Describe a Time When You Helped a Friend

Interview Question: Describe a Time When You Helped a Friend

The interview process is aimed at getting the best candidate from a pool of job applicants. Organizations and businesses are looking for candidates that can be the best fit for the firm. Also, the competitive nature of work or business makes it paramount for employers to hire the best possible candidate. No company or organization wants to recruit a candidate that may become a liability and potentially make the company go backward. Thus, certain behavioral questions are asked during interviews by hiring managers; one such question is –describe a time when you helped a friend.

Teamwork has been emphasized and proven to be key or crucial to the success of every organization. Regardless of your experience and array of skills, you will be required to work in tandem with others at some point. In addition, you may be required to assist or help a coworker on short notice; a friend or colleague may require your help or expertise to get work done. Your ability and willingness to assist and help others achieve their goals is a desirable trait and skill that employers and firms seek for. Remember, the overall growth and development of the organization are paramount to the employer.

Relatively, the hiring managers and interviewers ask behavioral questions to decipher job applicants’ interpersonal skills. Generally, behavioral questions can be tricky; answering them requires finesse and tact. When asked to describe a time when you helped a friend, you are expected to display and showcase your ability to effectively collaborate, cooperate and coexist with other people. Therefore, try and elaborate on your communication skills amongst others while responding to the question. Additionally, the employer wants to be sure that you would be able to cover for a coworker when needed.

However, the interviewer is also interested in your ability to be professional when answering the question; although the question seems to be personal, ensure that you coin your response professionally or officially. In addition, try and relate your response to the role or position you are interviewing for. It will be an added advantage if you align your response to the vision of the organization on teamwork, collaboration, and cooperation. Thus, this article will discuss why the question is asked, provide tips on how to answer the question, and give a sample answer to the question.


Why Do Hiring Managers Ask the Question- Describe A Time When You Helped a Friend?

Enumerated below are some of the reasons why employers and organizations ask the question;

  • To determine or decipher the interpersonal skills possessed by job applicants.
  • To find out if you can communicate and collaborate effectively with others to complete a given task successfully.
  • To determine if you value or enjoy teamwork or if you prefer to get work done alone.
  • Also, interviewers ask questions to know how loyal, committed, and dedicated potential employees can be to the organization.
  • Emergencies are bound to happen at work; recruiters want to hire candidates that they can rely on to cover up for such emergencies.


The Best Way to Answer the Question- Describe a Time When You Helped a Friend

The best way to approach this question is by being honest; don’t create hypothetical situations. The following tips should suffice;

  • Give a detailed account of the situation where you helped a friend using the STAR method.
  • Make it clear that your responsibilities did not fall to the wayside
  • Explain how you realized the friend needed help.
  • Put the needs of the organization above your own needs.

Give a detailed account of the situation where you helped a friend using the STAR method: When it comes to answering the question appropriately, you should prepare a few anecdotes from your previous work experience or instances from when you were still in school so that you can talk about certain events in detail. A good way to structure your response is by implementing the STAR method. STAR is an acronym that denotes situation, task, action, and result.

  • Situation: You should describe the difficulties your friend had or was going through and why you were in the position to help
  • Task: Once the situation is established, talk about the main objective. What was your friend trying to achieve? What was the ultimate benefit to society?
  • Action: These are the steps you took to help your friend. Tell the interviewer what you did exactly. The actions should be described explicitly.
  • Result: After you have helped your friend, what was the outcome? Was the help beneficial? This should be a positive thing for the organization you are interviewing with because you want to convey to the interviewer that you could do the same at the job if hired.

Make it clear that your responsibilities did not fall by the wayside: Although teamwork is paramount to employers, they want to be assured that you won’t forget your responsibilities just because you are helping a friend or coworker. Therefore, don’t talk about how you helped a friend or coworker at the expense of a task you needed to do on your own. Also, make sure that you coin your answer to encompass your ability to tactfully multitask. The hiring manager will be impressed and thrilled to find out that you can carry out your responsibilities efficiently while helping a friend.

Explain how you realized the friend needed help: It is important to come across as an individual that notices the little things. How did you know that the friend needed help? What made you feel you were in a position to assist the friend? Similarly, the interviewer or hiring manager wants to know if you have excellent observational skills or vice versa.  Perhaps, you saw or observed that your friend was struggling with a project and you decided to step in and help. Crucially, organizations are interested in candidates who can notice an area that needs improvement. You should have a keen eye for details and elaborate on that skill during the interview.

Put the needs of the organization above your own needs: You don’t necessarily want to describe a story of a time when you helped or assisted a friend and you were rewarded or compensated in some capacity. Employers want candidates and applicants who can offer help or assistance because it is the right thing to do and the individual or organization needed it. Thus, when preparing your response, don’t focus on the ultimate reward you got from helping the friend.


Sample Answer to the question

When my friend was hired as a retail assistant at my previous job, I could tell that she was having problems dealing with customers and needed help. My supervisor was busy handling a new customer at that time, so he didn’t give the recruit adequate training and orientation. A myriad of paperwork was piling up and was not getting filed quickly; so whenever I had downtime, I offered to help my friend out a bit. I showed her some techniques to use to ensure customer satisfaction and file papers relatively quickly while not allowing her other duties and task to fall aside. We even used our lunch break during her first few weeks to go over some basic tips. After a few months of working there, she was able to fly through her tasks and she eventually got a promotion a year later for all the good work she had done.

Interview Questions

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