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Behavioral Interview
Questions

| Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.

Question 1 of 30

How would you build a relationship with someone who intimidates you?

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Behavioral Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    How would you build a relationship with someone who intimidates you?

      Let's face it - we have all been in a situation where we find a co-worker, classmate, or even professor a touch intimidating. Show the interviewer that you have the smarts and maturity to recognize when intimidation creeps in. Also, highlight that you can overcome whatever factors are causing those feelings.

      Since this question is framed as, 'How would you...' it is acceptable to use a hypothetical story example, giving a general overview of how you would react in this situation.

      However, if you want to use a real-life example, try forming a response using the STAR method. STAR is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, Result. Organizing your response using this framework will ensure that you provide the interviewer with the right amount of information and detail to form a compelling answer.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I had a boss a couple of years ago who was very intimidating. I enjoy strong personalities; however, she didn't smile very often and was a bit flat with her emotions, which is sometimes hard to navigate. I don't think she meant to be, so I would remind myself before speaking to her, that she was human just like the rest of us. This approach helped me to communicate with her, with much less intimidation."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Admin interview

      "Earlier in my admin career, I had a couple of clients who would be very aggressive on the phone with their requests. I would sometimes get tripped up on my words when they called. I made myself a telephone script related to those specific instances and memorized it. This script helped me to remain on track with my thoughts when those more intimidating clients would call."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Manager interview

      "I have a great method that I teach my crew when they have to make cold calls or have a challenging conversation with an existing client. The trick is to practice, out loud, with someone else. Have that person throw possible objections out and then try to overcome them. Once you've had this conversation a few times in practice, it will be much easier in a real-life situation."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Marketing interview

      "As a marketing director, I often have to give presentations and pitches to groups of decision-makers, which can be quite intimidating. I stand tall and remind myself to be proud of my work, no matter what they may say or think. By doing this, I am oozing confidence, and the situation becomes so much easier. Also, I recently read about 'mirror neurons' in the brain. These neurons mean that people respond with similar facial expressions and demeanor so, if you are friendly and approachable, others are more likely to be as well."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Retail interview

      "When someone intimidates me, such as an upset customer who is demanding a refund that I cannot give, I will focus less on how I am feeling and more about how they are feeling. I remind myself that they are possibly having the worst day ever. By empathizing with them, the situation becomes less scary, for sure."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Sales interview

      "In my sales training, we learned a great deal about practicing comic visualization in intimidating situations. I have a few clients who are very alpha, and they are quite intimidating. I have used comic visualization, such as picturing them as babies or dancing in a funny costume. It's silly, and possibly one of the oldest tricks in the book, but it works!"

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Teacher interview

      "When I find myself face to face with an intimidating person - like an angry parent of a student, for instance, I work hard to validate their feelings. By agreeing with them whenever possible, we are often able to relate better to each other, making the overall situation feel a bit lighter."

      Darby's Answer
       for a Medical Manager interview

      "Many times patients come into a physician's office because they don't want the hassle of an emergency room visit. While some patient complaints can be accomodated in the office setting, guidelines for what situations can be treated in each type of care setting are put in place to make sure that patients are directed to the care setting that is best equipped to handle their problem. For instance, if a patient comes unannounced into my clinic with complaints of chest pain, the protocol is to send him to the nearest emergency room. Usually, in such situations, a triage nurse will do an initial triage and arrange for the patient to be sent to the emergency room. I usually accompany the staff to explain to the patient why the ER referral is being given and then help to accommodate his safe arrival to the emergency department. Often when patients have an understanding of why their care needs to transferred to a different facility or department, they are amenable to the suggestion and follow our instructions."

      Christina's Answer
       for a Reporter interview

      "I know how important it is to create working relationships with good contacts in the area. I have experience working well alongside police officers, and I know at your station I will be able to keep in touch with police officers well and be sure to keep their information quiet until they allow us to release it so we may build up trust with them."

      Christina's Answer
       for a Corporate Copywriter interview

      "I am a very friendly person who is also very good at creating contacts and remembering those who I have talked to before. I feel that my personable personality makes me a good fit for being in contact with the public."

      Christina's Answer
       for a Political Reporter interview

      "I find that I am a very friendly and compassionate person and I love to listen to people's stories. I am a great reporter because I listen to people who want to talk and they know they can trust me to be honest and tell my stories equally."

