Tell Me About a Time You Had to Sell or Persuade Someone on an Idea of Yours

The remainder of this chapter contains typical interview questions, both behavioral and traditional, and sample story-based responses to them. The question is in the headline. Note that many of these stories contain emotional content to draw the interviewer in and help him or her identify with the interviewee.

The business team had a very tight deadline for getting FDA approval for a line extension of a newly marketed pharmaceutical product. The team wanted to do something very quickly, focusing only on efficacy and safety and not including any outcomes. I convinced the team to include some outcomes related to convenience, satisfaction, and sleep quality. I had to convince them that this information was critical for us to gain market access, especially related to managed-care formularies. The FDA approved the line extension.

Annually, a year-end tournament capped off lessons at my tennis club. However, students had started losing interest in the tournament. Three years ago, I figured out a way to motivate the kids to play in the tournament by making it much more age-friendly. I suggested to the head coach that we all pitch in to buy prizes for the students and trophies for the winners and have other games and exercises going on while the tournament took place. The result was a 40 percent increase in participants and a significant increase in the crowds of family and friends that came out to watch.

In one of my marketing classes, we had to read case studies of problematic business scenarios, evaluate them, and tell what changes we would make in the way the company was managed. The cases were very confusing, and students had a hard time separating issues. I went to my professor to suggest role-playing the characters in the cases and proceed as if it were real life - to give students a better understanding. At first she snubbed my idea and thought that students would not take it seriously. However, I was very persistent. I told her that since I am a very visual learner and knew that it would help me, I therefore felt the approach could make a difference in the class. She still refused. I then asked her to give me just one case to try my idea. I said that I would take one of the roles, and a volunteer could take another. I said that if the idea failed, I would never mention it again. She gave me my chance, and it worked! My idea grabbed the attention of the class. Instead of reading the boring cases and going around the room sharing our thoughts, I got the class involved and excited about the material that we were learning.

As an account executive, I persuade potential advertisers all the time. But I specifically remember persuading the owner of a tanning salon to advertise in the middle of the winter after he had already declined at the beginning. I used my personal experience as a sorority member to explain to him that winter is the best time to advertise tanning salons because sororities have formals, and members want to look tan in their dresses. He knew sororities were a huge part of his business and agreed to advertise for the rest of the school year as long as I kept him up to date on good times to run specials for sororities.

I was the leader of my macroeconomics group in college. As leader, I had to delegate parts of the assignment to other group members. Not only did I do a written section for each paper, but I also gathered all of the props we needed for our oral presentation, and I typed all of the five papers assigned. I was also taking four other classes at the time. By the fourth paper, I decided to persuade some of the other group members to edit and finalize it. I learned a lot about delegation and leadership when I discovered that they were happy to help out.

Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling that Propels Careers, Quintessential Careers Press, ISBN-10: 1-934689-00-9. Find out the ways you can own the entire book.


The new, improved edition of the book, Tell Me About Yourself, is now available. You can order it on Amazon.

About This Blog

This blog serializes the first edition of the book, Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling that Propels Careers (shown below). It is a blog-within-a-blog, and its parent blog is A Storied Career.


You can read the new, improved edition of Tell Me About Yourself by buying the book.

You can read the first edition of Tell Me About Yourself on this blog, as follows (Follow each chapter sequentially through the dates after the opening entries for each chapter):

You can read the first edition, page by page, here.

May 2012

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