Describe a Time When You Needed to Influence Others
How to answer the interview question: Describe a time when you needed to influence others to change their opinion and decision.
Decision-making in business and the world of work is crucial for growth and development, so is persuasion. One of the core skills recruitment managers and employers look out for in candidates is persuasion skills. The ability to convince or influence clients, your benefactor, and other individuals to rethink and change their opinion on a particular subject matter, is a trait every organization wants in job applicants. Remember, there is growing and burgeoning competition; several companies and firms offer similar services. Therefore, recruiters are after applicants that can think outside the box.
When faced with numerous qualified individuals to choose from a selection pool of applicants, organizations and interviewers use behavioral questions to make a choice. Your ability to effectively answer such questions can make or mar you. Often, experienced or qualified candidates that ace such questions get the job. Also, having the best result or highest years of experience isn’t enough these days; your ability to display or apply acquired knowledge to solve problems arguably matters most. Moreover, the world is looking for problem solvers; recruitment managers want to hire that candidates who can be creative, intuitive, innovative, and persuasive.
The interview question-describe a time when you needed to influence others to change their opinion and decision is a good example of a behavioral question asked by hiring managers and organizations. Recruitment managers ask this question to find out what candidates or job seekers do to influence others. Additionally, interviewers want to know if you consider yourself to be a leader or a follower. Similarly, hiring agencies want to decipher how you get others to do what you want. Finally, the question seeks to find out how much of an influencer you are, or can be.
Some several situations or scenarios can come up in the workplace. The way employees react, think, respond and act matter a lot. Some of these situations might even lead to chronic disagreement. How do you successfully pitch an idea on marketing to team members for example? How do you make coworkers key into your proposal and forget theirs? You should see this question as the perfect opportunity to showcase your professional credibility, communication abilities, and influencing prowess. Therefore, make sure you demonstrate your skills adequately and show that you are a qualified candidate. Thus, this article will discuss why this question is asked during interviews, how to approach the question, and give sample answers to the question.
Why Recruitment Managers ask the Question
Behavioral questions such as this are asked during interviews because of the following reasons;
- Organizations and employers want to evaluate applicants’ persuasion skills: There are benefits attached to having workers with excellent persuasion skills. It boosts sales, helps reduce conflicts, and promotes teamwork. The ability to construct logical arguments and negotiate with coworkers and other members of staff is important to many jobs worldwide. Employers also get to find out and assess potential employees’ motivational capabilities.
- Employers want you to demonstrate that you can choose the right style of communication: Effective communication is essential in the world of work. Choosing the right style and technique for communication is crucial when you want to influence others to accept what you are proposing. Most importantly, choose or select the right type of communication that will suit a specific situation or a particular person’s need. When you communicate or tell a story about a time you influenced someone, you show that you understand how to identify and meet the needs of others or solve specific challenges.
- Recruitment managers want to determine if you’re a professional whom others respect: When you influence someone, that person respects you enough to change their previous opinion, adhere to your plan or accept your ideas. Employers often look for candidates with this professional credibility and admiration.
- Interviewers are looking for candidates who can think critically: Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skilfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information gathered from, or generated by observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication as a guide to belief and action. Hiring managers are not looking for candidates who can bully others and get their way, but rather candidates who can think critically about problems and communicate their ideas well.
Things to Consider when Answering the Question
The following steps or tips should be considered when preparing to answer the question;
- Research and read about the role and company culture
- Think about your persuasion skills
- Choose a specific example devoid of ambiguity
- Adopt and Use the STAR method
- Be positive, confident, and bold
Research and read about the role and company culture: Every advertised position should come with responsibilities and duties. It is, therefore, vital to read about such roles and focus more on desirable and preferred skills. Also, most roles come along with the company’s vision, mission statement, values, and structure. Where such information is not attached to the job posting, look for it online or through other resources available. You can ask a current and previous employee for such information as well. In relation, you should focus specifically on the organization’s ideals that relate to working with other employees as part of a team. Where possible, your answer to the question above should be aligned with the company’s culture. For instance, if the company you’re interviewing with emphasizes collaboration between departments, you might want to talk about using your influencing skills during an interdepartmental project.
Think and talk about your persuasion skills: Consider your persuasive abilities; employers often ask about examples of times when you persuaded or influenced someone because they want to understand your motivational or persuasive skills. The following persuasive abilities should suffice;
- Ability to identify other’s needs and emotions.
- Active listening
- Clear and effective communication of ideas.
- Ability to build a meaningful relationship.
- Ability to model the behaviors you want others to imitate
- Ability to remain calm and assertive
- Ability to negotiate
- Ability to think critically and use logical reasoning to construct an argument.
- Ability to prove that you’re an expert or a credible source on a particular issue.
- Ability to emphasize the positive aspects of a choice or situation.
Choose a specific example devoid of ambiguity: The question rings of specificity; the interviewer wants you to talk about a scenario or time you influenced someone to change their opinion or decision. You shouldn’t beat around the bush; make sure your answer is unambiguous as well. Your answer should be a specific example from a time in your life and should have a clear beginning, middle, and end. The selected example should have objective results so that the recruitment manager can see your positive influence on the other individual or group.
Adopt and use the STAR method: STAR is an acronym that stands for situation, task, action, and result. The STAR framework enables individuals or groups to create clear and simple short stories about their lives that answer behavioral questions such as; describe a time when you needed to influence others to change their opinion and decision. The elements of the STAR framework are briefly described below;
- Situation: Your story should have a context; determine two or three critical details that can help your interviewer understand what happened before the example you’re about to share.
- Task: Explain briefly what your responsibility or goal was concerning the situation.
- Action: Tell your interviewer what specific steps you took to solve or accomplish the challenge, situation, or goal. This part should be the longest section so that the interviewer understands your work ethic.
- Result: Describe the outcome of your actions. If possible, share tangible or data-driven changes that resulted from your help or abilities.
Be positive, confident, and bold: Keep your answer positive; take care not to insult the ideas or individuals who initially opposed your actions, ideas, or arguments. Instead, focus on how you used your persuasion skills to help others agree or contribute to your plans or ideas.
Sample Answer to the Question
An experienced Monitoring and Evaluation Officer
In my current position, my department had been continuing to work with a specific vendor for many years simply due to inertia. It was easiest to simply renew the vendor’s contract each year, rather than consider other alternatives. While my manager initially objected to considering alternatives, I explained that I would like to take the time to evaluate the top vendors in the field and present the alternatives. It would still be his final decision on who to work with over the long term. We considered a total of five vendors, including the incumbent. The result was the selection of a new vendor with better features and functionality for our department at a cost savings of more than $50,000.