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Paul Tran
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Paul Tran
Career Counseling Manager | Resume Writer | Partnerships @ Enhancv Crafting your message: from Students to Executives
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Ace the Interview
Describe Your Greatest Challenge - Interview Question (+Answers)

You’ve made it to the interview phase of a job and are preparing for behavioral questions. A very common behavioral question you might encounter will ask you about a challenge or conflict that you’ve encountered. Don’t be caught off guard! This article will provide some tips on answering this question like a pro! Looking for other tricky Interview Questions and our take on their answers? Check out these:Interview Question: Why Do You Want This Job (+ Answers)Why Are You Leaving Your Current Job - Interview Question (+ Answers)What Is Your Leadership Style - Interview Question (+ Answers)How To Answer: "What's Your Biggest Weakness" In An InterviewWhat Other Companies Are You Interviewing With? - Interview Questions and AnswersHow To Answer 'What Was Your Greatest Accomplishment?' In an InterviewHow To Ace 'Tell Me About A Time You Failed' Job Interview QuestionHow To Reply To "What Sets You Apart From Other Candidates"?What Are You Passionate About: Best Interview AnswersWhy is the “Describe Your Greatest Challenge” question important?Work, just like life, never goes according to plan.Ideally, that client project you are leading goes smoothly, everyone is happy and there are no problems. In reality, however, that is not always the case and recruiters want to know how you think, adapt, respond and learn from anticipated as well as unexpected challenges. Is the measure of the best candidate who is best when things go well, or who is best when responding to difficult challenges? The short answer is, they evaluate both scenarios in an interview. What do Hiring Managers look for in your answer?One of the key things hiring managers look for in this answer is honesty. Talking about challenges or conflicts can be a touchy or tricky subject, and recruiters scrutinize this question even more so. Another key thing they look for is whether you’ve learned anything from the experience or how you approach a similar situation differently now. Even though this is not explicitly asked all the time, it is extremely important that you include what you learned and what you do differently now. Finally, think about why they are asking this question to understand what they are looking for. As mentioned earlier, they want to see how you respond when things aren’t going according to plan. In this light, it is more important to communicate what you were thinking and why, while focusing a little less on the details of what actually happened. Some detail is necessary for context, but don’t go overboard painting the story with granular details and risk losing sight of why they are asking the question. One thing to consider is the context in which things might not go accordingly. Joining an early stage startup, for example, has a lot of uncertainty and risk as part of the work environment. Recruiters might therefore put more weight on this question and even follow up with more questions as a result. How do you answer the question “What is your greatest challenge?”There are many ways to answer this question, but what I recommend for my clients that book interview preparation is to use the STAR method for behavioral questions that require an example to answer. STAR stands for situation, task, action and results. It is an easy acronym to remember that will hit all the key points you need to touch on to answer the question effectively. SituationSet up the situation of the example you are using for your answer. Try not to generalize this part of the answer and add some specific details. Make sure you don’t spend too much time on this step, but also don’t overlook it. Example: When I was a Senior Consultant at Deloitte in 2018, I was tapped to lead a Digital Transformation project for a top 5 Banking Client. One of the problems, though, was that the project would begin during a reorg going on in the company. TaskWhat goals were you working towards? What were you asked to do, or what were your deliverables? Example: The client had some clear goals and priorities, including an aggressive 12-month timeframe on a strict budget of $10M. ActionDescribe the actions you took to address the situation with an appropriate amount of detail and keep the focus on YOU. What specific steps did you take and what was your particular contribution? Be careful that you don’t describe what the team or group did when talking about a project, but what you actually did. Use the word “I,” not “we” when describing actions.Example: I made sure I had the right team around me for the project and hired, trained and developed 5 people to execute on the plan. We worked with 15 stakeholders to develop a 3 phase timeline that addressed the challenges of the reorganization by getting buy-in from senior management to sign off on key decisions. ResultsDescribe the outcome of your actions, and don’t be shy about taking credit for your behavior. If possible, try to quantify results. Example:We were able to complete the project 1 week ahead of schedule and $500k under budget. The client was extremely satisfied with the result and signed a new contract to extend the project.  Additional tips to help you prepare for the “Describe your greatest challenge” questionOne of the most important things to remember when preparing for this question is picking the right example to use. Pick an example which you can provide details if there are follow-up questions. Write out your answer beforehand. This allows you to record key details you might have forgotten if you just answered from memory.Practice your answer. You can practice it with a friend to get it just right. Alternatively, you can record your response and edit it based on the recording.It is ok to ask for a moment to think or decide. When caught off guard by complicated or “gotcha” questions, saying “that's an interesting question, let me think about it” buys you time to organize your thoughts and respond with a more effective answer.   Takeaways: Describe your greatest challengeThe STAR method remains a quick and  effective way to answer behavioral questions. Make sure to keep each part of the method the right length of communication.You can add what you learned and what you currently do to prevent this challenge from occurring again. Make sure the length of your answer is not too long, but also not too short.And, you can always book a free intro call with me and discuss your interview challenges together.

