The interviewer would like to know about a time when you were asked to take on a task for which you knew very little. Have you ever had to take on a responsibility or a role that you felt was over your experience level? Talk to the interviewer about a time when you have dealt with this type of situation. Include the outcome, and what you learned.
"When my manager went on unexpected medical leave for three months last year I was asked to step into her position in the interim. I knew the basics but was certainly not trained on the specifics of the role. I was able to take it on successfully by leaning on my team, reading a lot of company manuals, and asking many questions. Once my manager returned she was very pleased with the progress that I made. This success resulted in a promotion!"
"I am often asked to perform tasks outside of my wheelhouse. These tasks include customer dispute resolution and interviewing potential new employees. I am a diverse employee and am happy to take on additional functions."
"My first management job was the scariest time in my career! I honestly didn't know if I was doing my job correctly. I led by instinct, took leadership workshops, and spent a lot of time reading books related to effective people management."
"I perform new functions on a daily basis and am most challenged when a new marketing technique comes to the industry. I love to learn new strategies; however, in the marketing industry these can change on a dime, and it's often a full-time job just to remain current!"
"I was asked to train an employee on a new point of sale system that I hardly knew. To prepare, I worked overtime, watching online tutorials so that the new employee's training time was well spent."
"In a startup environment, the name of the game is basically 'fake it 'till you make it.' I'm often learning on the fly, especially when a customer has a question about a new product for which I am not completely familiar. I've had to learn to be okay not knowing things and performing a lot of research to compensate. It is a significant challenge, but also very rewarding."
"When I first started my teaching career I was asked to help create a curriculum for students with disabilities. I did not have experience with this, so I teamed up with a special ed teacher, and we worked together. It was a success!"
The interviewer would like to know that you can adapt to sudden changes in the workplace. Change is par for the course in any work environment. Assure the interviewer that you are capable of responding quickly, and professionally, to unexpected situations.
"I can think quickly on the job, and I do respond well to sudden change. Last week I was asked to tweak a presentation with just 30 minutes notice. The changes were significant, but luckily I work well under pressure. The presentation went well, and our clients were delighted."
"I have to think quickly to change every time there are scheduling changes with the Executive whom I support. Most often, this related to delayed flights or changes in travel plans. I have all the major airlines on speed dial, as well as a variety of professional drivers on hand as a backup. This preparedness ensures that my boss can attend all meetings on time, despite travel hiccups."
"I have to respond to sudden change almost daily with the production schedule. A different department prioritizes customer orders, and it is not uncommon for them to change the priority on a given day due to the last minute rush order from a larger customer. You learn to roll with it, and you find the fastest ways to make a successful changeover."
"As a marketing professional, I face last minute, urgent changes on a daily basis. Last week a client agreed on a branding strategy and then the day before we were to launch the site, they requested significant changes to the typeface and color palette. I am very experienced in meeting deadlines on the fly."
"In a retail environment, I have to think on the fly if a customer is trying on an outfit and wants recommendations. Also, customers will often walk up to the desk, ask if we have red sweaters, and I have to do a quick inventory in my head before giving a reply. I make sure to be on top of our current stock at all times."
"In sales, you always have to be on your toes. On more than one occasion, I've had calls come in for emergencies after hours that require a creative solution. Most recently my client had their software crash at 2 AM, and they needed immediate IT assistance. I called my technical team and found someone willing to address the issue in the middle of the night. Part of my success in software sales is working with an amazing IT team that will pull anything together to make a client happy."
"As a teacher, I often have to think quickly in the classroom. Some of these kids are incredibly smart cookies, and they ask questions I have never heard before. I have to quickly craft a response, or find an accurate answer quickly."
How you face unexpected difficulty can say a lot about your character. Talk to the interviewer about a time when you have encountered stress in the workplace. Show that you are capable of professionally handling the unexpected!
"The biggest unexpected difficulty that I have faced was my unexpected lay off during the last recession. I had to adapt to a new economy and search deeply for other skills and opportunities. I was able to earn enough to avoid financial strain and am quite proud of my ability to be versatile when required."
"Unexpected situations happen very often in my current position. For instance, just last week, we had major changes in industry regulations which changed how we could invoice our clients. I worked overtime with the Accounts Receivable department to ensure we complied with the change. It was stressful, but we made it happen."
"A few months ago, when our latest product design failed its endurance test, I had to quickly establish a cause analysis and put my team on corrective alert. This incident was one of those times when I was especially thankful for a responsive team. We all banned together to make the necessary amends to the product design with a minimal financial loss."
