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Tell me about a time when you influenced someone else.

 

Disciplines > Job-finding > Interview questions > Tell me about a time when you influenced someone else.

The question | What they are looking for | How to answer | See also

 

The question

Tell me about a time when you influenced someone else.

How do you go about persuading other people?

Can you influence others?

What do you do to sell your ideas?

What they are looking for

In organizations, we get others to think and do things in two ways, sometimes known as 'telling and selling'. In telling, we use the authority of our position. Most of the time, however, it is better if we change minds without authority: this is what influencing is and what the interviewer is trying to understand.

They are thus looking both for how effective you are at influencing and also the methods you use.

How to answer

Give them an example of influencing somebody outside your span of immediate control. Showing that you can influence people more senior than you is particularly effective.

Last month I need the Finance Director to approve a project. His diary was full, so I sent a one-line email with the potential savings underlined. That got his attention. When he came to see me, I showed how I would make the savings and he approved it on the spot.

Show how you change minds subtly rather than using a sledge-hammer to coerce people into action. Also make sure you are the person changing minds, not someone who is resisting having their mind changed.

Bad example: In a meeting recently another person wanted to close the project early. I just told her there was no chance. She argued about it but I held my ground. In the end, she just gave in.

See also

Techniques for Changing Minds

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