The interview question ‘how would you…?’ can be a tough one to answer, more about especially if the interviewer is asking you about something that you have not done before, web perhaps because you are interviewing for a more senior role or a role in a different sector.

Depending on the scenario and what you are being asked to talk about you might feel that you have ended up sounding like a text book, that you have given a model of managing a project or developing a strategy which sounds like it came from the text book. And how convincing is that?

So how can you convince someone that you really can do what ever it is that they have asked about?

Option 1. Tell a STARI story. Make sure that they know that you really have gone through all the steps necessary and that you know (using the I) that you might have to do it differently in this new job/organisation/role. Tell them how it would be different this time around.

Option 2. Pepperpot. In other words,  take the process that you are describing of change management,  delivering efficiency, improving customer service or whatever it is that you are describing and make a reference to an occasion (or several) you have done that.

  • So  Step one – I would draw up working group  -that’s what I did in Joe’s Café, got all the customers together
  • Step two – develop the business case – persuade the decision makers to go for it – that’s what I did in Fred’s factory-went round all the management team individually and sold them the cost savings
  • Step three – pilot the new way of working – at Joe’s we tried 15 different dishes to get the right one
  • Step four – launch the full programme – at Mary’s I had to brief advertising, get all the promo materials ready and approve the sign off
  • Step five – keep staff on board – at Cynthia’s we had 15 team briefers who came to a core brief each week and took the message back
  • Step six – manage the budget – at Mary’s we had to keep a really close eye on the expenditure, so I was looking at figures every morning..

What you are doing is pepperpotting the evidence throughout your description. Why does it work? Well it helps you demonstrate you can do something even if you have not done it before. It shows that you have multiple examples of working in that way. In this article I’ve kept the narrative very short but you might want to go into more depth.. show you know how to do something and illustrate by ‘asides’ of doing similar things. Your great CV will mean that you don’t need to explain all the context of each of those projects!  So think about those parts of the role description that you haven’t done before and work up your answer about how you would perform them, and pepper it with examples!