The interviewer would like to know if you are giving of your time in the sense of volunteering. Many hiring managers will choose one candidate over another because of their volunteer experience. They feel that it shows strong character and selflessness which are all qualities that make a great employee. Talk to the interviewer about your willingness to give back to your community in some form of volunteerism. If you do not have formal volunteer experience, you can draw on things you do in your spare time to assist friends, family, or even your current employer. If you do have volunteer experience: "For the past eight months, I have volunteered every Wednesday evening at our local animal shelter. I will help with grooming the animals, feeding them, and walking them. It's been an enjoyable experience and rewarding at the same time." If you do not have volunteer experience: "I have not formally volunteered in these most recent years, however; I spend a lot of time helping my sister who is a single mom. I will babysit on weekends, cook dinners for her and drive the kids to appointments when necessary. I feel that it is imperative to take care of the needs of the family."
"For the past eight months, I have volunteered every Wednesday evening at our local animal shelter. I will help with grooming the animals, feeding them, and walking them. It's been an enjoyable experience and rewarding at the same time."
"I recently volunteered to be on our business' social committee. Part of what we do it raise funds for local schools and other needs for the community. I am new to volunteering but plan to dedicate myself more often to giving back to others. Do you have a volunteer program set up at your office, or any suggestions on ways that I can give back?"
"I recently headed up a day of volunteering for myself and my team. Twelve of us spent the day working at the local food bank, preparing and serving lunch for over 100 of our city's homeless population. I am currently putting a plan in place for us to have a standing commitment with the shelter, coming in once per month to help out. It's important to me that our teamwork for the good of others, and not be focused solely on our own needs."
"I help people out when the opportunity presents itself, rather than commit to a formal volunteer role. My strengths are in marketing and content writing so, for that reason, I look for opportunities that will allow me to share these strengths with others. Most recently I helped a single mom who lost her job by re-doing her resume and helping her to fix up her brand. It made all the difference in her level of confidence, and she landed a job shortly after."
"Every Monday I volunteer at the local animal shelter! I love animals so much, which is a big reason why I am applying to work at your pet store. I feel a deep sense of responsibility to help animals."
"For the past two years, I have helped set up a coat drive in our office. Every winter we collect hundreds of coats and other items for warmth and food. Each January, our office gathers with increasing strength to distribute these "warmth kits" to different shelters and soup kitchens throughout the city. We are not only helping those less fortunate but also we can make a personal connection with another human. Humanity is often forgotten, and this is a great way to remember how we are connected."
"Aside from being a teacher, I am also the parent of two young kids. Their preschool is often running community fundraising events. This year I volunteered to be their treasurer. It doesn't take up much of my time, but it does feel great to be an active parent helper."
The interviewer would like to know that you would be ready to make an impact on their organization, immediately after being hired. It's important to come to an interview with a 30-90 day strategic plan on how you would impact the business, should you be the successful candidate. Tell the interviewer what your impact goal is, should you be the successful candidate.
"I know you mentioned that the average tenure in this position, before promotion, is anywhere from 6 months to a year or more. I intend to prove over the first three months that I am a rockstar in the organization and would be of greater benefit to you in an account executive role than I am in a sales development role."
"If hired today, I would start with analyzing all quantifiable data from the last month, quarter, and year to identify any bottlenecks or shortfalls in productivity. I would make corrections from there. Perhaps this will be in the form of creating better processes, implementing new applications for productivity, or simplifying the vendor process. This work will, of course, coincide with your biggest pain-points at the moment."
"You mentioned earlier that staff training and retention had become a pressure point for your organization. I considered that and created a 90-day plan to increase retention while streamlining the training process via an online training manual with self-guided lessons. Would you like to take a deeper look?"
"I created a strategic plan for you to take a look at, using one of your biggest clients as an example. This outline shows how I can make an impact as your Head of Marketing in the next 30, 60, and 90 days. First and foremost, my focus would be on getting to know your highest-spending clients by booking face to face meetings with them. It would be a discovery meeting where I would set out to see where we could serve them better, and increase their marketing spend in areas they were lacking."
