The interviewer wants to know that you can handle stressful or uncomfortable situations in a professional manner. Keep your answer simple and precise. Stay away from long drawn out stories. Briefly, describe a time when you resolved a customer service issue. Highlight your ability to remain patient and rational.
"I worked in a retail customer care center and had to navigate angry customer experiences more times than I would have liked. People who are upset want to be heard and respected. I would listen, empathize and reassure the customer that I am there to support them and resolve the matter. Communication and reassurance are important throughout the process. If I needed to check on an order or get back to the customer, I would set expectations to explain what I was doing and when they would hear back. I am proud to say that I have successfully turned more detractors into promoters than anyone else in our organization."
"As an Administrative Assistant, I address angry customers on a daily basis. They are upset about being asked to hold. When this happens, I 'kill them with kindness' but profusely thanking them for their patience and letting them know they now have my full attention. I would say this method works 99% of the time."
"I once was a customer service manager at a call center. I had many angry customer calls, but one, in particular, I remember well. The customer had ordered a dish set, but when it arrived, it was missing half the pieces. She had unfortunately set on hold with us for over 30 minutes waiting to be helped and was irate when I told her that our policy was that she had to send the entire order back, then we would issue a refund, and she could reorder it. She just wanted us to ship the missing pieces. She ended up getting a refund and did NOT reorder from us. She likely never will again. I did make sure she received her refund, and I spoke with our corporate head office about the long wait times and the possibility of changing our return policies. It was not a good situation, but I made the best of it."
"Just last week, a customer called our design team because he was unhappy with a particular design we were creating for him. I reassured him that we would modify the design to his liking before finalizing the project. We spoke further and, in the end, I realized he was feeling uncomfortable not being a part of the decision-making every step of the way. With any customer complaint I remain patient, listen to their concerns, and reassure the customer we would do anything within reason to satisfy their requests."
"A specific instance relates to the rollout of our new return policy, and for the first time, we requested an ID when making a return without a receipt. One customer, after being asked for ID for a return assumed it was a race issue, and she was irate. I had to intervene with the very frazzled employee and take a step back, explain the "why" of the new policy, and ensure her it has zero to do with her, but was a company-wide, country-wide policy. After taking time to hear her concerns, validate why she would be upset, and explain it all in context, she happily handed over her ID and returned and thanked me for my patience with her explosion."
"A client was delivered a damaged piece of goods that we sold him. For a $30,000 piece of inventory, he was understandably agitated. Within five minutes of receiving an irate email, I hopped on the phone with him to address the issue. I had my COO and Director of Operations, who handles problem resolution, in the room so he would feel that the issue was being taken care of by upper management. Through a 10-minute conversation, not only did we resolve his issue, buy back the piece of inventory, and have pick-up arranged for that very afternoon. We also piloted a new program with him to take the balance sheet risk off of him, which pleased him. So much, in fact, that he committed to buying another five pieces of inventory that same week."
"I had a parent that was upset that their child experienced exclusion from Spanish class. This exclusion was due to their IEP and special services scheduling. The student went to speech and social work during my Spanish class. This fact didn't stop the parent from showing frustration with me, so I was sure to find time to sit down and speak with her, and show that I heard her frustration. I asked our principal to join us, and we were able to figure out a better schedule for the following semester that would allow her child to attend Spanish class as well as have his minutes in speech and social work per his IEP. By showing I understood her frustration and was willing to work with her, she immediately softened and was thrilled that we were so receptive to her concerns."
Most interviewers will ask you about your strengths and weaknesses; however, this question is specifically tailored for the interviewer to see what successes you value in the workplace. Ensure that the accomplishment you list is work-related. Think about the times when you were given extra kudos in the workplace or when you received a special award. Give the interviewer a brief overview of your accomplishment including why it was special for you.
"In my current position, I reduced costs by reviewing packing slips, contracts, invoices and calling out vendor billing errors. Then, I assisted Accounts Receivable by helping make collection calls which brought in revenue that we would have lost. Lastly, I created a new filing system that helped us research transactions faster. These changes resulted in a 15% revenue increase in just 90 days."
