At a complete loss for what to say in job interviews. Help?

Get new comments by email
You can cancel email alerts at anytime.
Comments (12)

Chris in Akron, Ohio

18 months ago

Hey guys, my name is Chris and I live in Ohio. Like the thread title says, I pretty much have no idea what to say in job interviews. I'm looking for a job in retail and in the job interviews they ask you things like: name a time where you solved a smaller problem before it became a larger one, name a time you completed a project, name a time you went out of your way to help someone, etc. I don't remember them all but you get what I'm talking about.

I don't want to sit here and give my life story (lol) but as a kid I was very sheltered and I never had to deal with real problems or conflict. So when they ask me these questions, I really don't know what to say. The honest answer to most of those questions would be "I've never done that." I mean of course we've all done projects but my last one was in middle school and I don't remember anything about it besides it being a science project. So instead I told them about a video game "project". I told them about the last video game map I created. I'm sure that sounds ridiculous to you guys but that's the best I could come up with lol. I can assure you my answers to the other questions were just as bad. Still, the manager gave me props for at least coming up with some kind of responses because according to her, some people just sit there stone-faced because they don't know what to say. At least I'm not the only one with this problem.

Anyway, I could really use some help. For all of you that have been asked these questions at interviews can you give me examples of what you said? I could just make something up but I'm not even sure what would be appropriate to say. If you guys can help I'd sure appreciate it. Thanks! :)

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (1) / No Reply - Report abuse

Hotdiggity in Pickering, Ontario

18 months ago

Those are common behavioral questions.
You can find lists of them all over the internet as well as typical answers to give.

Usually, interviewers will use these types of questions because they're inexperienced with conducting interviews and otherwise don't know what to ask. A retail manager would fall into this category.

You will need to learn and practice giving an answer to most of the common questions and where you don't have an answer, learn to dance around it by saying, "I don't have experience with that, but I do have experience doing this.. blah blah blah.."

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No (1) Reply - Report abuse

Calfornian in Hayward, California

18 months ago

I, too, hate these questions. I spent a really long time with the same employer. The job I did for them was pretty dialed in. It wouldn't have made an ounce of sense for me to be running around with my hair on fire. If I'd been doing that, really at any level, I'd have been a massive failure.

Even in the rare cases when something did go a bit sideways I just sat down and got it done/fixed.

But, in every interview, tell me about a time when.....

The other thing I get is "tell me about a problem coworker, and how you dealt with them". I've only really ever had one problem, it was a huge one, and I dealt with it by making their life a living hell, as was done to me, until eventually they quit. The entire thing sucked!

Yeah, I'm going to tell that story.

I keep resisting this but I'm going to have to sit down, come up with some stories, embellish them a bit, and roll with it. If the guy next to you is lying, and they are with these questions, you've got to at least stretch.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (3) / No Reply - Report abuse

Bluetea in Texas

18 months ago

Calfornian in Hayward, California said: I, too, hate these questions. I spent a really long time with the same employer. The job I did for them was pretty dialed in. It wouldn't have made an ounce of sense for me to be running around with my hair on fire. If I'd been doing that, really at any level, I'd have been a massive failure.

Even in the rare cases when something did go a bit sideways I just sat down and got it done/fixed.

But, in every interview, tell me about a time when.....

The other thing I get is "tell me about a problem coworker, and how you dealt with them". I've only really ever had one problem, it was a huge one, and I dealt with it by making their life a living hell, as was done to me, until eventually they quit. The entire thing sucked!

Yeah, I'm going to tell that story.

I keep resisting this but I'm going to have to sit down, come up with some stories, embellish them a bit, and roll with it. If the guy next to you is lying, and they are with these questions, you've got to at least stretch.

You can pick your profession, your industry and to some extent your company but you have no control over who your co-workers are. Most of them, you'd never come in contact with other than on the job.

Anybody can run a query but can you work with Helen over in Accounts Receivable? That's what they want to know. Helen is crazy.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (2) / No Reply - Report abuse

Cheshire in Mississauga, Ontario

18 months ago

OP what you need to do is open up a word document, sit down and think hard about various instances in past jobs where you had issues along the lines of the questions being asked. If you can't think of anything in particular...well its time to get creative.

Simply google 'behavioural questions' and sit and type down a response and say it out loud to yourself, so that you know what to say and you're not at a loss when asked. These kinds of questions are common...stupid but common. Stupid b/c if you haven't had to deal with those situations you have to basically make something up. They're asking b/c dealing with conflict or difficult to please customers is a part of the job, if you say 'i've never done that before' then you've just messed up your chance at the job if they're looking for someone experienced.

You can't go into interviews unprepared when its a behavioural interview. Write out your responses to common interview questions and you'll come across more confident and prepared.