Paul Tran
Sep 8, 2022 5 min read
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Ace the Interview
How to Write a Good LinkedIn About Section for Job Seekers

The About section of your LinkedIn profile is one of the most important sections that influences a recruiter’s decision to send you a message or to connect. Most people, however, write an ineffective About section that often times does not make them stand out of the crowd. Follow these tips and tricks to write an eye-catching About section that will enhance your LinkedIn profile!LinkedIn About Section GoalsShare little obvious info about yourselfThe About section of your LinkedIn profile is your opportunity to share information about yourself that may not be obvious in other parts of your profile. It is your chance to provide a first impression. I always tell my Career Counseling clients that you may be a bit more personal in your LinkedIn profile than your resume. Some examples could be to talk about what motivates you, what you like about aspects of your job/field, or what types of challenges you enjoy. When writing, you can use 1st person instead of 3rd person, and you may be more informal than formal. Taking a more personal tone is completely optional, and it is ok to keep it more formal and sticking to 3rd person if you prefer. Just make sure to keep it consistent.Make the visitor read more about youAnother goal to consider when writing your LinkedIn About section is the “see more” button in the bottom right corner. This should be the call to action for what you write. If your goal is to get the user to click this button and read more, it means that the first few lines are the most critical parts of the About section. In other words, the first few lines need to be hooks that make the viewer want to read more. There is a 2000-character limit for the entire About section and LinkedIn defaults to only showing the first 3 lines, or about 300 characters before the “see more” button. Make those 300 characters count.Optimize your profile for search appearanceAnother key goal to keep in mind is that the LinkedIn search algorithm scans words from your About section when determining search results. So if you want your profile to show up when a user performs a search on LinkedIn, make sure to include the keywords you want to be associated with and put them in your LinkedIn summary. You can see a personalized breakdown of how you show up in searches by going to your own LinkedIn page, going to your dashboard and then clicking on “Search Appearances”. This will show you what key search words your profile shows up in the search results.Writing a good hookThere is no one “right” way to write a good hook, but there is a spectrum we can use to help guide us in writing one that matches the tone we are comfortable with. On one end of the spectrum, you can keep it strictly business and professional. On the other end of the spectrum, you can be more personal. Not too personal where you reveal too much detail, but think in terms of talking about what motivates you or personal anecdotes that are relevant and interesting. Think of where along this spectrum you feel comfortable sharing information with the goal of getting someone to click “see more”. With this spectrum as a framework, let’s look at some possible examples of hooks to help get you writing.Formal and strictly business – the Quote hookIf you want to stick to a formal tone, a good method is the quote route. Don’t just pick any quote, though. My recommendation is to find a quote that isn’t too long AND it is a quote about a skill or something that motivates you in doing the work you do. The quote is your hook. Then, you bridge the hook by talking about the skills you possess. You want to highlight your key skills for success in the profession you’ve chosen.Example LinkedIn About hook: Robert G. Thompson once stated that “customer-centricity should be about delivering value for customers that will eventually create value for the company”. This focus on the customer as a conduit to creating overall value has informed my work throughout my career in B2B SaaS sales and account management.Slightly personal and more empathetic - the Pain Point hookConnecting with your audience/viewer with a common or shared experience is an effective way to catch their attention and draw them into your profile. One way to do this is to hook them with a pain point that they can relate to. If you are in any customer facing role, the first thing they teach is to know your customer’s pain point. Why don’t we use the same approach when writing an About section targeting profile viewers (recruiters in this case)?Example LinkedIn Summary hook: I was in Miami, FL when I got the call from my bank. Sir, I regret to inform you that there was a security breach and your account had been compromised with fraudulent charges made. I had gotten hacked. I was angry and frustrated and vowed I would never let that happen again. Little did I know at the time, but that was the moment when I started on my path in a career in Cybersecurity. Flash forward 5 years, and I’m now a Cybersecurity Analyst fighting the bad guys to protect people from this happening to them.More personal – the Motivation hookWhat gets you up each day to go to work? Why do you enjoy what you do? Why do you like the challenges that your profession or job presents you? These are all questions that aren’t typically answered just by looking at your experience section on LinkedIn or even your resume. The About section can be an opportunity to show this side to your viewer and could be a powerful way to show who you are, what your personal brand is and a bit more of your personality as well.Example LinkedIn About Section: I remember the first time I heard about Cryptocurrency. I was taking an upper division Econometrics course at Stanford, and my professor went off on a tangent about one of his interests: a new decentralized digital currency called Bitcoin.I was fascinated by the potential of Bitcoin, what it represented and the vision of how it could change the global financial system. I’ve always felt that innovation coupled with “outside-the box” thinking are the keys to solving complex challenges. I would never have imagined, however, that 10 years later I would build a career around cryptocurrency and would be working at Coinbase.I’ve written a hook, now what?After writing a hook, the next thing to do is to bridge your hook with 2-3 skills you want to highlight for your audience. Write a small paragraph for each of these skills, with examples from your career.Example: I would never have imagined, however, that 10 years later I would build a career around cryptocurrency and would be working at Coinbase. And here are the 3 key competencies that have made me successful.Leadership: My management style is to adopt servant leadership. I’ve led teams as large as 10 across multiple departments, including operations, marketing and customer success...Wrapping up the About section with a call to actionAfter writing your hook, a bridge and 3 paragraphs about key skills you want to highlight, wrap up your Summary section with a final paragraph about what challenges you enjoy undertaking and a call to action. Your call to action could be to have them read an article you wrote, click on a link to an interview you gave, or simply ask them to connect.Final Tips & TakeawaysDo not write long paragraphs for the 3 skills you highlightDon’t hold back on your achievements, especially when highlighting your skillsIf you are pivoting careers, this is an opportunity to control your narrative and explain why you are switching***Now go on and make your LinkedIn summary rock! And, you can always get in touch with me and I can help you revamp your LinkedIn profile.

Paul Tran
Sep 8, 2022 7 min read