"My greatest accomplishment is actually from my time in University. I graduated top of my Business Administration class while also holding down a full-time admin job. It was a true success story, and it encouraged me!"
"Early in my career, I created an entire department, structure, and team from scratch. It was gratifying. In my last role, I created a social cause program for our organization that gave back to the community and got our teams involved in something greater than ourselves. I have many great wins in my management career and look forward to gaining more, with your organization."
"Easily my proudest moment was setting a company record for fastest hire-to-promotion. To come to a new opportunity, crushing expectations, and see that rewarded exactly how I had hoped was such an awesome feeling and something I am incredibly proud of."
"I would have to say that my proudest moment professionally was being the youngest employee in my company to be promoted to department manager. I worked hard to meet my sales targets and also spent time mentoring new hires."
"Two of my proudest career accomplishments have occurred this year, in my current position. I earned a spot in the President's Club and top Customer Choice in our entire division. This recognition meant so much to me because it showed me that my dedication and tenacity truly paid off. I won the President's Club annual trip to Mexico which was exciting."
"My biggest work-related accomplishment came around the time when the school district cut my elementary Spanish program for budgetary reasons. The parents of my students rallied to ensure the district, the board, and the principals all knew that it was not an option to cut the program. I had former students speak about how important Spanish has been for them and how impactful I was as a teacher. I knew then, just how big of a difference I had made at that community school."
The interviewer wants to know how you handle making risky decisions. As a successful professional, you know to calculate risk in your industry. Tell the interviewer about a work-related risk you have taken and what the outcome was. Start with an overview of the decision you needed to make, and explain why it was risky. Describe who the situation affected, as well as the possible outcomes. Complete your answer by sharing how the decision paid off, or by mentioning any recognition you received for your success.
"The riskiest decision I ever made was to leave the recruitment industry to move into workforce planning, as a consultant. The risk meant that if I were unsuccessful, I would be looking for a new job in a plodding economy. The pay off would be that I would finally be in a sector in which I was truly interested. I made a great career for myself for the next eight years, which has brought me here today - with an exceptional opportunity in front of me."
"The riskiest career choice I have made was asking for a reduction in hours, from full time to part time employment, to pursue my degree in Business Administration. My boss could have let me go, but he didn't. In fact, he openly supported my pursuit of higher education."
"My riskiest decision was to ship a customer order late because I was not satisfied with the quality audit. The numbers were within the threshold, but not to par. In the end, while the customer was unhappy to receive a late order, she was happy that we cared enough to investigate any potential problems."
"One of the riskiest decisions I made was to leave corporate America and join a startup with an innovative idea. The company was seeking to provide a product/service that would pioneer a new industry. We worked harder and smarter to launch and create a new space in the nutraceutical marketplace. We failed a lot along the way, but we learned to fail fast, and it made us all better professionals."
"I think the riskiest decision I've made is taking steps to pursue this position. I am seeking out an opportunity, which would result in leaving a 5-year tenure at a successful store, where I've risen through the ranks and made a name for myself, to start fresh and challenge myself professionally."
"Easily the riskiest career decision I've made was to leave an established organization where I was being groomed for a general manager role, to try my hand at a technology startup. Most of my family thought I was nuts when I did it, but I felt it my gut it was what I needed to do. I was right. Not only did I get to experience a different, more innovative culture, team, and product, but also I was able to be a real difference maker in the organization, rather than continue to chug away at a 10,000+ person corporate entity. That leap brought me to more opportunities I never thought possible."
"When I came back to work after having my kids -- and leaving was seen as potentially risky, might I add -- I had two options on the table. I could have worked as a high school Spanish teacher or an elementary Spanish teacher. I chose Elementary. This example may not sound risky, but a few years prior, the district had floated the idea that elementary Spanish should be cut to save money, so I came into a position that was potentially on the cutting block."
The interviewer wants to hear about a particular situation where you used good judgment to solve a work problem. Be sure to showcase your logic and reasoning abilities. Share a brief overview of the problem, discuss the pro/cons of each decision you could have made, and tell the interviewer why the solution you chose was the best.
