Tell me about a time you successfully negotiated something
- 1 Tell me about a time you successfully negotiated something
- 2 Other interview questions that are similar
- 3 What the interviewer is looking for by asking this question
- 4 How best to structure your answer to this question
- 5 What you should NOT do when answering questions
- 6 Tell me about a time you successfully negotiated something – Example answers
- 7 Other Interview Question and Answers
Other interview questions that are similar
- Describe an instance where your negotiation skills led to a positive outcome.
- Can you share an experience where you had to negotiate under challenging circumstances?
- What’s an example of a time when your negotiation abilities significantly benefited a project or team?
- Recall a situation where you used negotiation to resolve a conflict or disagreement.
- Can you describe a negotiation you led that involved multiple parties or stakeholders?
- Share an experience where your negotiation tactics achieved a result beyond expectations.
- Describe a scenario where your negotiation skills played a key role in securing a deal or agreement.
What the interviewer is looking for by asking this question
There are probably an infinite number of questions that the interviewer could ask you on the day. Some questions are incredibly common appearing in almost every interview you will have, while other questions you might hear once and never again regardless of how many jobs you apply for.
Fundamentally though all interview questions are really trying to find out one of 3 things:
1 – Can you do the job? (Do you have the skills/experience needed?)
2 – Will you do the job? (Do you have the drive/motivation to get the job done?)
3 – Will you fit in? (Does your personality match the workplace culture? Are you likeable?)
That’s it. Those are the 3 things that the interviewer is trying to ascertain. Every question that is asked of you will fundamentally be trying to resolve one (or more) of these 3 things.
When you’re asked in an interview, “Tell me about a time you successfully negotiated something,” the interviewer is trying to figure out a few key things about you. First, they want to know if you have the skills for the job. Negotiating is all about talking things through and finding middle ground, so a story about how you’ve done this shows you’ve got the skills to handle tough situations.
Second, they’re checking if you’re the type who gets things done. By telling them about a time you negotiated something successfully, you’re showing that you don’t just give up when things get tricky. You stick with it and find a solution.
Lastly, they’re trying to get a sense of what you’re like as a person. How you describe your negotiation tells them if you play well with others. Were you fair and cool-headed, or pushy and rude? How you handled the negotiation gives them a hint about whether you’ll fit in with their team.
So, in short, this question is a sneaky way for them to see if you’ve got the right skills, the drive to get things done, and if you’ll get along with everyone else. Keep your answer real and to the point, and you’ll cover all these bases.
How best to structure your answer to this question
Unless the question you are asked is a straight ‘up or down / yes or no’ style question then you are going to need to learn to describe, expand and elaborate on your answers. The best way of doing this is to follow the B-STAR technique for answering interview questions.
Answers using this method follow the below structure:
B – Belief – What are your thoughts and feelings with regard to the subject matter? In the context of negotiating, your beliefs can show the interviewer how you approach negotiations, whether you see them as win-win opportunities or competitive battles.
S – Situation – What was going on? Briefly explain the scenario that was taking place. – Try not to spend too much time describing the situation. The bulk of your answer needs to be about you and what you did so keep the situation simple to understand and even simpler to describe. Relating this to negotiation, a concise description of the situation helps the interviewer quickly grasp the context and focus more on your role and actions.
T – Task – What was your role in the action? Most of the time it is best that you are taking an active rather than passive role in the encounter. In a negotiation scenario, clearly defining your role demonstrates to the interviewer your capacity to take charge and influence outcomes.
A – Activity (or action) – What did you do? Detail the steps you took and why you took them. – This should take up the bulk of your time answering the question. When discussing negotiation, your actions and strategies reveal your problem-solving skills and how you handle pressure, both critical in assessing your fit for the job.
R – Result – How did everything end up? Try to use figures if possible (e.g. we cut costs by $3m, customer satisfaction scores increased 25%, failures reduced to zero, ice cream parties increased ten-fold etc.). In terms of negotiation, quantifiable results can powerfully illustrate your effectiveness and the positive impact you can bring to the role.
Remember though that the B-STAR technique is descriptive not prescriptive. You do not need to follow this flow strictly, go with what is best for your answers and that will allow you to put your point across and show your experience the best.
What you should NOT do when answering questions
Do not avoid the question.
Do not downplay the importance of the negotiation.
Do not over-exaggerate your role or the outcome.
Do not claim you have never negotiated.
Do not focus solely on others’ actions, ignoring your own contributions.
Do not leave out the result or impact of the negotiation.
Do not provide a vague or overly brief response that lacks detail.
Tell me about a time you successfully negotiated something – Example answers
Example Answer 1 (Detailed)
In my experience, a good negotiation is all about understanding and communication. For instance, last year, I faced a challenging situation at work. Our company needed to renew a contract with a major supplier, but their proposed terms were way over our budget. This put a crucial project at risk of being delayed.
As the lead on this project, it was up to me to renegotiate these terms. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but it was essential to find a middle ground that worked for both of us. I started by organizing a meeting with the supplier. During the meeting, I was upfront about our budget limits and how critical this project was to our company. But it wasn’t just about laying out our problems; I also made sure to listen to their side of the story. It turned out they were looking for longer-term stability in their contracts.
So, I came up with a new proposal: what if we extended the contract length but with a payment plan that spread out the costs? This way, we could stick to our budget, and they would get the long-term commitment they were looking for. It took a few rounds of discussion, but we finally reached an agreement that cut our initial costs by 15%. Not only did this save our project from getting delayed, but it also helped build a stronger, more trusting relationship with the supplier.
This whole experience was a great reminder of how important it is to go into negotiations ready to talk things out and find solutions that work for everyone. It’s not just about getting what you want; it’s about creating agreements that everyone can be happy with.
Example Answer 2 (Shorter)
More Sample Answers…
The examples provided above can serve as a foundation for creating your unique answers. For additional inspiration, our new guide includes five sample responses to this question and over 250 answers to all of the most common interview queries.
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