"If you hired me today, I would dive right into the training manual, learning all of your products and pricing. I would study your best selling products and work on my sales scripts."
"When we were speaking earlier, about sales targets in this position, you mentioned that most new sales professionals begin to hit their KPI's after 120 days. If hired today, my goal would be to exceed my KPI's after the first 90 days. I plan to make a positive impact very quickly by getting on the phone, getting to know my clients, and discovering their needs immediately. I will upsell from there."
"The first thing I would do is acquaint myself with my students, and their parents. The better understanding I have of my class and the dynamics, the more effective of an educator I can be."
Being able to face a challenging or stressful situation, and still gain some accomplishment, in the end, is very satisfying. Talk to the interviewer about a time when you were able to come out on top despite being faced with an obstacle. Your answer can be big or small. You don't need a grandiose example to make an impact.
"In my career, so far, I feel that the most difficult accomplishment for me to achieve were the three back-to-back promotions in my current company. Because promotions are granted based on results, I had to put in a lot of overtime hours, and hustle, to get there."
"The most challenging accomplishment I achieved was the fluid communication created in my current office. I did this through creating an online memo board and incorporating new methods of communication such as iCalendar and setting everyone up on Hangout. When I first started, communication was so poor that it greatly affected the company's profits. By creating this smooth communication, we were able to increase sales by 155% in the first year."
"My most challenging accomplishment was to boost employee morale, lower turnover and increase productivity in the first 90 days of starting my current role. The previous management had been quite tumultuous and, after the year they had, it was not easy to take over, gain their trust, and put a smile back on their faces. Now, we run a well-oiled machine, and I feel it couldn't have gone better."
"The most challenging accomplishment for me to achieve, as a marketer, has been staying on top of shifts in trends related to social media marketing and paid advertising. For instance, the Facebook algorithms are constantly changing, so it's challenging to become a subject matter expert in that arena. For this reason, I took three workshops this year to ensure my knowledge was current and helpful to my clients."
"In my previous role, as a sales associate for a local chocolatier, I was tasked to memorize the ingredients in every one of our products. There were over 100 varieties! I took my workbook home, hunkered down for the entire weekend, and came to my first day on the job with everything memorized to a tee! My new manager was very impressed."
"So far, I would say the most challenging accomplishment has been to lead the scoreboard continually. I made it my goal to be on top of the scoreboard at least four of the five days in the work week so that I would have the highest KPI scorecard to read each Monday morning sales huddle. By doing so, I received a promotion to the next position in record time. I may have received the promotion the fastest, but it was probably not the easiest on the road there!"
"I believe the most challenging career achievement has been moving from the substitute list to a full time, permanent teaching opportunity. Our school district is oversaturated and competitive. I believe my success in landing a full-time role was because of the diversity I offer having expertise in science and language arts."
The interviewer would like to know what motivates you to be an over-achiever in the workplace. We all want recognition in some way for our accomplishments in the workplace. Perhaps you enjoy surprise gifts, financial perks, public attention, kind words, added responsibilities, or title promotions. Share with the interviewer how you would like recognition for your hard work.
"I am very much an over-achiever and find that the best way for me to be recognized for a job well done is to hear words of kindness and recognition. I am easily encouraged, and the best reward for me is to know that my hard work matters."
"I am very simple. I do not require any formal recognition, but kind words from my coworkers and superiors will keep me motivated and working hard."
"The success of my team is a direct reflection of my success as a manager. For that reason, I prefer that my team receive accolades for a job well done. For instance, our group exceeded our targets for the past business quarter. Thus we were collectively rewarded. This method of recognition is my preference."
"I feel best when I know how my hard work has positively impacted another person. In my current role, our marketing director will often share our customer satisfaction surveys in our office meetings. If my name is mention, I cannot help but grin from ear to ear."
"Having worked in a retail environment, I am accustomed to being acknowledged publicly such as a company-wide email stating that I was top in sales. I have also received store credits and gift certificates for my hard work. Those types of credits are always fun to receive."