"Just yesterday I had a customer who was upset because our sales associate would not refund a garment that this customer had already worn. She was outside of the 14 days return policy as well. I am the assistant manager, so I stepped in to alleviate the situation. By showing the customer that I could meet her in the middle, she was able to calm down and reason with me. I did not refund her the price of the garment; however, I offered her a $25 in-store credit. I know this will cost my company mere dollars and, in the end, I had a happy customer again."
"I use good logic every day! As an administrative assistant, I face a multitude of scheduling problems. I used logic by figuring out how to arrange my executive's schedule through the path of least resistance. I will first call the most flexible appointments to reschedule, and work my way down the list from there."
"I once had to solve a space issue in our warehouse. I rearranged the shipping lanes to allow for smaller customers to be combined in one area and arranged by the scheduled truck arrival, and large customers to have their dedicated shipping area. This change made locating shipments to load onto trucks much easier. My team of operators was thrilled with the change."
"Logic is a huge part of the creativity in marketing, believe it or not. When I take on a new client, I always ask them what their biggest pain point is. Using the logic and the thought process of a customer, I create a marketing strategy from there."
"In retail these days, you always have to be weighing the potential of being blasted or praised on social media. One example that comes to mind was the termination of an employee. It was clear that this person was not going to work out, despite my best efforts at coaching and mentoring. Over the course of three shifts, I worked with her, coached her, and gently allowed her to realize on her own that this position was a poor fit. By the end of the third shift of coaching out, she let me know that she was putting in her notice. By taking a different approach, we avoided the disgruntled exit of an employee. She now comes into the store as a friendly customer, so it did turn out well for all parties."
"I had a customer who was unhappy with his purchase (the item in question cost over $20k). Although my support team said just to let him be and have him work with our Director of Operations to resolve the issue, I knew that I could lose a several hundred thousand dollar customers over a one time issue, so I was not about to let that happen. By stepping in and mediating the call and assuring him that we would work together to not only solve the issue but address the arbitration process in the future, I was able to turn a disgruntled customer who threatened to never purchase again into a top buyer for the company and me."
"My fourth-grade classes were recently working on a project for our family unit, and one of the students was quiet and unengaged in the middle of the lesson. He's usually bubbly and participates fully, so I found a moment when I could quietly sneak over to speak with him. He didn't know what to put as his mom's picture since she died when he was a baby. I was brokenhearted for him, but we had a moment to talk about how we can be sad but still remember our loved ones and how they're always a part of our family. By being in tune with my class and any aberration in its behavior, I was able to uncover and address an issue that resulted in a happy, smiling boy again."
Show the interviewer that you will still get the job done even when you aren't excited about the task at hand. Think about a time when there was a work-related task that you did not want to do. Perhaps the dreaded file room needed to be purged of outdated files to make room for the new. Tell the interviewer what your task was, and explain why you were not excited about it. Be sure to tell the interviewer that even though you were not enthusiastic about the mission, you made it happen promptly knowing that it would help the organization as a whole.
"I like to set rewards for myself when there are undesirable tasks at hand. For instance, a large part of what I do is review all of the resumes that come into our job portal on a weekly basis. Sometimes there will be up to 200 resumes to review. They all begin to look the same over time, so I have set a goal to look at 20 at a time, give myself a quick break, then return to the task."
"I am sometimes handed the task of cleaning out our huge supply closet. It had become a junk room full of random things that we never use. I rarely want to do it, but I found the motivation to complete the task by focusing on how a more organized supply room would make everyone's life easier."
"Terminating any staff member is a task that I do dread. I balance this by reminding myself that we have a fantastic new employee lined up as a replacement who will perform better and compliment the positive workplace culture I work so hard to craft."
"I find our initial client calls to be a bit mundane. I spend these calls regurgitating their information back to them before we begin a project; however, I realize it's necessary to ensure there is zero loss of communication. I try to make these calls fun by letting my personality shine through, and throwing in fun questions now and then."