      Christina's Answer
       for a Foreign Correspondent interview

      "I have lived in many different states throughout my journalistic career and have had to develop completely new contacts quickly to do my job. I am ready to take on the challenge of doing that now abroad."

      Ryan's Answer

      "I plan to build stable relationships by being authentic and showing genuine excitement when it comes to getting to know everyone on the team. When meeting a new group, I go slow and earn their trust. I focus on delivering respect to others, and I offer them the chance to get to know me on a deeper level. As an experienced Training and Development Manager, I have met hundreds of professionals throughout my career. Over this time, I've learned to adapt and work harmoniously with all kinds of personalities. I like to get to know everyone and learn as much as I can from them about the job and their expectations. This way, I can do my best to personalize their experience in my training sessions."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Medical Transcriptionist interview

      "My colleagues will tell you that I am a team player and that I am someone they feel comfortable coming to when they need an extra hand or someone to talk to."

      Ryan's Answer
       for a Paramedic interview

      "When I join a new team, I like to introduce myself and ask a few questions about the person I am talking to. I like to get to know something about every team member, such as how long they have worked for the company, the call volume, and what they like about the area they serve. I think a great way to build professional relationships is to understand that everyone has something to learn from one another."

      Heather's Answer
       for a Pharmacist interview

      "On my first day, I plan on bringing in baked goods. My hobby is baking and I think a great way to break the ice is through food. I think that by bringing in goodies, my new coworkers will know that I'm genuine and will see my excitement to start the job and be part of the team."

      Anonymous Answer

      "I had someone that asked me why I do my job, and I said to help customers and he said "Bull Sh&@" to me and told me that everyone does it for the money in front of a bunch of people, which really intimidated me. I worked hard and tried to get to know him better to find out that he was in the military, and that was the way he talked a lot. Once I figured out that it wasn't personal, I tried to build a better relationship with him and get to know him even better."

      Kristine's Answer

      Great start. You chose a great example to share, but be careful to avoid over-generalizations about people in the military and saying curse words in an interview. You have a delicate situation to explain, and I have assisted with the wording.

      "I met a new employee who asked me why I do my job, and I said to help customers. He didn't believe me, and he even responded with a swear word. Then, he told me that everyone does it for the money in front of a bunch of people, which intimidated me. I worked hard to get to know him better and understand why he would say that. I found out his background was in a completely different industry, and his harsh manner of talking was common in that industry. Once I found out that what he said wasn't a personal attack on me, I tried to build a relationship with him and get to know him even better."

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      Anonymous Answer

      "Upon graduation from pharmacy school and as a graduate intern, my employer at the time, had implemented a new two week training program, where there was a check list of tasks assigned for each day that each graduate intern needed to learn before running a pharmacy on his or her own. Each graduate intern was assigned to a pharmacy manager to be trained and after learning and mastering each task, the pharmacy manager should check off the task on the list before moving forward to the next step, to ensure every part was being learned. And at the very end of the two weeks, the training pharmacy manager and the new trainee pharmacist had to sign to confirm that all parts were completed. I was assigned to be trained by a pharmacy manager (let's call her Jessica). Upon starting, I found Jessica to be very intimidating and she didn’t make me feel welcomed to her team as much as I was hoping. Also, there was no conversation between me and Jessica in regards to the check list that needed to be followed and completed by the end of these two weeks. I spent the first couple days helping around the pharmacy without learning anything new. When I brought up the checklist to Jessica, she seemed disengaged about following it and she was expecting me to just try to learn things as they came up during the day, as she was too busy to go through the checklist and ensure that I learn everything listed. At this point, I knew that it would be up to me to lead my training and ensure success, and I wanted to remain dedicated, despite her lack of enthusiasm about the process. When I went home, I went through the training manuals independently and realized that there is a lot for me to learn, and it is impossible for me to do it on my own. I wanted to confront her about how I would be more comfortable if we followed the checklist, as advised. but I was too intimated by her to share my thoughts. Giving the subject a lot of thought, I didn’t want to take the situation personally and I kept in mind that she was human, just like the rest of us, and to ensure I got the training that I needed, I would have to talk to her. The next day I asked if I could speak to her privately when she got a chance and she agreed. I explained how important it is to me to become the best pharmacist that I can be, and I was taking this training very seriously, as having successful first few days as a pharmacist on my own depends on it. I explained that I went through the training manuals independently and realized that there was a lot that I didn't know and would like to learn from an expert like her. She respectfully listened to me and assured me that she will do her best to address all tasks on the checklist that I needed to learn. Moreover, she explained that this process is very new to her, and she really didn’t see the point in it, that was why she was not as enthusiastic about it. The next day at the beginning of the shift, she asked me to bring the checklist to go over some tasks, before it got busy in the pharmacy. The following days, we continued to do the same thing and we were successful at completing all the tasks on the checklist, and I got to learn things from her beyond the checklist that I appreciate to this day as a pharmacist."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Good! Your answer spotlights your ability to take the lead in your learning and your communication. Good use of the STAR framework again.

