Lately, I have been required to ask competency-based questions during dozens of interviews. These questions aim to reveal a person’s strengths and weaknesses through their own descriptions of specific experiences. My task is to ask about a situation, find out how the candidate approached the challenge, and then learn what they learned or took away from that event.
These questions cover a wide swath of career territory. Each candidate is unique, so their approaches vary, too. However, when it comes to revealing lessons learned, there is a common thread that seems impossible to ignore: slow down.
Question #1: Describe a time when you made a mistake and had to publicly correct it. The stories vary, but the lesson learned is consistent across almost all candidates: slow down, avoid the mistake, double check the work before it goes out the door.
Question #2: Describe a time when you had to do something you’d never done before. The story could be about an unexpected promotion, a big project or covering for someone who didn’t show up to a conference. The lesson learned? Go slow, think it through, ask questions.
Question #3: Describe a time when you had to provide negative feedback to someone. The stories were about delivering performance reviews, discovering errors and arguing with a mother-in-law. The lesson learned: go slowly, don’t be rushed, take time to be aware of the other person’s reaction and hear their point of view.
When you face a challenging situation in work or in life, think forward to how you will look back on this event. Apply the age-old lesson so many people learned the hard way: Slow down. It’s simple. It’s effective. And it is definitely groovy,