In my last post I talked about how you can use behavioral interviewing techniques to succeed in job interviews. I also mentioned that many employers use behavioral interviewing techniques to predict how you will act in the future. For example, if they want to know how well you work under pressure, the interviewer might ask: "Tell me about a time when you had to complete a tough project to a very tight deadline."
I received this question in my email this morning from a reader:
In a behavioral interview, if you are asked about a situation that never happened to you in your career should you just say "This never happened" or make up a fictitious story?
You must definitely be honest.
That's rule #1 for your entire job search in my opinion, since being false in any way may result in you getting a job you're not really suited for. If you are asked a question and have never been in that situation, just be honest and straightfoward. If you say "I honestly don't think that's ever happened to me" the interviewer can ask another question to try and get the information they're looking for.
Alternatively if you can tell what's at the root of the question, you might be able to answer with a different example. For instance, let's say you're asked: "Tell me about a time you worked with someone who was really challenging to deal with. How did you manage the relationship?" In this case, it's obvious the employer wants to know how you have dealt with problematic co-workers (and beware, because there's a reason they're asking!).
If you have never been in this situation, you could either just say so, or you could go further "I've actually been lucky so far with my co-workers, but I did have a very challenging customer in my last job. He would always ... and what I did was ... " In other words, look for what's behind the question and address that issue with a different example.
But if this seems to complicated, or you're a little nervous anyway in interviews, just stick to a polite explanation that you've never been in that situation.
Never, never, NEVER make up a fictitious story.