"I am a highly competitive person who is compensation driven. I like to recognition for my accomplishments through monetary bonus' or contests where the stakes are high."
"I am not one to enjoy the limelight. If you catch me doing a great job, I like a note of recognition or to be pulled aside and acknowledged."
It is imperative to be goal-oriented and determined but even more critical is to support your coworkers in their professional endeavors openly. This support is how teams succeed! What do you do, outside of your own goals, to ensure that everyone on your team is successful? Assure the interviewer that you are always willing to keep the team, or company as a whole, in mind.
"I enjoy seeing my coworkers succeed and will help them whenever possible. One way that I support my coworkers is to help them keep organized by making suggestions on new tools that I have discovered. I had one coworker with a brand new smartphone, and she wasn't sure all the ways it could be utilized to make her day better. I spent my lunch hour helping her set it up. She was golden, after that!"
"I work closely with accounts payable, ensuring our bills are paid on time. However, my coworker in accounts receivable was struggling to obtain payments from customers. I stepped in and helped her make collection calls one day, knowing that my work could wait until tomorrow. I could see she was drowning and discouraged, so it was the team-oriented thing to do."
"When a new hire starts, I have become the de-facto go-to for shadowing. I always make sure to introduce myself to new-hires immediately. I schedule time for them to sit down with me and shadow what I do and how I do it. I want to see everyone succeed and, since there is no real training program in our company, I feel I need to be the change maker in the organization."
"Nearing the end of Q4 last year, all of those who had not reached their content quota were facing potential layoff. I was 123% to quota, and my co-worker was struggling at 98%. I transferred a small client to him which pushed him to 104%. He was a strong team member, and I didn't want to see him lose his job for one difficult year."
"I had a coworker with a customer who tried on nearly everything in the store! She didn't end up buying a thing but left the change room a complete disaster. I helped my colleague fold and put everything away. If she were on her own, it would have taken her off the floor for so long that she would have lost out on a ton of potential commission."
"As a sales manager, my team is only as successful as the lowest producing employee. It is imperative that my entire team is motivated, engaged, and on point with their KPIs. Last month I hired a new employee who was struggling significantly with sales. I sat him down and realized that he didn't understand the product. We spent a few hours together over that next week learning the product. In the end, his sales increased by 64%, and he was significantly more confident. It helped the team morale as well."
"I recently helped a coworker with marking their students' final papers. She had encountered a health issue earlier and, due to that, was running behind on her work. It always feels nice to help someone out and, I know she would return the favor if I ever needed."
The interviewer would like to know about your project and deadline related accomplishments. Show that it is vital for you to meet and exceed work-related deadlines. Assure the interviewer that you can remain focused on a project and accomplish your goals ahead of schedule.
"In my current position I am expected to cold call 100 customers per week. Most of our associates will break this down into 20 per day, five days per week. What has attributed greatly to my success in this role is that I call 50 customers each day for the first two days and then have time to make additional calls throughout the week. This action equals a 25% surplus of cold calls to my portfolio. I am always ahead of target by going over and above that cold calling schedule."
"In my current role, I was given the task of migrating our payroll system to a new provider. I completed the project two weeks ahead of schedule allowing us to start the new service sooner."
"It drives me crazy, not being early. In my first job, at sixteen, I was told the adage, 'If you are not 10 minutes early, you are late', and it has stuck with me. I apply this same logic to how I train my team and their level of reliability. Gaining buy-in from my team is very important to me, and this is where I started with them. Every member of my team is early to client meetings, deliver their work before the deadline, and are eager to show up before ever being asked."
"The majority of my projects are completed ahead of schedule. I believe that my clients deserve the best of me and I will work overtime when I can to deliver faster than expected. For instance, I had a client who was releasing their new brand strategy for January 1. The deadline was right around Christmas but, rather than stressing their team out by delivering on time and right around the holidays, I worked overtime every day for the first two weeks of December, to ensure timely delivery."
"Every month our store is given until the last Monday of the month to submit our inventory counts. This month I decided that my team would be better off having the count complete before the weekend rush hit. We submitted our inventory count by the Thursday afternoon. I plan to make this a habit every month, moving forward."