"No one in retail likes cleaning out the dressing rooms and doing take-backs, honestly. As a supervisor, I never show that I don't like performing these particular tasks. I like to be sure to incentivize myself and my team to make these tasks fun. I will run little contests for the team such as whoever gets their section of the store perfectly organized, gets a coffee on me."
"I do not always like filling out a CRM. I don't think any salesperson does. We like the call, the chase, the close. Taking time to pause and write out the details of our conversation, projections, and all that jazz is not something we look forward to doing because it slows us down. However, it's a necessary step in the sales process. Not only does it ultimately help that sale go better when the CRM is filled out in full detail, but also it helps inform the next sales' close rate. It's an essential tool in the sale, and even if it takes slowing down and doing a seemingly monotonous task, I understand its a job that will help me as a salesperson and the organization as a whole."
"Report cards are never fun. I have over three hundred students, so it's an enormous task. I like to try to make them personalized since I know the parents appreciate the added effort. So, it becomes a rather large project. In any event, it has to get done, and I make sure to break the reports up by class and complete one class per day. It's not a fancy process, but it works for me. I believe the extra effort is appreciated."
This question is designed to learn how well you work under pressure. Avoid choosing a time that you were in danger of missing the deadline because of poor planning on your part such as procrastination. Instead, choose a situation that was out of your control.
"Last month, our corporate head office requested a full inventory count at random. We were given just two days to complete this count when, usually, these inventory counts were given three full days to complete. I was the team lead at the time, so I rescheduled us to work longer split shifts to ensure we met the timeline without overworking anyone. I turned the task into a competition where the first person to complete their inventory section received two free movie tickets. My plan worked well! We finished the inventory count in just 39 hours and the team remained motivated."
"My team and I were recently under a deadline to complete a global employee satisfaction survey. Our deadline was set to execute the project from start to finish within six weeks. Before beginning, we came across one main roadblock that was going to prevent us from accomplishing this. Global customs would take six weeks to ship the surveys in and out of the facility. We came up with a solution to email the surveys and still include the coding that would catalog the results by location and department. It was our transparency in communications and collaborative work environment that helped us meet the deadline and deliver the results to the leadership team."
"This past year our regional manager wanted to have a new rep hired and trained for the first week of January. She informed me of this only on the first of December. To expedite the process, I requested a budget allowance to hire a recruiter. The recruiter worked fast, and we had an offer out to the perfect candidate in just three weeks."
"I was once part of a team that had a major set back based on the crash of our project management software. I went to the project backup database, quickly reviewed everyone's open tasks, rearranged the schedule and called an emergency team meeting to set us back on course. We barely made it in time, but we made it."
"I was called in at the last minute to help complete a buying deadline. Our previous manager had left suddenly, so, literally 20 hours into the new role; I was asked to make buying recommendations for next season. I stayed up pretty much all night reviewing last year's data for the same season, to make an educated recommendation to the buyer and sent it along to corporate. They made their buying decision based off of my recommendation. I was so nervous through the entire season that I may have made an inaccurate representation of our data and put my department's budget at risk. As it turned out, I was pretty near dead on and we had a successful summer season."
"I am tasked with cold calling 100 potential new clients per day. I had a chaotic week just a couple of weeks ago where the Monday was a holiday, on Tuesday our company database was down, and on Wednesday, I was out for half of the day on in-person client calls. This setback meant that I needed to complete five days of work in just 2.5. I spent a few hours of overtime and skipped my lunch breaks so that I would meet my target."
"Last summer during curriculum writing, we were having some conflict about what would be added, cut, or kept. Because of this, we got a bit behind. Ultimately, we ended up working extra hard and some longer hours than usual in the last week to make the final revisions to the curriculum. I believe that passion showed in our final decision since the following year was the most fun, inspired, and arguably effective curriculum we'd developed to date."
The interviewer wants to know how you go about achieving goals when you lack explicit instruction from your manager or company. Part of the point of this interview question is to find out where your moral compass lands when company rules are not clear. Give the interviewer an example of a time when you had to cope with very few guidelines.
