projects. Hard data (quantifiable results) and testimonials (qualitative results) will drive home your points, so always include them in each answer.

Also, anticipate further questions. When practicing your examples, listen for holes in your information triggering a need for clarification or more details. A friend or a career coach is more likely to help you recognize those holes, so get assistance. By addressing those areas right away, the interviewer won’t have to keep probing. You’ll be a hero because you made their job easier by providing all the important info without being asked or reminded to.

The best way to prepare

There’s no way to prepare for every commonly asked behavioral interview question. There are just too many. The only way to really predict which ones you’ll get is to look on Glassdoor to see if there are any interview questions listed for your particular job opening. However there’s no guarantee they’ll ask the same questions this time around.

Instead, the best use of your time and energy is to look at the list of required skills in the job ad, and come up with a different story for when you’ve previously performed each skill. This is more manageable since this list is finite. Always choose stories that show your success in performing the skill.

By focusing on the list of skills, you’ll have enough examples to use as answers for the unexpected questions. Most importantly, you’ll be able to connect those dots from your past experience to your future experience. Don’t forget to use the CAR method when drafting your stories. Doing so keeps your stories organized with a beginning, middle, and end.

Pulling from ALL your experience is a great strategy for someone who has a lengthy gap in their employment history. It’s also a good approach for recent grads with little to no professional experience. Click here to see how this has worked successfully for Tanner Christensen who landed a job as a product developer at Facebook with very little experience.

For more job interview tips, sign up for the on-demand program, Steps to Acing the Interview. You’ll learn how to answer other commonly asked interview questions, questions you should be asking, and more, resulting in more job offers!

Sunday Inspiration: The Encouragement of Solitude

Welcome to “Sunday Inspiration,” a Sunday devotional for those seeking spiritual encouragement in the pursuit of their passions. This edition of “Sunday Inspiration” is an excerpt from my newly-released book, a 30-day devotional entitled Spiritual Understanding & Prayer on a SUP (Hilliard Press). The book is available online through Hilliard Press and on Amazon (profits go to support my mission trip to Brazil with Justice & Mercy Amazon).

Day 23:  The Encouragement of Solitude

But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray. (Luke 5:16 NASB)

One of my spiritual gifts is the gift of encouragement. In every type of professional work I’ve done, I’ve been able to use my gift to serve my clients and my students. Likewise, in certain friendships and relationships, I’ve had the opportunity to give comfort and confidence to others in times of sorrow and anxiety, and have also had it reciprocated. To get to operate in my spiritual gift is an encouragement to me.

I remember listening to a podcast series by a well-respected pastor on the topic of encouragement. He said that people are in more need of reassurance and relief today than ever in the history of the world. He described different ways we can be an encouragement to others, and how we can be an encouragement to ourselves when we need it most. The pastor said one way we can reassure and restore ourselves is through solitude.

Solitude may be something some people are uncomfortable with, but I’ve learned to relish it, even when I don’t feel like being alone. Here’s what the pastor had to say about solitude:

God used certain people in a mighty way, but before He could, He had to teach them to be alone, teach them what isolation was all about. There is ministry in solitude and if we don’t learn how to cultivate that, we will have a very difficult time encouraging ourselves in the Lord. To be quiet so you can talk to God and so God can talk to you. King David understood the importance of getting alone, and so did Jesus. If a man considers his time to be so valuable that he cannot find time to keep quiet and to be alone, that man will eventually be of no value to anyone. To spend all of one’s time with people is soon to have nothing to give any of them of any value. ~Dr. David Jeremiah

For me, there are a few things I do in solitude that serve as a big encouragement for me. First and foremost, it’s reading the Word at the start of each day and recording in my journal what I think God is saying to me through His Word, as if He were talking directly to me. (Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32 NIV) When I later go back and read what I’ve recorded, it’s often what I needed to be reminded of at exactly that point in time, or it’s to confirm that He did what He promised He would do.