"I'm required to make 100 calls with 70 minutes talk time, and two appointments set daily. I prefer to set goals at about 125% to target. I never want to get myself into a situation where I cannot hit a simple metric like calls made or talk time, by being complacent. I cannot control if a customer shows up for a meeting that we've set, but I certainly can overachieve the call volume to attempt to mitigate a pipeline problem in the future."
"I completed my quarterly student reviews five days ahead of schedule this last time around. I worked so hard and put my nose to the grindstone for a week. It was well worth the added effort not to feel the pressure of a looming deadline."
Every place of employment will have its challenges. Talk to the interviewer about a specific issue that you were able to overcome in your previous role. Be sure to remain positive. Avoid complaining or saying negative things about your last employer or co-workers.
"In my most recent position we had an ongoing concern with our most popular stock depleting before the new shipment would come in. Customers would become annoyed and upset, which then became an issue for me as the customer service manager. I decided to document the cycle and then approach the inventory manager about my concern. We were able to work on a solution for ordering from that particular supplier. In the end, this solved the majority of supply issues."
"Clear communication was an ongoing problem in our office when I first started as senior administrator. With the support of management, the use of Microsoft Project, and a weekly status email template, we quickly overcame the communication issues. All five of our departments are now talking to each other instead of pointing fingers."
"In my current position, one ongoing problem is the gossip and separation in the workplace between the warehouse staff and the sales team. I have begun to overcome this by implementing weekly lunch and learns where everyone is welcome. The topics are focused on a variety of situations that we all face in the company. I feel that the better we all understand each other's jobs and functions, the better we can all get along. So far this tactic has been working very well."
"An ongoing issue in our marketing department was a lack of funds allocated to the projects that our board had already approved. It seemed as though they wanted us to perform miracles with very little financial support. To overcome this, we created a catchy new hashtag, and it ended up going viral on Instagram. Luckily we did not have to spend funds to make this happen, and we were able to promote our product to an audience much larger than we thought possible."
"Staff turnover is almost always an ongoing problem in my current position. The company does not pay a high commission, and often our top sales reps are recruited by competitors. I made a recommendation to head office that they incorporate a deeper staff discount as well as one flex day per month. It would cost the organization less money than a raise but would still be enough to satisfy employees who were on the fence."
"Lately the senior sales team has found that our sales assistants had oversold or misrepresented aspects of our product to our clients. It seemed that either they were poorly trained or were so eager to get the "yes" the setting an appointment, that they failed to mention important caveats. Booking appointments are the main KPI the assistants need to reach, which created some glitches when it came to honesty in our product. To overcome this, our sales manager had us collaborate and create a training manual, scripts included, for our sales assistants. By bringing it back to the basics and making sure everyone received proper training, we saw a huge improvement in client satisfaction."
"In my last teaching position, we had a lot of trouble with parent participation and volunteerism. A strong percentage of our parent body were single parents who could not afford to take a day off from work to volunteer. Our faculty came up with the idea of looking for senior citizen volunteers from our community. They were, of course, background checked before being approved. It was adorable to see the young students interacting with the seniors and the seniors cherished the opportunity to support the children in their community."
Problem-solving and dispute resolution are fundamental skills to possess. Display to the interviewer that you are capable of problem-solving within the workplace. Show that you can be a team player, even in the face of conflict.
"In my most recent position we had a consistent problem with employees showing up late for their shifts or calling in sick at the very last moment. Rather than the typical documenting and reprimanding style that management usually takes, I decided to track the results of an accountability reward system. For 180 days, my employees received a reward for coming to work 10 minutes early. Also, for every month with zero sick days, a bonus was added. In the end, we awarded those with perfect attendance a $600 bonus. The bonuses cost us less money, in the end than the cost of lowered productivity due to absent employees. The program was a success, and upper management chose to keep it implemented for another six months. We will reassess in December, but it seems to be working very well."