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      Anonymous Answer

      "I once had a doctor tell me my products were terrible. It was a one-way conversation where he was yelling. It was the very first time we'd met, and I was honestly intimidated. When he was finished, I asked him if it would be okay for me to step out and then come back in to start the conversation all over again, but that this time, he was not to be so scary. He looked at me and just started laughing. He became one of my top customers after that."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Nice! Sometimes being forward with people who are aggressive and telling them flat-out how they made you feel is a very effective approach. This is a good story to tell in an interview because you were true to yourself without compromising the account.

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
      Anonymous Answer

      "I am a matter-of-fact person who is laser-focused on their own performance, so I am not an easy person to intimidate. However, if this is indeed how I feel about a person, I would first make sense of the reasons behind this feeling, as engaging someone while feeling this way would either prevent certain aspects of my personality from flourishing, or it would alienate the other person since they would recognize the apprehension with which I approached them. Therefore, I would first find a way to break this feeling down and take control of it. Once I do that, I would feel more empathy towards the person and begin to represent them in my mind as a more wholesome human being with positive and negative traits, as well as successes and failures. This would allow the other person to feel comfortable around me and would enable us to bond in a sincere and meaningful manner."

      Rachelle's Answer

      This answer is very insightful and highlights that you have a strong understanding of self and others. Terrific response!

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
      Anonymous Answer

      "I would first be polite and well mannered when we met, then slowly find some common ground to have some short discussions on work-related processes we both have an interest in. I would also find out what interests they have outside of work to understand the individual and build the relationship."

      Rachelle's Answer

      This is a great approach. Good answer!

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      Anonymous Answer

      "I had a client who was nasty and aggressive on the phone but it was a good customer so I had to grin and bear it. I found that if I practiced what I wanted to say when I had to call them I was more relaxed and didn't let them get to me. I got used to their style and after awhile I didn't take it personally. I just acted as professionally as possible."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Your plan of action is excellent. Nice answer!

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
      Anonymous Answer

      "I had a supervisor a couple of years ago who was very intimidating. I enjoy strong personalities; however, he didn't smile very often and was a bit flat with his emotions, which is sometimes hard to navigate. I don't think he meant to be, so when speaking with him, I made the overall situation a bit lighter by showing enthusiasm and a sense of humor."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Great approach!

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      Anonymous Answer

      "In my current role, my bosses supervisor is a strong personality and is very outspoken in meetings and with her expectations. I have made a point to arrive at meetings or calls with her early and to be sure to speak up when she is asking for opinions or input, even if I'm unsure of what she is looking for specifically. I want her to see that I am part of her team and that I'm reliable and consistent."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Very nice response! You do a great job personalizing this answer while highlighting your communication skills. I like that you included the purpose behind your approach. Well done!

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      Anonymous Answer

      "I had a supervisor who had a strong personality and was very intimidating to approach at times. I had to remind myself that I am there to do my job and she was human just like the rest of us so don't take it personally."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Good, professional approach! In the end, were you able to develop any sort of connection with this supervisor?

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      Anonymous Answer

      "I had a client who was aggressive on the phone, but he was a good customer so I had to grin and bear it. I found that if I practiced what I wanted to say when I had to call him, I was more relaxed and didn't let him get to me. I got used to his style and after a while, I didn't take it personally. I just acted as professionally as possible."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Good start! Be sure to summarize in the beginning or end, how exactly you would describe your approach to communicating in challenging environments.

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