How would you answer this interview question?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Chat' started by hicks, Feb 15, 2008.

  1. hicks

    hicks Member

    I've been to a couple of interviews where I was asked something along the lines of:

    Suppose one of your colleagues was doing something a certain way, but you had a different idea of how to achieve the same thing which was better or more efficient. How would you convince them to do it your way?

    What sort of answer do you think the interviewer looking for here? Or maybe what is the wrong type of answer to give?
  2. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    Beat the dozy swine with a 2x4 until they submit? :D

    This is one of those "how much of a team player are you" kind of questions. They're looking for you to describe ways of building consensus, getting what the jargon calls "buy-in" from all your colleagues. A good stock answer would be something like "I'd ask if my colleague minded me trying it my way for a shift/day/week and then review the results with them afterwards with a view to proving my ideas in practice" OR "I'd ask for any ideas on how to improve [the process in question] and include my idea as one of those for review/discussion. That way I could get feedback from my colleagues on my thoughts. Then we'd test the ideas in practice and pick the best"

    A bit woolly, but it's a woolly kind of question, designed to draw out your views on teamworking rather than specific proposals. Of course if you have a firm example of a time when you've actually done this, that's even better.
  3. hicks

    hicks Member

    Oh nice! Yes I can see what they were fishing for. The question threw me a bit, because it was asked in a techy interview, rather than by a HR droid.
  4. Pav

    Pav Member

    This does actually work. Take one on the chin and let em rip apart the status quo. Then, once everyone's agreed it needs changing, give em your plan.
  5. lilz

    lilz Member

    ne one heard that advert on smooth 106.6 bout the interview...bit david brent stylee, makes me laugh every time :D completely irrelevent though
  6. steve butler

    steve butler Active Member

    I would laugh if only I knew what you were talking about!

    Ahh, got it, ne - any, bout - about, all this labour saving then you use a word like irrelevant.

    Oh I love being a grumpy old man :wink:
  7. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    Interviews are always loaded full of questions like this. I have always gone on the offensive by answering the question, then saying 'does that answer your question?'. That usually makes them feel uncomfortable and they won't ask any more airy fairy questions. I also have a long list of difficult questions to make them squirm, too!
  8. Bayerd

    Bayerd Active Member

    Start off by asking them what they are doing and what they need to achieve (even if you know the answer) then offer help and suggestions to complete the task, adding anecdotes of how you've been involved in something similar and how you went about it and what you found to be best results.

    Or, "No! thick twit! not like that, like this!"
  9. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    It's just as relevant in a tech scenario though - if you're working in a team that's inefficient and you have ways of improving said efficiently and effectiveness you'll be expected to do it...but you've got to take into account concern for impact, dignity at work and all the rest of the HR stuff as well as the results orientation :biggrin:
  10. hicks

    hicks Member

    Sure, but in a technical environment, surely knowledge and skills are more important. I know many people who have bad interpersonal and team skills (including managers), it kind of goes with the territory in a way. It's not as if I have to get into intense negotiation situations in my job.

    Possibly one of the most pointless questions I got asked lately was
    "Do you have any bad personal traits?"
    This is different from the question "What are your weaknesses", to which I can always reply with some obscure aspect of technology which has little relevance to the job. Actually I can see a point for the "weaknesses" question, as knowing this will allow you to better yourself. However, bad personal traits?? We all have them I suppose, but how to answer that question without totally shooting yourself in the foot!?
  11. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    It depends on the "culture and values" of the Company you work for.

    In a technical job, the skills and knowledge are core to the job - if you haven't got them, you can't do the job. It's everything else that defines your role. I'm always surprised at the amount of politics, negotiation and people skills are needed to be effective, regardless of being in that environment in a scientific capacity for donkeys years.

    How to make friends, influence people....and walk out at the end of it still having friends....particularly if you end up in a corner.

    BTW, there's no such thing as a weakness - only a 'development opportunity' ;)
  12. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Position the question into a context tMPers can understand a bit clearer ...

    Suppose one of your band was playing a solo a certain way, but you had a different idea of how to achieve the same thing which was technically better or more musical. How would you convince them to do it your way?

    - I think the trick is not to be perceived as condescending or patronizing and getting that individual on your side to appreciate your viewpoint and adapt to change.
  13. Bayerd

    Bayerd Active Member

    I think that's what I was trying to say!
  14. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    - banders should be used to this technique in my opinion ... with music-making being such a subjective area. :rolleyes:
  15. Cornet Nev.

    Cornet Nev. Member

    OK, then what about a bit of lateral thinking here and studying the way it is being done in context with, "the one thing you haven't spotted" that means it can only be done that way. Trying then to do it your way will fail and you look a prat. Remember that principle first, before trying to show someone a better way without fully thinking it through. I speak from personal experience on that one, I've been there and worn the "T" shirt.