"I problem solve quite often at work, primarily with customer resolution. Just yesterday I worked with a customer who was unhappy. Through patient communication, I was able to resolve the complaint and create another returning customer."
"I am a frequent problem solver. Last week, I was eating lunch in the break room when I noticed a bottleneck of people from the assembly line all trying to get to the microwave and vending machines. It was a jumbled mess of people, and they only have 30 minutes. I developed a plan to rearrange the break room for better flow, and now the lunchtime process runs smoother for the staff. This small change alone made a huge difference in the morale of my staff."
"I have been able to resolve many issues over my marketing career, primarily surrounding miscommunications with clients. These resolution skills are one reason why, when landing a Director of Marketing role, I implemented an in-depth client intake questionnaire. With this questionnaire, our new clients, and our projects leads have a solid form to refer to after their initial intake. This method has improved communication significantly."
"We recently had a concern surrounding employee theft. As the retail store manager, I needed to get to the bottom of the situation before the issue escalated. I called the corporate head office to collaborate on a plan that followed the HR guidelines. I implemented the plan, which included additional security cameras, and we caught the employee on camera shortly after."
"After meeting with the operational support staff, it was clear that they felt as though they were taken for granted and completely disregarded by the sales staff as a whole. Not only did it make them feel devalued and lower their morale, but that in turn lowered their productivity. Rather than just let these feelings fester, I decided to listen to the ops staff and then bridge the gap with the sales team. By sitting down and having a conversation, and laying out a more effective way of delegating work, everyone walked out feeling better about the job, situation, and their coworkers."
"I recently had a student who was very disruptive in class and often accused of bullying. I notified my principal of the situation. She called the parents in for a meeting that she led; however, I was present. We made a behavior action plan for the student with attached consequences should he deviate from the plan. It worked well and nipped the problem in the bud before there was any real emotional damage done to the other students."
The interviewer would like to know about your previous success with cost-cutting. Every company wants to run as lean as possible, and they want to see that you are conscious of this factor as well. Assure the interviewer that you are capable of understanding the importance of this practice and give a strong example of a time when you have done so.
"The greatest cost-cutting measurement that I accomplished at work was through new suggestions for theft prevention. Since we implemented some of my suggestions our loss, due to theft, has decreased by 12%."
"My biggest cost reducing plan was to source new suppliers for our office supplies. By doing some extra research, I was able to bring costs down by 20% in less than one year."
"I have been able to present cost-cutting suggestions many times to my previous employer. The one that I feel had the biggest impact was when I suggested additional warehouse staff. We had three various shifts and still an average of 100 hours of overtime per week. I presented to my employer that we hire one more warehouse employee for each shift, keeping the hours to just 120 regular vs. 100 hours of overtime pay (@1.5x) This recommendation saved the company $31,000 per year. They implemented this change across 15 warehouses the following year, amounting to nearly half a million dollars in savings per year."
"Cutting costs for clients is always the primary goal in marketing; however, our agency often gets forgotten. We were spending an exponential amount of funds on recruitment, only to have many junior marketers leave us for larger agencies after just one year. For that reason, I made a plan and presented it to our department head. The plan entailed a bonus structure for tenure that would peak at the 24th month of employment, resulting in further employee engagement and, at the very least, doubling average tenure. We just implemented the plan last month, but I am confident in its effectiveness."
"Retail stores are known for having a lot of paper waste such as tissue, bags, plastic, etc. I came up with a new way of packaging our products that utilizes less paper. In a world where we are all very concerned about the environment, this solution will be widely embraced by our clients. Our head office is currently performing a cost analysis on the changes."
"My most prominent cost-saving measure comes regarding productivity on my team. I was able to craft email copy that I saved as a template and could send out a dozen emails at a time, all personalized, to targeted audiences to set appointments. I was able to do this multiple times per day, while also making calls, and doubled my productivity. I shared this tactic with the team, and it was implemented across the board. While I was not in a managerial role, I was able to roughly double productivity, thereby preventing the need for new hires and surpassing our financial targets for KPIs and financial metrics."