"One of the biggest unexpected difficulties came when both my boss and my direct report left within the same week for a new opportunity. I had half of my team but the same amount of workload to bear. I was able to use my leadership skills to pull another teammate on board for our project, and worked extra hours at home to pick up the slack. I was able to bootstrap the client proposal in the same amount of time with fewer hands on deck and land one of our largest clients to date. It was certainly a learning experience and proved that I could, in fact, do anything I set my mind to, with a bit of help from my team."
"Our company was recently acquired by another department store. Nearly our entire group of staff left. I was lucky enough to keep my job; however, morale was low. I tried to keep my head high through it all and remain positive."
"Just last week, one of our most popular products was put on backorder. As an account manager, it was my responsibility to call all 80 of our clients to let them know that their expected shipment was, in fact, not delivered as expected. To make this task easier, I wrote a script which I followed and also came up with an incentive to soften the blow."
"I face unexpected difficulties every day, as a teacher. These difficulties can include a struggling student, an upset parent, or even an unexpected transfer. Part of being a teacher is being resistant to the stress associated with change."
The interviewer would like to know when you have shown a willingness to learn new work methods. With changes in technology and policy, most professionals will need to alter their way of work from time to time. It is a great skill to have when you can approach a problem in a new way.
"When our company came under new management last year many new methods and policies came into place. I was able to learn many new approaches to our challenges in sales and customer management. I quite enjoyed the process, and it brought a sort of fresh air to my daily routine."
"Our company switched to an SAP system last year, which I was not familiar. I enrolled myself in a 4-week evening course at our local community college so that I could quickly learn the system without it affecting my performance at work. It helped a great deal, and my employers were impressed with my willingness to learn."
"I heard about a new best practice in ISO quality control standards. I made about a dozen calls and ended up meeting some peers from other companies for lunch to discuss and share ideas. A short time later, I successfully implemented the ideas I gathered that day. It is always a great idea to learn from industry peers."
"Social media algorithms change constantly and so, I have shown a willingness to learn the new methods by attending one new webinar per week. These webinars are usually focused on Facebook and Instagram strategies with some focus on Google analytics as well."
"Our head office changed our return policy recently, and I needed to learn the new terms overnight. I had to change my verbiage when talking to customers, and no longer offer the extended warranty we once had. It's a challenge to change your habits, that's one thing I know for sure!"
"When applying for a new sales role in the past, I knew they used Salesforce for the CRM. I had very little exposure to Salesforce. Rather than wait until I walked in the first day, expecting them to teach me, I took advantage of Salesforce's numerous tutorials online so I would be familiar with the system from my first day. My new manager and the company's Salesforce admin were both impressed with my familiarity and comfort with the system."
"I am always looking for new teaching methods. I like to read up on new and fun ways to incorporate curriculum and keep the students engaged. I often ask my fellow teachers if they have new tips and tricks well. Being willing to learn, and adapt, is a big part of being a teacher."
The interviewer would like to know about your level of comfortability with change. In addition to being able to handle change, can you also recognize when change is required and be confident enough to present that to your organization? Talk to the interviewer about a time when you were able to suggest change in the workplace.
"Last year when I was managing dispatch I noticed a pretty solid opportunity for us to save on overtime hours. I created a presentation and gave it to my manager who took it to upper management. The changes were implemented, and I was very proud of the suggestion that I made."
"Our company did not have a strong policy when it came to workplace harassment and bullying. I was able to work with the leadership team to create a new program which has been readily welcomed by our staff."
"I have seen a lot of growth in my current company and there came a time, about two years ago, where we needed to make a stronger division between the sales, administration, and marketing divisions. Many employees were wearing multiple hats, and expectations were becoming convoluted. I made a recommendation for the division of roles and tasks, and it's worked tremendously well."
"My current company was a start-up when I first joined, and we did not have any policy in place for reigning in customer changes and requests. I recommended a policy where amends are made within seven days from original submission. The agency owner implemented the idea. As a result, more projects completed ahead of schedule and clients became more decisive."
"I noticed that our current theft protection tags were leaving holes in our more delicate garments. Our business was using the typical magnet and pin style security tags which were quite heavy. I made the recommendation that we change over to the style that stuck to the inside label. They are nearly weightless and also customers like them better because they don't interfere with the shape. We are in the process of implementing the change."
"I had noticed a lack of communication with our 2nd and 3rd shift operations. I drafted a proposal to purchase announcement TVs to have hung in various places in the building to share information and requested a meeting with my department supervisor and the business leader."
"I recommended change recently when I asked that the split classes also have two teachers present in the room. As great as having a 5/6 split can be, there are challenges including learning curve and often bigger class size. My request is currently under review."
The interviewer is looking to see if you are a naturally positive person, or if you air on the side of cynicism. When a change occurs in the workplace do you view it positively or do you resist the change?
