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How to reply when an interviewer asks how you influence others

CareerBuilder | July 15, 2022

How do you influence others interview question

In a job interview, you may be asked how you influence others. Here's your guide to answering this interview question and displaying your influencing skills.

Getting selected for a job interview can be an exciting experience because it means that your application and qualifications were impressive enough for a hiring manager to grant you some of their time. However, it can also be nerve-wracking if you're unsure how to answer an interviewer's questions. One common question is, "How do you influence others?" Let's explore why interviewers ask this question and how you'll want to answer it.

Why do interviewers ask how you influence others?

"How do you influence others?" "Give me an example of a time you've persuaded someone." "Do you consider yourself a leader or a follower?" These are common interview questions that a hiring manager will ask for the following purposes:

  • Evaluating your persuasion skills
  • Confirming that you use your persuasion skills to encourage others to do what's right
  • Determining if other people respect you
  • Analyzing how you communicate

An interviewer is looking for someone who can persuade others to do what's right for the company without being pushy, manipulative, or disrespectful.

How to answer when you're asked how you influence others

Fortunately, the question "How do you influence others?" is one you can prepare for. Here are steps you can take to form a compelling answer:

Research the company culture

Learn as much as you can about the company's culture, mission, and values. Try to tailor your answer to what matters most to the company. For example, if the company encourages departments to collaborate, think back to when you used your skills to influence an interdepartmental project. If you're interviewing with a company that has a substantial remote workforce, consider mentioning a time you were able to persuade someone by email, over the phone, or in a video meeting.

Select a specific incident

Even if you don't have an experience that's an exact fit with the company's mission statement, you should still choose a specific incident to discuss during your interview that demonstrates your persuasion skills. Ensure the story you share has a clear beginning, middle, and end and that the results are objective. Suggested situations include:

  • Supervising a team
  • Helping coworkers resolve a disagreement
  • Helping a coworker achieve a goal
  • Getting a project approved
  • Negotiating with a previous employer for a raise or change in working conditions

The example you choose should make it clear to your potential employer that you have the following skills:

  • Identifying the needs of others
  • Keeping your cool while remaining assertive
  • Constructing a logical argument for your position
  • Communicating effectively in various situations and with different types of people
  • Actively listening

Employ the STAR method

If you can think of a specific example that showcases your influencing skills but can't think of a way to explain it coherently, you can employ the STAR method. The components of the STAR method are:

  • Situation. Describe the situation that led to you using your powers of persuasion.
  • Task. Explain what your responsibility was concerning the situation. Perhaps you were tasked with completing a project or closing a sale.
  • Action. Describe in detail the steps you took to resolve the situation or achieve your goal. This is the most significant component of the STAR method because it's your chance to demonstrate your skills and work ethic.
  • Result. Let the interviewer know the outcome of your actions. You'll make an even bigger impression if you can share tangible or data-driven changes.

Maintain a positive attitude

When relating your example to your potential employer, staying positive is necessary. Instead of insulting people who opposed your ideas, show the interviewer that you respect your coworkers, even during a disagreement, and how you're able to still work as a team. Keep focusing on your skills and how you used them to help your team members and previous employer. Staying relaxed and confident will indicate your honesty when relating the story and prove that you can keep your cool.

Example answers to interview questions about influencing skills

Here are example answers to an interviewer's question about a situation where you've influenced someone:

Example 1

"A few years ago, I worked as a project manager (PM) for a lead generation company. The position is paid by the hour instead of a set salary. Keeping track of how PMs used their time became an issue with a primarily remote workforce. PMs were required to file incredibly detailed timesheets that were more like essays. The timesheet process took away time that should have been spent assisting clients and team members.

After finding out from my fellow PMs that they were having the same issue, I went to my direct supervisor and explained how the timesheet process was interfering with our workflow. I convinced her and our human resources manager to start letting the project managers use a streamlined timesheet form that took less time to fill out."

Example 2

"I try to positively influence everyone I work with and every client I interact with. I find that a friendly greeting and a smile go a long way in helping someone have a better day. Clients are more willing to listen when you approach them with a positive attitude, which helps when you're trying to close a sale. Being there for my team members when they're faced with a difficult task or just need someone to listen to creates a pleasant work environment. When I'm enthusiastic about my work, it influences my coworkers to put forth more effort, and everyone actually wants to show up for the company."

How persuasion skills can make you an effective employee

While your potential employer hopes to benefit from your persuasion skills, you can benefit from them too. In addition to using your influencing skills to land the job, here's how persuasion skills can boost your career:

Morale improvement

Suppose you work in a sales role. Strong persuasion skills will come in handy when selling a product or service to a client. Closing the sale benefits your company, but it can also boost your confidence and morale. When you feel better about yourself, it can go a long way in giving you career satisfaction. You can also use your influencing skills to motivate and encourage your team members, creating a more pleasant work environment.

Organizational change

Companies are run by humans, who are hardwired to resist change. That's why organizations are reluctant to change their policies, even if those policies hinder employees from doing the best job possible. However, with the right approach, you can influence upper management to make changes that will benefit the company and positively impact the work culture.

Career advancement

Whether you use your persuasive skills to sell products, influence your team members, or push for changes in the company, your skills won't go unnoticed by your supervisors. You're sure to be rewarded with salary increases and promotions, especially when you use your skills to make your case during performance reviews.

More tips for acing your job interview:

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