Whether you are the interviewer or the job seeker, understanding the present-day value of past challenges may help you frame the conversation. I call these problem solving stories.
Problem solving stories demonstrate action orientation, analytical abilities, and interpersonal skills.
Most interview questions are centered on strengths, capabilities and accomplishments. These are important but only get at a small portion of the total person. Don’t shy away from difficulties in the past. Use them to showcase problem solving skills. When I interview candidates, I ask them to talk about defining events from their past that have shaped who they are today. What I’m looking for is evidence of resilience and tenacity. Overcoming difficulty hones our skills and helps us develop the kind of strength that can only be gained through real life experience.
I just read Justin Menkes’ book Better Under Pressure: How Great Leaders Bring Out the Best in Themselves and Others. One particular line really stood out for me.
“Frustration, obstacles, & moments of doubt are actually required if we are to grow to our full potential.”
If difficulties are so important to defining the leader within, why would we leave them out of the interviewing process?
Another post you might enjoy: The Power of Uncertainty