Being able to tell better stories when applying behavioral programming for job interviews
Demonstrate, don't tell
This is something you have likely heard before. Your 10th grade English teacher might have something to do with it. Perhaps career services in college had something to do with it. “Remember: demonstrate, don't tell.”
Also, this is good advice. There are no right or wrong answers in answering behavioral questions (like “Tell me about yourself”) in coding interviews, but a good answer versus a great answer depends on demonstrating the solution over explaining it.
What people may not realize is that they, themselves, fail to follow this advice because they are guilty of "showing" rather than "telling." They are suggesting that you demonstrate your expertise, but they should be demonstrating how to demonstrate. That is the most difficult part!
Here are three tips that can be applied to demonstrate or display additional information.
Sprinkle with technical examples
Imagine the two answers to the software interview question, "Tell me about yourself."
First of all:
I started programming about two years ago and have since completed various personal projects in the Java programming language. After several weeks of searching, I finally found a small company in my hometown and began working there as a consultant for about a year and a half. I like my job, but I'm interested in a new and exciting challenge that I think your company can handle.
Above one is the common answer that everyone gives but to stand out from the crowd, here is the best response that we can give.
My interest in programming began because I wanted to build a social network site for dogs. The prototype wasn't very useful to me, but it was good enough to get me a job at a smaller technology company in my hometown. There was an excellent Hacker News post about the social network that your company is building that I read the other month. My personal scaling challenges appear to aid me in my overall development, allowing me to expand my scope of work and thereby expand my capacities.
In my opinion, the second answer provides a lot more insight into the candidate.
So, why did you choose to expand? As a result of the unique details. An interviewer will not remember the tenth person to say, “I'm looking for a new challenge.” Rather, they will remember the person who attempted to build a social network for dogs and their company's name became famous after they appeared on Hacker News.
It's important to include all the relevant details in the writing. Keep your eyes open for possibilities that allow you to put the specificities to use, especially if they are quirky, amusing, surprising, or otherwise memorable.
Tell the story of your life
To answer this question, consider other common scenarios such as "Why do you want to work here?"
It is common for job seekers to compare their values to those of the company or team they are interviewing with.
To me, there's nothing more exciting than both technical blogging and open source. It is in my best interest for your company to be doing some open-source work, and I think you understand that.
That's a great response. However, I think it would be more impressive to incorporate a personal anecdote about the values and include it in your answer.
About two years ago, when I was still fairly new to programming, I was working on this challenging issue. I came across a blog post written by an engineer from the company where she discussed the ways in which her team was working to solve the problem. She included a piece of code that she had open-sourced. I was glad that she went out of her way to write about her team's experiences and the solutions they came up with. I did that because of that!
When I started to discover the open source, it was as if a door was opening in front of me. I have an ambition to work with more engineers like that—who are working to better the community by explaining their work and serving as a resource for other members. And that is why I was so happy to see your team's shared content, both on your blog and on the company profile page on Github.
In the second response, it just seems as though he is being sincere. It highlights an ability to make a personal connection with open source and technical blogging rather than just delivering information.
You don't have to be a researcher to learn about the basics of a company, and you can always point to those things when you're meeting with people. Instead of telling a story about how those values have helped you or taught you something, tell a story about something that those values have enabled you to do.
Apply the speaking voice of someone else
This is a clever trick. In order to think like a customer, you must consider one standard behavioral question: "What is your greatest strength?"
If you want to say something to the interviewer, you might say:
Despite the fact that we have our differences, I am successfully working alongside others. I make sure my coworkers feel supported in even the most difficult circumstances.
However, a slightly detailed story is more effective for demonstrating this strength:
Ana is a coworker of mine who has been an engineer for about a decade. We've been working on this exceptionally complex and troublesome project together.
In the final stages, she said, "You really made things feel healthy for such a hellish project." I believe this is my greatest strength: I can work well with others even under difficult conditions.
People tend to respect your opinion more if you tell a story, because it gives you a chance to talk about something that other people have said about your best qualities. In this case, a ten-year tech veteran said you made the project feel less horrible. That kind of praise is far more credible when it comes from someone else.
It's important to consistently practice.
Remember these helpful tricks for conveying your message rather than just stating it:
Consider making details specific and memorable. Instead of "Personal Project", we refer to the Social Network for dogs.
Your life story is a great opportunity to tell others about your experience. When I can't find a solution to a tricky bug, I prefer to spend time looking for answers instead of making closed-source contributions.
To be more effective, you should also use the voice of someone else. rather than saying "You really made things feel healthy" you say "I work well with others."
A good place to start is to use these tactics on the questions below. As long as you remember, you can always go with a "tell" response in the beginning, and then later expand it to "show."
The biggest challenge to your career as an engineer may be your biggest strength.
Describe the bug you've encountered that's difficult to deal with.
What is the largest project you have ever completed?
For you, what programming language do you like the most? So, why did you choose to expand? So, why did you choose to expand?
To successfully navigate interpersonal challenges, how will you handle conflicts with your coworkers?
I'm glad you're aware how to be smart during Behavioral Interviews and If you manage to hit all of these points, then you're on the right track for your interview.
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