"When workplace change occurs I initially try to balance the pros and the cons before reacting. Overall I would say that I prefer to focus on why the changes will work. I am a positive person by nature."
"I am happy to adapt to changes as long as they make sense and help with productivity. I am a team player and will always choose the positive side of things rather than dwelling on the potential difficulties."
"A drive for continuous improvement requires change. I do not agree with making a change, just for the sake of change, but to find more efficient and effective ways to get the job done and increase our productive capacity. I find that my employees respond better when they feel that changes are happening and that the company is being innovative."
"Marketing requires constant change, and I appreciate that you understand this within your agency. I would much prefer to see an attempt at a change to address a problem than a type of environment where we cling to "the way it has always been."
"I really like change. Perhaps that's why I am in the fashion industry! Seasons and styles are fluid, and nothing stays the same."
"I believe that change is almost always good in an organization, especially when it is in response to an issue or an update in response to industry development. That doesn't mean that change is always perfect, or the right course of action, but I am always on board with trying to switch things up for a better outcome. For instance, I encourage my company to change our sales scripts on a quarterly basis so that our telephone sales representatives have something to look forward to."
"As a teacher, I come across a lot of changes, and I have to adapt positively and accordingly. I do what's best for the students and am a change agent for them."
The interviewer would like to know how you handle sudden shifts in priorities. Do you become uber-focused on the task at hand, or are you willing to drop what you are doing, and switch priorities? Discuss a time when you have been asked to change your priorities on a dime.
"In my current role, our schedule is changed on a regular basis and always at short notice. I have been able to adapt very well to these frequent, sudden changes."
"Each time my boss changes his schedule, I need to drop what I am doing and rearrange his meetings or travel plans. These changes happen quite often, so I very well know that a schedule made is not always a schedule kept."
"Every time I have an employee no-show to their shift, I have to shift the day's priorities. I will drop what I am doing, call in a temp or ask another employee to work overtime to cover for the loss. I work in a very reactionary industry and can resist the stress related to change, quite well."
"I had to shift my focus when I learned that we were acquiring a smaller competitor within the week. I had to change my plans to incorporate a new team, with new ideas, process, and procedures. Instead of working on the duties I had scheduled for the week, I had to bring our new team up to speed and integrate everyone. It was a stressful time, but I also learned how well I could adapt to sudden change."
"Every time we receive a new delivery of stock, our team has to change focus on that. We receive the stock, enter the SKU's into the POS system, remerchandise, and place old stock on sale. All this, while our primary focus remains on the customer. It's a lot to juggle, but it's also fun to see the new items we are receiving."
"Recently, I was given a new sales territory and team with pretty much zero notice. I was able to spend time bonding with my new teammates and learning from their expertise in the new-to-me area. By leaning on the team and being open to a new opportunity, I was able to grow as a salesperson and as a leader in the organization."
"Teachers have to shift priorities all the time. We do have our curriculum; however, any small change can completely throw your day. Students can be disruptive, fire alarm testing can occur, or half the class is out due to the flu. You never know what can happen! I change my lesson plans and volume of homework to work around these shifts so that students don't fall behind."
Workloads will increase and decrease as the market demands. The interviewer would like to know how you adapt when the work starts to pile up. Show that you are willing to work faster, put in overtime, or take work home when needed. You will also want to express your time-management abilities.
"I fully understand that my workload will increase from time to time and I easily accept that. Personally, I prefer it when times are busy, so I do not mind an increase in workload now and then."
"In my current position, my workload changes depending on the team and their needs. I can adapt to those needs quickly and effectively. Just last week I had two team members who were sick, and my workload increased significantly. I worked overtime and met my deadlines."
"My workload changes by the minute. Many of my clients have shipping emergencies, and I need to adapt to those as they arise. I keep organized with google calendar and my iPad. What would I do without them!"
"My workload increases as new clients are acquired. It's the ebb and flow of the marketing industry. When my work is piling up, I will ask for assistance from another team member who has a lighter workload. I offer the same assistance to my coworkers when they have a heavy desk as well."
"My work is very seasonal, and when workloads increase, I perform my best. I love having a lot to do as it makes the days go faster and I feel more energized."
"I tend to thrive under pressure, and always have, which is why I started a career in sales. I want to be the top salesperson which often means doing more than my "fair share." I love being busy, so I thrive on those opportunities for more work and additional chances to prove my value."
"Workloads fluctuate, depending on the month, holidays, special testing, and more. I adapt very well and have a great schedule that I follow to ensure that my students never have an overwhelming amount of homework."
The interviewer would like to know your preference when it comes to a predictable versus an unpredictable work routine. Discuss with the interviewer if you are the individual who prefers to know what the method will be for the day, or if you thrive on the challenge and excitement of unpredictability. It's best to display a balance between the two, using the most current position in your answer.