"One of my earlier positions was for a family-run furniture company with very few guidelines or rules of engagement when it came to sales, service, and the common protocols. It was pure chaos, but I did my best by following what I intuitively felt was the best decision. I ended up being the top salesperson and promoted to manager."
"I worked for a small family-owned agency for a while. Most processes were not formally written down or included in my onboarding training. I made it my project to create "what-if" scenarios, get answers from the bosses, and compile a troubleshooting list to work from."
"As a manager, I understand the need for clear guidelines and expectations. In my current role, I created a playbook of sorts for my team to follow. I don't like to enforce rules explicitly; rather, I hope that my team will use their training, knowledge, and intuition to make the best decisions."
"Working in an online marketing start-up company, there were many situations where rules and guidelines were not clear. I took it upon myself to identify the need. My team and I needed direction. So, I drafted the rules and guidelines and came up with a system for others to contribute. Together, we created the internal structure that the company operates in today!"
"I've had a position where the company did have clear guidelines and procedures. However, the manager didn't follow that set of rules and instead implemented her own. This situation was not only odd but also tricky. To please my boss, I had to follow her rules but to move up in the company and please corporate; I had to follow theirs. Ultimately, I found an excellent middle ground that kept me productive, my boss happy with my sales and productivity, and was presumably pleasing to the store managers and corporate. I later moved to a different department into a leadership position. All that to say, I'm comfortable in awkward, figure-it-out situations, and can figure out a way to succeed and keep all parties happy, no matter what the parameters."
"In startups, hard set rules are difficult to find. You are to sell and hit your metrics, but it's 99% a figure-it-out-yourself situation. This situation can be an awesome opportunity to pilot out your ideas and tactics almost all of the time, as long as you're comfortable with trial and error and creative license. I have loved this opportunity to create my approach to my building my book of business. Yes, it can be frustrating when you feel lost, but I've always found that my ideas coupled with putting my head together with teammates and those that have been there longer than I will yield results and allows me to have fun while I'm at it!"
"During a transition period when we had no department chair, you could say guidelines were unclear. There was no one necessarily mandating that we hold our meetings, for instance. However, a few us knew that it was beneficial to us as teachers, and the department as a whole, to continue. We took turns leading the meetings and acting as though each of us was the supervisor for the following two weeks, passing the torch to the next teacher as she stepped in. This method allowed for us to continue growing and learning, collaborating, and also be ready to transition to the new official team lead seamlessly."
The interviewer wants to see that you are confident enough to take the initiative when the opportunity arises. Talk about your motivation and passion for being an active leader in the workplace. Describe any project or learning experience where you saw a chance to lead and took advantage of it. Talk about the success of the project and your biggest takeaway from experience.
"In my previous role, I recognized that our team needed a training program to bring others in at a quicker rate. I took the initiative to create the training program, playbook and schedule, incorporating all the work we did in a way that people could easily replicate. The team loved having it, and more so, enjoyed having others, fully trained, join us quickly."
"When I first started in my current role, I took it upon myself to organize the digital files for the company. They were a mess, and it was a huge challenge, but I was pleased with my ability to take on a project that nobody else wanted to do."
"In my previous role, I took the lead on a communication project to help pass along pertinent information to our 2nd and 3rd production shift in a more effective way. We ended up hanging announcement screens throughout the building. The project was a success."
"Our company was discussing a new product launch into the European market. I reached out to the head of the marketing department and asked if I could be the lead product researcher. I stated my case by discussing why I would be the best fit for that opportunity. She agreed and gave me the opportunity to take the lead. The project was a great success which gave me the confidence to speak up again. Next week I will be starting another project where I'll be the lead product researcher."
"When our new season's merchandise comes it, we often require a lot of extra hours to get settled. Although I am not a manager, I do help to organize the team while ensuring that the sales floor remains attended. I like the organization aspect and am a positive person, so people naturally want to follow me."
"In my last role, I identified the need for ongoing learning and training, so I founded our weekly lunch-and-learns with a different weekly topic. I worked across departments to feature different guest lecturers and industry experts from our board to educate the sales team better so we would all be more effective in our pitches."
