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How to Respond to the Influence Question, Part 2

interview tips Dec 28, 2022

Last week, we covered a very common question asked in behavioral interviews:

Tell me about a time you were asked to influence someone?

This question is much more common than you might think, so it is important to be prepared. Be sure to read last week’s article [click here for Part 1] first. It talks about critical items such as company culture, data, interpersonal skills and positivity. It also stresses the importance of demonstrating why it was meaningful to influence this other person in your past role.

Today, we want to dive deeper into this topic and cover the other important items you’ll need to consider when preparing for this behavioral interview answer.

Item #6—Persuasion

How did you utilize the data and your soft skills to persuade and influence this person? Which specific tactics did you use? How did you persuade with assertiveness? How did you identify commonalities with that person’s personality type in order to persuade them? How did you use critical thinking, logical reasoning and your expertise to persuade?

Lastly, how did you negotiate? Did you have a little bit of give and take with the other person? Did you present alternative solutions, and did you come in with a plan for those alternatives?

This is a very heavy section, but so important. Persuasion is obviously a critical aspect of influencing someone, so these are all relevant items to consider when answering this behavioral question. 

Item #7—Action Plan

The next step is talking through how you organized, prioritized, tested and executed on this influence. Oftentimes, these kinds of behavioral questions are front-loaded. We tend to spend a little too much time focused on how we influenced initially. However, it is a mistake to skip over the testing and execution components.

I really want you to dive into these items. How did you get into it? How did you create a plan? How did you test and adjust the plan? How did you execute the plan? This is going to continue to demonstrate how you influenced throughout this entire example, not just at the beginning.

Item #8—Other Critical Steps

Now we want to cover several other critical steps, such as launching, documenting, presenting, etc. Many people skip over this last section, but these actions will round out your answer.. Maybe you’ll want to talk about how the two of you launched an awesome product. Or perhaps you mention an important presentation that the two of you gave to leadership and really impressed them.

In addition, you want to talk about how your influence ultimately helped document and socialize this information. This is an action I see overlooked too often. 

Item #9—Results

Let’s talk about the results, with a specific focus on the relationship. What were the results of your ability to influence and persuade this person? Start with that and then follow up with the more tangible results relating to business outcome and project success. You can also build in any important numbers and data at this point. Remember that numbers are the universal business language.

End with repeatability. What was the bigger picture win? What was the broader impact of this influence you had? How did it ultimately benefit the organization?

Item #10—Learnings

Not all behavioral answers need learnings. However, it is a great component to bring into this particular answer. You’ll briefly want to outline what you learned by influencing this person. You’ll also want to talk about what you learned along the way. Maybe you learned how to better go about influencing others. Think about what you could have done better and how this experience helped you improve yourself in some way.

For more insight on this behavioral interview topic, please watch the full video below:

For additional interview training and practice tips, check out my YouTube channel, visit my blog or sign up on the Practice Interviews website.


Jeff H. Sipe

Jeff has interviewed over 1000 people in his career and previously spent five years working at Google headquarters in Silicon Valley. You likely found Jeff through YouTube and you will find the same level of dedication in his one on one practice interview sessions.

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