"It's no secret that schools are on tight budgets. We were going through a great deal of paper, which is a cost that adds up. I came up with the idea to implement an app where parents could log in and print their forms, paperwork, and any additional paper-based communication sent back and forth. We are currently testing its effectiveness but so far, so good."
It's a good idea to have a 30, 60, and 90-day plan set out when you go into an interview. This approach is especially important when you are applying to a management or sales based position where immediate action and results are expected. You can jot down a few ideas or create a slide presentation with graphs - whatever makes you most comfortable! You can discuss numbers, training achievements, pain points the interviewer has mentioned in the past, or how you plan to fit in with your new team.
"In the first 90 days of working for your organization I plan to accomplish a deep understanding of your client portfolio and begin to call on the clients who have been left cold for 60 days or more. I understand these are the most challenging clients to resuscitate, but it's important to me that I begin my new role with a solid challenge."
"I would like to accomplish a few things in my first 90 days. After giving it some thought, I believe the best action I can take is to get to know each member of the team whom I will be supporting. Some people like communication via phone, some in person, and others prefer a quick email. I plan to learn how everyone prefers to communicate. Next, you mentioned that the electronic filing system is disorganized. I would like to fix that for you, first thing."
"My 90-day plan is to get your team back on track with their tasks, and boost morale. You mentioned in our last interview that this was your biggest pain point at the moment which is why it will be my first area of accomplishment. I plan to meet with each team member individually and created a performance plan for each. Also, I plan to give an anonymous survey that I can learn more about what motivates the team as a group, and where they want to see change. I plan to reduce turnover to just 5% in the next 12 months."
"My first 90 days will be spent getting to know each client on my list, paying them visits or phone calls. I plan to go through each file and find out how we can upsell and tweak their current marketing package. I want to accomplish some impressive new activity and infuse these accounts with fresh creativity."
"My first 90 days will be spent focused on learning your product. I understand that you have 500 different SKU's and I plan to contribute to your excellent customer service standard by providing second-to-none product knowledge. That would be a great accomplishment for me."
"In the first 90 days, I plan to fast-track my training by spending time on the weekends and evenings studying hard. I believe in doing everything faster and better so you will see results and accomplishments from me very quickly. I would like to be on a full sales budget in the first 60 days as opposed to your typical 90 days."
"My first 90 days will be spent getting to know my students. The accomplishment I want to reach the most is to earn their trust and respect. Once that is established, it will make the school year run that much more smoothly."
When you show that you have goals and achievements on the horizon, you are letting the interviewer know that you put thought into your career and what you bring to your employer. Employees who do not have goals set just beyond their reach are typically disengaged and unmotivated. This achievement does not need to be complicated. It can be as simple as finishing a beautiful Powerpoint presentation, finishing work-related coursework, or reaching a sales target.
"This year I have been working towards my Masters' in Accounting while also working full time. This effort has been challenging and rewarding all at the same time. My graduation date is this May, so that is the most significant achievement on the horizon."
"The most significant achievement on the horizon for me is the completion of my Advanced Excel and MS courses. I have learned a great deal, and have a few modules to go. I look forward to applying these new skills to this role with your company!"
"There are a few accomplishments on the horizon for me. Next month will mark 12 months accident-free in the warehouse which I supervise. The end of this year will also mark the lowest employee turnover rate that my current company has seen in their entire history. I look forward to making big strides with your organization, as well."
"I have some great accomplishments on the horizon including the launch of my biggest clients' digital marketing strategy later this month. This account is the biggest that I have worked with, and it's a fascinating campaign. With that said, I look forward to joining your organization and working with large clients like this more often."
"I am graduating with my business administration degree this month and will be ready for full-time work! I am excited to get my career started!"
"On the horizon for me right now is finishing this quarter, top in my company. My sales goal for Q2 was $65,000, and I am currently at $98,000. I seek to tip the scales at over $100K in sales. I love competition so being top of the pack in my organization is very exciting to me."
"I am relocating at the moment so on the horizon for me, and a great accomplishment will be to land a wonderful teaching job at a school in our new region. I am excited about the change this season will bring myself and my family."
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