An interview is a performance. You're putting on a show of 'your best self.' If you can do that and turn it more into a conversation and create a rapport between you and the interviewer then even better.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (2) / No Reply - Report abuse

Cheshire in Mississauga, Ontario

18 months ago

You can't expect to go into an interview and not have prepared before hand. That's just being naive. You should be spending some time reading about this stuff and preparing answers.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

Dog_Guy in Miami, Florida

18 months ago

Basically make up a story and lie. Maybe it's 1/2 true or 1/4 true but it doesn't matter if none of it is true, just BS them. As you become more experienced, you'll be able to do it on the run without thinking much about it.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (1) / No Reply - Report abuse

Bluetea in Texas

18 months ago

Chris in Akron, Ohio said: Hey guys, my name is Chris and I live in Ohio. Like the thread title says, I pretty much have no idea what to say in job interviews. I'm looking for a job in retail and in the job interviews they ask you things like: name a time where you solved a smaller problem before it became a larger one, name a time you completed a project, name a time you went out of your way to help someone, etc. I don't remember them all but you get what I'm talking about.

I don't want to sit here and give my life story (lol) but as a kid I was very sheltered and I never had to deal with real problems or conflict. So when they ask me these questions, I really don't know what to say. The honest answer to most of those questions would be "I've never done that." I mean of course we've all done projects but my last one was in middle school and I don't remember anything about it besides it being a science project. So instead I told them about a video game "project". I told them about the last video game map I created. I'm sure that sounds ridiculous to you guys but that's the best I could come up with lol. I can assure you my answers to the other questions were just as bad. Still, the manager gave me props for at least coming up with some kind of responses because according to her, some people just sit there stone-faced because they don't know what to say. At least I'm not the only one with this problem.

Anyway, I could really use some help. For all of you that have been asked these questions at interviews can you give me examples of what you said? I could just make something up but I'm not even sure what would be appropriate to say. If you guys can help I'd sure appreciate it. Thanks! :)

Get Acing the Interview by Tony Beshara. Used its like a buck on Amazon.com. Best book that I have read on interviewing to date.

Don't ever walk into an interview today and just try to "wing it". The competition will eat you for lunch.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

Dog_Guy in Miami, Florida

18 months ago

Bluetea in Texas said: Get Acing the Interview by Tony Beshara. Used its like a buck on Amazon.com. Best book that I have read on interviewing to date.

Don't ever walk into an interview today and just try to "wing it". The competition will eat you for lunch.

I just read some of the reviews (negative) on Amazon. Does he push the aggressive, assertive hard core sales pitch thing as a job seeker? I tried this in my younger days and found it got me nowhere, I suppose it may work for some people but I certainly was not getting good feedback on that approach.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (1) / No Reply - Report abuse

Joe Gagill in Monticello, New York

18 months ago

Dog_Guy in Miami, Florida said: Basically make up a story and lie. Maybe it's 1/2 true or 1/4 true but it doesn't matter if none of it is true, just BS them. As you become more experienced, you'll be able to do it on the run without thinking much about it.

I love it! That's not good for your soul you know.

To Chris,

Just say interviewer ask why did you become a nurse. You say, well in my senior year of high school I didn't know what to become until my grandmother came down with MS and was in constant pain. I knew right there I wanted to help others.

Say that's the truth. Problem is that it's BORING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Try the lie now. Well in my senior year of high school I didn't know what to become until one day when I was coming out of the bank and 2 cars collided head on. The woman who was ahead of me in line rushed to the scene to help the victims. She was a nurse and in the paper the next day it stated that if it wasn't for her both of the victims would of died. I knew right there that I wanted to be an emergency room nurse.

Unfortunately, the truth doesn't work. You need to tell big grandiose larger than life stories to get a job today over the competition.

This is Life 101.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (2) / No Reply - Report abuse

Bluetea in Texas

18 months ago

Dog_Guy in Miami, Florida said: I just read some of the reviews (negative) on Amazon. Does he push the aggressive, assertive hard core sales pitch thing as a job seeker? I tried this in my younger days and found it got me nowhere, I suppose it may work for some people but I certainly was not getting good feedback on that approach.

I didn't get that but he doesn't want you to go into an interview and "just be yourself". He says the competition will eat you alive today.

Beshara says the interview is not only the key to getting the job but has to be more of a sales pitch. You need to be prepared because hiring managers are inundated with candidates today. After awhile, we all look alike.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

Joe Gagill in Monticello, New York

18 months ago

Dog_Guy in Miami, Florida said: Basically make up a story and lie. Maybe it's 1/2 true or 1/4 true but it doesn't matter if none of it is true, just BS them. As you become more experienced, you'll be able to do it on the run without thinking much about it.

I hate saying what I said but truth is you can't just be a good person going into an interview nowadays. You have to have the resume of a Steve Jobs to get a job today...ANY JOB TOO.

Years ago you could walk in with your Kmart suit and be your boring self but not today.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (1) / No Reply - Report abuse

» Sign in or create an account to comment on this topic.