"I took the lead by spearheading the development of testing our curriculum. I suggested we write and implement testing of the students' knowledge and helped delegate, compile, and ultimately approve the tests we ended up using. They've proven very effective, and we've refined our curriculum and targets because of it."
The interviewer wants to hear more about your decision making and critical thinking skills. Keep your answer career based and discuss a decision you made where you may not have had all of the pertinent information. The interviewer would like to see that you can use logic to make a sound decision. Show the interviewer that you are capable and confident when it comes to independent thinking and decision making. Be sure to include the success you saw in your sound decision making.
"In my current role, I am responsible for creating the weekly schedule for 56 staff members. When I first took on the responsibility of scheduling, I did not have any data regarding our busiest times of the week and day. I had to guesstimate our customer traffic while remaining under the staffing budget and, at the same time, not understaffing. I used my logic and critical thinking skills to fill in the blanks for the data that I did not have. It worked out quite well for me. Now I fully understand our customer traffic flow which has made staff scheduling a breeze."
"As an executive assistant, ambiguity is a large part of my daily reality. I always do the best with the information I have to keep things moving. I often find myself making decisions wishing I had just a little bit more data. In these cases, I look at everything I have, create what-if scenarios for several variables and select the best possible option."
"Before my company had an HR department, I had to make executive decisions related to hiring and terminating. The information I was often missing were some of the questions a candidate would ask, such as details on benefits, for example. I was able to connect with an account representative of the benefits company, and they agreed to be the first point of contact for any questions by those being on-boarded."
"Often, our clients are vague on their needs because they don't fully know themselves what they seek. I have had to fill in the blanks many times. I always know my clients well so I am comfortable making executive decisions when they cannot."
"Often when a customer dispute arises, I only have a piece of the puzzle to go off of, whether because they haven't given the full story, or I'm pulled in by the associate who heard the full story. In either case, it's something I'm accustomed to and deal with daily. I assess quickly what category the problem seems to fall in, and go from there. Nine times out of ten, my first assessment was right. I solve the issue from there."
"Once, I had a customer looking for a particular piece of inventory, and it was hard to source. Nationwide, there were only two products that met the criteria and both were seemingly identical, but I had to choose which was better to purchase on his behalf. With a price tag of $50k+, it was a significant decision to make, since we would have to absorb the difference if there were damages or issues with the unit. I was able to use my industry knowledge, and understanding of the different types of sellers, as well as my instinct on how my buyer would have thought through the situation to choose the piece of inventory. By using context and prior knowledge, as well as a bit of inference, I was able to make the purchase that resulted in a pleased customer."
"For years the department didn't have any way to quantify if our teaching methods were effective. Two years ago, I proposed that we set up four tests throughout the year to test cumulative knowledge. That summer, we sat down and wrote those tests and have been using them since. Now we shape all of our curriculum decisions off of actual data instead of having to disagree with or follow a gut feeling."
The interviewer wants to know how you handle pressure when an unexpected stressor arises. Being able to make quick decisions and think fast on your feet sets top-notch professionals out from the crowd. We all make a lot of choices every day, so start off by telling the interviewer that you make a lot of quick decisions each day. Next, be prepared for a more significant example that will be sure to impress.
"My current position requires me to make tough decisions on a regular basis. I work well under pressure like that. With split-second decisions, I will always go with my initial instinct. Last week, I had two high-profile clients show up for a meeting at the same time. One client was late, and the other was early. I did not want anyone to feel bad for being late or too early, so I had each party placed in a different conference room. My colleague started the meeting with our early meeting while I met with the client who was late. It worked out well because I am no stranger to multi-tasking and I have great support staff."
"In my current administrative role, this happens often! We handle a lot of customer situations and put them first and foremost. Often, we have guidelines we follow, and there are also times when situations call for creative solutions to meet customer needs. I make split-second decisions when resolving these matters, always keeping the best interest of the company in mind."
"In my previous role at Company ABC, the senior plant manager was out one day, and there was a bottleneck on the production line. As the assistant plant manager, it was up to me to pull the team together. I reviewed the schedule and made a quick decision to double up on our hours for the following day. We were able to catch up, and no customers were affected."