The sounds of nature are also an encouragement to me. Being alone outside, especially paddling on the water, is soothing for me. God’s Word reminds me of the hope I have in Him, while being on the water makes me forget my sorrows and anxieties, at least for those few hours. The rhythm of the paddle strokes, coupled with the sounds of the water and the birds, make everything just melt away for me.

I love paddling on my own when I’m feeling discouraged (which was how I was feeling the day I wrote this). But I also enjoy paddling with a friend or a group who can also serve as an encouragement. I hope whoever is reading this is finding encouragement from the words God has put on my heart to share.

What are your own spiritual gifts (take the spiritual gifts test)? How are you using them, and are you getting encouragement from using them in various areas of your life? Spend some time in solitude to reflect on how you can better fulfill your purpose.

Side Note

Just last weekend I took a retreat on my own that required complete silence and solitude. It was a reminder of just how true the words of this post are. I encourage you to find time, even if it’s just for 15 minutes a day, to get alone and be with yourself and with God. You’ll return to your daily routine refreshed and renewed.

Purchase the entire 30-day devotional

If you enjoyed this excerpt, I invite you to purchase the entire book. If you’re local to Nashville, you’re also invited to my book signing on June 24th, 11am to 1pm, at Paddle Up (525 Basswood Ave., Nashville, TN 37209) for popsicles, paddles, and paperbacks!

SUP

Books are $12 and the event includes a signed copy of my book, 15% off one paddle board rental the day of or any time during the 2017 season (courtesy of Paddle Up), and free Padrino’s Pops popsicles to the first 10 people!

If you can’t make it to the book signing, you can also purchase a copy online. Profits support Justice and Mercy International’s Amazon mission trips.

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7 Comfortable and Easy Networking Tips for Introverts

Most people, especially introverts, find networking to be very awkward. Here are 7 tips to make networking a little easier and more comfortable.

#1. Start with who you know

Start with the people you already know and feel comfortable with. Invite them to go with you to events and ask them to introduce you to the people there they know. Be sure to take someone who’s extroverted so they can also introduce you to the new people they’ll easily meet there.

#2. Have your contacts give a “heads-up”

When friends give you the name of one of their contacts, ask them to let their contact know ahead of time you’ll be contacting him or her. This gives the person a “heads up” and it will be clear why you’re contacting him or her.

#3. Email before calling

If you’re going to make cold calls to industry people, start first by sending them an email or connecting with them on LinkedIn.

#4. Develop talking points

It’s good for you to know what you want to talk about before aimlessly engaging in conversation. Decide ahead of time which questions you want to ask and what points you want to make. Also, frame your conversation with small talk. Start and end your networking conversations with small talk, and have the middle part of it be about business. 

#5. Network during your peak time of energy

If you have more energy in the mornings, attend networking breakfasts. If evenings are your peak time of energy, go to events held after work hours. Know what works best for you. Be selective by only attending those events which work best for your energy level and what you hope to gain.

#6. Set goals and allow time to re-charge

If you know you’re usually tapped out after talking to only 3 or 4 people, then go to an event with the goal of meeting only 3 or 4 new people. Afterward, go home or to a quiet place to re-charge.

#7. Push through the discomfort

Acknowledge any discomfort you feel and push through it. While it may be more comfortable to network via email or LinkedIn, you eventually have to get out from behind the computer. If you still feel intimidated by the idea of attending a networking event with numerous people, start with one-on-one meetings and informational interviews.

For more easy networking tips for both introverts and extroverts, check out paNASH’s on-demand program The Secret to Successful Networking: How to Do It Naturally and Effectively. Learn about informational interviewing, networking etiquette, and when/where to network. As a result, you’ll be better prepared and will feel more at-ease in future networking situations. And you’ll make stronger connections with those who have hiring power.

Sunday Inspiration: Don’t Look Down

Welcome to “Sunday Inspiration,” a Sunday devotional for those seeking spiritual encouragement in the pursuit of their passions. This edition of “Sunday Inspiration” is an excerpt from my newly-released book, a 30-day devotional entitled Spiritual Understanding & Prayer on a SUP (Hilliard Press). The book is available online through Hilliard Press and on Amazon (profits go to support my mission trip to Brazil with Justice & Mercy Amazon).

