Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way

Persuasion is an important skill for every teacher, but also for each corporate employee. Students and workers often lack motivation, or do not want to change their routines. A good leader has an ability to convince them to see things their way, and to do the things they’d prefer not doing, or to agree to some important changes. Hiring managers are aware of the importance of this ability, and they will often ask you to demonstrate it in the interviews, narrating a situation from the past.

Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers to this interesting question. It isn’t an easy one to answer, especially when you lack previous working experience, and I hope my answers will inspire you to come up with your own, unique interview answer. Remember that your attitude matters much more than the situation you narrate. As long as you demonstrate that you can “fight for your vision“, that you do not give up easily, and that NO is never a final answer to you, hiring managers will be satisfied with your words…


7 sample answers to “Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way.” interview question

  1. I recall a great example from my teaching job. Had one class where many children came from broken families, and from bad social environment overall. This put a dent to their confidence in education and the sense it has in one’s life, since they saw their parents struggling in many ways, having multiple jobs etc. You can all it a “bad role model problem”, you can call it what you want, but the reality was lack of motivation and discipline. I knew I had to do something to change their outlook of life, to see things my way, to understand that they do not have to live the same lives their parents do, if they study well. And hence I told them real-life stories and brought guests to the lessons, especially guests who came from poor neighborhood but made some career against all odds, becoming doctors, scientists, social workers, etc. This helped the children to see the value in what we do at school, and convinced them to try much harder. I am proud of this accomplishment and hope to replicate the same success in my new teaching job.
  2. This is my first job application for a real work, before I worked just at McDonald’s, part time job, hence I cannot come up with example from work. But I remember a situation from my family. My sister dated a really bad guy, someone involved in drugs and a lot of bad stuff. She was in love though, and didn’t see the reality, that the guy was only using her and didn’t really care, and that the relationship was no good for her future. My parents could not talk her out of it, but I came with a plan. I found one of his past girlfriends, someone he also used and then “threw away”, and introduced her to my sister, to tell her story. This worked, it opened her eyes, and she finally saw things my way. She left the guy and now she has a normal boyfriend, a serious person.
  3. I had to do this all the time in my last job in sales. Was selling an innovative product, a new mattress with Aloe Vera and some “cosmic technologies” inside, twice as expensive as most high-level mattresses. As you can imagine, it isn’t a product most people need, or desire. I had to be at my very best to convince them, and I mostly used my own enthusiasm for the product, since I got it for testing and it really made a big difference for my back pain and quality of sleep. I just went on and on rumbling about how life changing it will be for them, and eventually managed to generate decent sales each month. It taught me a lesson that NO is never a final answer, and you can persuade the customer to see things your way, you just have to try hard enough.
  4. I used it successfully just yesterday with my boyfriend. He was tired from work and everything, but I really needed a nice evening out to forget a bit about my job search and interviews, and overcome my interview nerves. As always he just wanted to stay home and watch TV… But I used some persuasion, explaining how a nice evening it could be, and helping to create some images in his head with proper remarks, visualizations of different scenarios that he liked–though they were just scenarios, and not something I planned to, when it came to the end of the evening. It worked like a charm, he suddenly changed his mind, put on some clothes, we went to see movies, eat something, and it really helped me to take my mind of the interviews and relax a bit.
  5. To be honest, I never try to persuade people. Let me explain. In my opinion, persuasion isn’t effective, because as soon as people spot it, they start to act defensively and more often than not the battle is lost. That’s why instead of persuading anyone, my tactic is raising right questions, at the right time. When you manage to do that and people start to question their own beliefs, or at least the way they intended to do something, they may eventually decide to do things your way. But they feel much better about such an outcome, because they feel as if they made the decision themselves, instead of being defeated in some confrontation of opinions with you. Sure, it takes more time to do this and perhaps it isn’t the most fitting way to convince people immediately, but the technique yielded me some great results and I hope to stick to it in my new job.

  1. This is my first application for a teaching job, hence I haven’t have yet a chance to test my persuasion skills in the classroom. I am not naive though, and know it won’t be always easy to motivate the students to study, to do their homework etc. But you can be sure I won’t give up easily, and had some ideas on how to convince them to give their studies their best effort. One of them is helping them to see the connection of their studies with their future, the income, the well-being, the level of comfort (or lack of it) they will enjoy. Other way is more indirect, applying innovative teaching methods such as learning by playing, and using technology in the classroom, something children generally enjoy more and should be more motivated. And I also hope to learn from my new colleagues (with more experience) how to use persuasion successfully in the classes.
  2. I was able to use persuasion in my last managerial job in XYZ Corporation. Imagine a small team, lack of resources, tight deadline, and a project you really want to complete. What you do? How do you motivate the employees to stay overtime, come Saturdays two times, and basically sacrifice a lot for their job? Well, I somehow managed to do it, and perhaps it was a sheer power of personality, or my ability to “sell them” some future promises. How life-changing ti would be, how participating on such a project will look on their resume, and that we can revolutionize the entire industry–and it will be them who made it happen. Perhaps it wasn’t even true but as they say enthusiasm is infectious, and I managed to convince them and we all worked 60+ hours few weeks in a row. It was crazy, and regardless of the effort the project was eventually a failure, and I lost the job. Nevertheless, I learned the power of persuasion, and I am sure I can benefit from the lessons in my new job… perhaps with you…

Ready to answer this one, after getting some inspiration from my 7 sample answers? I hope so! Do not forget to check also sample answers to other tricky interview questions you may face interview for a teaching job or for another role:

Matthew Chulaw
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