"I had a client approve website copy that did not agree with me. Something sounded off, but I couldn't fully put my finger on it. The day we were supposed to launch, I pulled the plug and sent recommended changes to the client. It was a risk, but it worked out better in the end. The client gained further trust in my work, and I learned that it's always best to follow your intuition."
"Last month, my manager quit on the spot while I was the assistant manager, therefore all responsibility transferred to me during the middle of the shift, on the floor. It was understandably uncomfortable, but I took it in stride. I took a quick second to take a breath, get my head in the game, and took charge of the floor, reassuring everyone of that things would go on as usual and delegating tasks as needed."
"The best example of my split-second decision making is when it also helped me close a huge deal. We were two online demos into a six-figure deal and had the third demonstration set up for the next day, where all stakeholders would be in attendance. As soon as I hung up the phone, I grabbed my manager and told him that I was going to either drive or fly to their location because I believed an in-person meeting would be the difference maker. I believe to this day that the deal would not have closed, or it would have dragged out a considerable amount of time had I not arrived to do the demo in person. Going above expectations will never fail you, in sales."
"There are constant split-second decisions as a teacher, often surrounding how to handle behavior from students, who to group, and the like. I wouldn't describe this as anything out of the ordinary, but I had a student with some significant behavior issues have a breakdown in class. I quickly had to assess how to handle the situation best to protect best his safety, and that of other students, without alarming anyone. I was able to quickly grab an aide and another classroom and get help for this student. We called the nurse as well. By reacting swiftly, I was able to contain a potentially volatile and traumatic situation. My adrenaline was flowing, but it felt good to make a great decision in a high-stakes situation."
The interviewer wants to know that you can learn new skills, under pressure. Hiring managers want to hear that you are willing to put in the effort required to learn new skills, even when it may seem difficult. Think about the times when your company implemented new software, or when you learned a new procedure. Perhaps your employer has asked you to attend a workshop at the last minute, or you had to study for a policy exam. These make great examples! Discuss how you diligently studied related materials, attended a training seminar, or bought a book to help you learn the new content. Keep in mind; this is another excellent opportunity to express that you accept workplace changes with ease.
"In my most recent role, I was unfamiliar with their hospital record keeping system. After a few days of on the job training, I was able to maintain the hospital record keeping system, but I still wasn't happy with my fluency. I found tutorials online and spent evenings training myself to a deeper level of knowledge. It was nice to dive in, learn the system well, and have that sense of accomplishment early on in my role."
"When I first began my administration career, I started as a temp with an agency. Placed in a variety of roles that changed weekly and sometimes even daily, I often jumped into roles where there was a lot to learn in a short time. Deadlines were often due yesterday. I utilized and maximized my resources to the fullest. I learned about plenty of industries and best of all, had fun doing it!"
"Our company recently implemented a new SAP system. Not only was I tasked with learning the system but I also needed to train my team of five on the use of the system. I had two weeks, so I took a lot of the modules home, watched a plethora of tutorials online, and even utilized some how-to videos on YouTube. I did it, and was proud of the accomplishment."
"Our agency implemented a new design program recently, and I needed to know the ins and outs of it to work effectively on my largest client project. I hunkered down, put a sign on my cubicle that said, 'Do not feed the animals' and got to work researching and learning. Everyone understood that I needed some time, and they reserved calling my name for urgent requests only."
"I was promoted to assistant manager in a new department with basically two days' notice. While it was super exciting, it was an entirely unfamiliar department. From the employees to the merchandise, it was all brand new. I took the bull by the horns and got to business learning everything I could about their past inventory, what sells well, and the dynamics of their team, so that I could be as efficient as possible right out the gate. However, I also recognized that I would be most useful if I were to be open about not knowing things and seek out the guidance of the current staff. This approach proved to not only educate me but also to earn their respect. By leading with an eager and humble heart and mind, I got down to business and up to speed within a week."