Day 1:  Don’t Look Down

But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!” (Matthew 14:30 MSG)

After first seeing and hearing about stand up paddle boarding (SUP), I decided I was going to try it, but not on the ocean. I wanted to try it first on flat water, and figured there had to be a place near me here in Nashville since we have a large river and several lakes.

After a quick search online, I found a place at the marina closest to me that rents boards and offers a beginner course, making the thought of trying this new sport a little less intimidating. I invited a few friends to join me, but didn’t have any takers. I didn’t let the fact that I’d have to go solo stop me. I’ve been to the other side of the world to Australia by myself. I go hiking and biking by myself all the time. I could do this by myself too. And besides, I knew I wouldn’t be truly alone because God is always with me, and there would be some other newbies in the beginner class I could meet.

Not personally knowing anyone who had previously tried SUP, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be harder than it looked or easier than it looked. Would I have the balance to get up and stay up on the first try? I mean, you’re basically standing on water! I was sure it was something that probably doesn’t come naturally, at least not at first.

Despite how hot it was that day, I didn’t want to end up swimming with turtles in the Cumberland River if I could help it. So before heading out to the marina I prayed, “Lord, please let me be able to get up on the board on the first try and stay standing up.” (It’s true you can pray anytime about anything!)

Not only did God answer that prayer, but throughout the process of the beginner’s lesson, He showed me just how much this experience of learning SUP is a direct parallel to some of the lessons in His Word. For instance, just as I was about to stand up for the first time, the instructor told me to keep my focus on the horizon and not look down or I would likely fall in the water. As soon as she said that, I immediately thought of the story of Peter when he walked on water with Jesus:

As soon as the meal was finished, he insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people. With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night.

Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves. At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared out of their wits. “A ghost!” they said, crying out in terror.

But Jesus was quick to comfort them. “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.”

Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.”

He said, “Come ahead.” Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:22-30 MSG, 31-33 NIV) emphasis added

Peter started to sink because he took his focus off Jesus.

One of the other things the instructor told us was, “Your board will go where your eyes go.” This is why it is so important for us to guard what we look at and watch. If we take our focus off of God and peer down the path of darkness and destruction, before we know it we’re likely to be steering ourselves in that direction and heading down that road.

Take time like Jesus did to be by yourself and pray. Be like Peter and take a step in faith. Don’t look down. Keep your eyes on God, and when you feel like you’re sinking, reach out for Jesus’s loving hand. He will catch you.

Purchase the entire 30-day devotional

If you enjoyed this excerpt, I invite you to purchase the entire book. If you’re local to Nashville, you’re also invited to my book signing on June 24th, 11am to 1pm, at Paddle Up (525 Basswood Ave., Nashville, TN 37209) for popsicles, paddles, and paperbacks!

SUP

Books are $12 and the event includes a signed copy of my book, 15% off one paddle board rental the day of or any time during the 2017 season (courtesy of Paddle Up), and free Padrino’s Pops popsicles to the first 10 people!

If you can’t make it to the book signing, you can also purchase a copy online. Profits support Justice and Mercy International’s Amazon mission trips.

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How I Launched My Passion Project (and how you can too)

At the start of 2017, I challenged my readers to begin a passion project. I encouraged them to take the ideas they’ve had burning inside them for some time now, and start implementing them. The new year was a good time to add their passion project to their goals for 2017. I planned to join them with my own passion project, a 30-day devotional that combines three of my passions:  faith, writing, and stand up paddling.

How My Passion Project Began

My own passion project began much like the way the passion project process is described in Niklas Goeke’s article “How to Start a Passion Project One Day At a Time.” It started out simply as something I thought would be fun. I’d been enjoying a newly-discovered passion, stand up paddling, and was noticing several parallels between paddling and Biblical principles.