"I prefer working in a more predictable environment because I can be more effective in my tasks. With that said, I can certainly work in an unpredictable environment from time to time. My current role is primarily predictable with a few surprises coming from head office a couple of times per week. These can include scheduling changes, new policies, or additional clients."
"I am comfortable either way, but I would probably grow bored if nothing ever changed. Having a few days of status quo now and then is good for my sanity though."
"I manage a team of twenty unique individuals which means that every day brings me a new challenge. I am a fantastic problem solver and would likely grow bored if days were mundane. Of course, some days without fires to put out, are welcome!"
"As a marketer, with primarily agency experience, I am accustomed to working in an unpredictable environment. I tend to prefer that pace because it's exciting and challenging. It makes every day different and fun. That's not to say that some time spent in predictability isn't welcome, though!"
"If my schedule changes, I can certainly adapt; however, I much prefer working on a set schedule. The customer type will change, but I do like to have my expectations laid out for me."
"I like to have a bit of both. I have a general schedule that I follow in the morning including a team huddle, setting objectives for the day, following up with clients, and then setting new meetings with prospects. That said, the in-between of that framework is always pretty unpredictable. In sales, you never know what might happen. More often than not, there is some hassle throughout the day so that variety keeps me on my toes, engaged, and excited."
"No day is the same when you are in the education industry. I wouldn't have it any other way! I prefer to switch up the day, offer my students time to move around, have fun, and learn through exploration."
Being able to problem solve and think outside the box when it comes to changing situations is a valuable skill set. Talk to the interviewer about your ability to create a variety of potential scenarios. You may never need to take on these scenarios; however, it's great for the interviewer to know that you can adapt your plan on the fly.
"I feel that it is essential to create alternative scenarios in all situations. One cannot guess what will happen in the end, so it is great to prepare for all possible outcomes."
"As an administrative professional, it's essentially my biggest job requirement to be ready to adapt at all times. I always have a Plan B and C ready to go. This level of preparedness is part of what makes me so valuable in my current role."
"Alternate scenarios are great to have, but I prefer to stay focused on my desired outcome. So long as my team is on board with the goals we have yet to achieve, I am confident that we will always reach Plan A."
"I love having contingency plans. It's important for a marketing team to understand that ideally, we are going to do 'X,' but if that fails, we need to be ready to hop on and make sure that 'Y' happens. It takes out the uncertainty, and is sure to prepare everyone to adapt if a problem should arise."
"Any customer facing role can be unpredictable and requires a great amount of adaptability. Recently we had a huge recall of a popular gaming product. We had customers lining up outside in the morning to make returns. I quickly made a plan for the returns, along with a potential upsell, so that we could still benefit from the error."
"Nothing is a guarantee in sales, that is one thing I know for sure. I always create 'what-ifs' because I know that plans change quickly, especially where there are multiple decision makers between myself and closing the deal. Plan B is always ready to go."
"As a teacher, if you do not have alternate scenarios planned, you will quickly be railroaded! Students are unpredictable, so it's best to have a backup plan for anything. One example is when it's field trip day, it's pouring, and your activity is to take place outdoors. These types of scenarios happen all the time, and a great teacher will always be ready."
The interviewer would like to know more about your ability to adapt and thrive, in stressful situations. This question is hypothetical, so you'll likely need to use your imagination when answering. Show the interviewer that you are capable of adapting to a tough situation.
"If my current company shut down today I would tap into my network, call everyone I knew, and look for a company that needed someone with my skillset. I wouldn't let it get me down, and I would certainly hit the ground running in my job search."
"If my company closed down, with no notice, I would register as a temporary admin assistant right away. Before landing this full-time position, I worked temporary roles for nearly a year. Although it was hard not knowing what work would be available, and when - it was fun to have the variety. I would make the best of the situation."
"That's a tough question! I have been with my company for so long that this is the first role I have applied for in ten years. If I lost my job today, I would call in a few favors from industry peers. I have a strong network and a good reputation in this industry so I wouldn't be too worried."
"Marketers are often great with public relations so if I lost my job today, I would spruce up my resume, update my website, tidy up my LinkedIn profile and start sending off messages!"
"There are many retail jobs available; however, I am choosy where I land. For that reason, if I lost my job today, I would take to the internet and research best places to work in my area. That's how I found your job posting!"
"Sales professional easily adapt! If I lost my job today, I would knock on the doors of my clients and competitors until someone hired me!"
"If my school closed down tomorrow I would make it work by gaining private tutoring gigs, and taking on substitute teaching jobs until a full-time position became available. I am confident in my ability to find a role quickly because of my solid reputation as a caring and skilled teacher."
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