I thought it would be fun to record some of those spiritual epiphanies in writing, specifically on a personal blog. I set up the blog, named it “Spiritual Understanding & Prayer (SUP) on a SUP,” and began writing. However, I didn’t really promote the blog since I was just doing it for myself. Only a few friends knew about it and followed it.

A Greater Purpose

Fast forward two years. My publisher asked me for a 2nd book, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about. Originally I was thinking perhaps a follow-up to my first book Advance Your passion projectImage.

But God had a greater purpose in mind. Instead, I started thinking about a compilation of my personal blog posts on spirituality and stand up paddling. My publisher liked the idea and suggested putting it in the format of a daily devotional.

By the end of 2016 I was weeding through all my posts of my paddling adventures to choose just the right ones for my next book. I started reformatting and editing them around the same time I’d challenged my readers to pursue their own passion projects.

That’s when it dawned on me I could use my passion project for a bigger purpose. I could use the profits from book sales to help fund my very first mission trip I’m taking in July. This idea was a perfect fit since my paddling excursions mainly occur on rivers and my mission trip will take place along Brazil’s Amazon River.

Obstacles are Inevitable

Of course, when working on such a project, there are times when obstacles will occur. It’s just inevitable. For me, it was an unexpected surgery in late January and an extended recovery due to complications from the surgery. I couldn’t work on my passion project (or any projects for that matter) for over a month.

Luckily I’d submitted most of my manuscript prior to my surgery. But this set-back was still going to cause a delay in the release of the book. I did my best to not let this get me down. I picked up where I left off on my project as soon as I was able.

There’s also another hiccup in this story. Originally, my mission trip was to occur in early March. But since there weren’t enough participants from my church, I got moved to a trip with participants from another church who are going in July. I found this out several months before I knew I’d have to have surgery.

If the March timetable had worked out for my church, I wouldn’t have been able to go because I was still recovering from my surgery at that time. I’d already raised about half of the funds for the trip, so I would’ve been really disappointed.

God’s Timing Is Perfect

Despite having to have a 2nd surgery in late April, I’m now doing much better physically. In fact I’m back on the water just in time for the beginning of paddle season.

Most importantly though, my book is now available! God’s timing is always perfect! I’m so excited about how He plans to use the book for His Glory and the impact it will have. Not only on its readers, but also on those benefiting from the profits – the people in the tiny communities and congregations situated along the banks of the Amazon River.

Spiritual Understanding & Prayer on a Stand Up Paddleboard is a reminder to not just listen to God when you’re reading your Bible and praying, but also when you’re working and playing. This is true no matter what your own hobbies are, what kind of work you do, or what your personal passion projects are.

I’m so honored and grateful that champion SUP racer and pro surfer Candice Appleby penned the foreword to the book. She is a sister in Christ who openly shares her faith in the professional SUP community. She continually points her achievements in SUP and surfing back to God, always giving Him the glory.

How You Can Make an Impact

There are several ways you can also make an impact. First, by starting your own passion project and seeing where it leads. Follow Goeke’s suggestions in the article linked above and you’ll have the confidence to bring it to fruition and accomplish what God wants to do through you.

Second, you can contribute to my passion project by purchasing a copy of Spiritual Understanding & Prayer (SUP) on a Stand Up Paddleboard for only $12. One hundred percent of the profits go toward travel expenses and supplies for the mission trip to the Amazon. Purchase one of two ways:

  • In person at my book signing on Saturday, June 24, 11am to 1pm, at Paddle Up (525 Basswood Ave., Nashville, Tn 37209), rain or shine.
  • Online at http://bit.ly/SUPdevotional.

Even if you purchase online, I’d love to see you and sign your copy at the book signing if you’re in the area. Those attending and purchasing a book will receive 15% off a paddle board rental for that day or for any time during the 2017 season. Also, the first 10 people to purchase a book at the signing will receive a free Padrino’s Pops popsicle in your choice of flavor!

Thank you in advance for your support of this passion project. Your purchase creates a ripple effect in God’s Kingdom like a single drop of water does in a vast ocean!

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