"When I started my first sales position, I took a pay cut for a highly commissioned opportunity. I had to hit the ground running to get commissioned more quickly and move up the ranks. I had to learn about the car industry in no time so that I could start making appointments and sales. I spent the first week shadowing everyone I could, reading the industry publications after hours, and even went to a dealership on the weekend to walk through as though I were purchasing a used car. I wanted to understand them from the customer perspective. By Monday, I felt fully ramped and was making appointments and running demos."
"There are always moments of learning on the fly, as a teacher. One instance that stands out, in particular, is regarding a new student with severe special needs whose parents asked that he be mainstreamed for Spanish. I needed to learn overnight how to best include this student in my classroom without missing a beat teaching him, or the other students. He had certain triggers that I needed to learn and avoid, and I wanted him to be successful. I read his IEP cover to cover, spoke with his aide, classroom teacher, and parents to better understand him and his situation. The next day, he stayed for Spanish and had a huge grin on his face and clapped throughout the lesson. It was so fun and rewarding to see. He connected well with the curriculum and the other students."
This question is designed to determine if you can function well in a competitive environment. Think back to a time when you were racing others to achieve the highest sales, were working towards a promotion, or eagerly trying to win a new contract. Show the interviewer that you rose to the challenge and that you were excited to push yourself to be the best. It is a definite plus if you have cheered on your competitors and helped them along the way. Finally, be sure to mention any successful outcome.
"My current sales position is highly commission based, so my colleagues and I are quite competitive. Despite being competitive, we have a great work environment where we help each other when someone is struggling to meet their quota. We coach each other on sales techniques and share success stories. The result has been a positive work environment with healthy competition."
"There is not often a chance for competition, as an Administrative Assistant; however, our office does a fundraising challenge every Thanksgiving that involves raising sponsors for an office-wide 5K race. Every year, we donate 100% of the funds to sponsoring two families for their Christmas needs. It gets competitive, and all for a great reason!"
"In my current role, we have four department managers. We are always in a friendly competition to see who can save the most money on hours per quarter, follow procedures the closest, and have an accident free month. It's fun, but we also take these KPI's seriously at the same time."
"Our company introduced a 'friendly' competition between two agency locations. It turned into a fierce contest to see who could increase their productivity, decrease errors, and maintain our high-quality standards while earning the highest amount of positive client reviews. Our team worked tirelessly and harder than usual. We won, and all received a new iPad. The whole event was a lot of fun."
"In retail, Christmas time can be the most competitive. Numbers are high, and everyone is trying to outdo last years' performance while also earning the most commission. This season is often the time when managers introduce an incentive program to make us hustle even further. Also, there were rumors of a promotion in the coming months, which, coupled with the sales incentive, really made me and another employee want to prove ourselves worthy of both prizes. We made a handshake deal that we'd play nice, but at the end of the day, each of us still wanted to win."
"The most competitive I've ever been in a work environment was when I was up for promotion against another sales executive in another region. The leadership, brilliantly or otherwise, let us know that we were both the contenders and essentially pitted us against one another. I hunkered down and worked extra long hours and got my team on board to create and execute a plan to surpass our quota. It worked, and earned the promotion! I knew I could hold my head high about how I behaved during the competition."
"Teaching environments are rarely competitive; however, I am internally competitive when it comes to helping a student to improve their performance. I like to set goals for my struggling students and coach them in a way that speaks to their internal competitive streak."
Change is prevalent in today's workplaces, and interviewers want to know that you can embrace change. Perhaps your job duties changed, there was a significant change in policy, you had to welcome a new manager, or your company was acquired. These situations make great examples to draw on. Pick an example where you enjoyed the change the most, or where the result was the most positive. Explain how this change directly affected your job, and tell the interviewer how you maintained a positive approach during the transition. Finally, be sure to mention that evolution is a part of the workplace today, and you recognize that your role as an employee is to embrace it, encourage others to accept it, and be ready to learn new ways of doing things continually.
"Last year, we changed our patient check-in process. I was required to learn a completely new software system in a short amount of time. To tackle this challenge, I took a weekend-long online workshop to master the program. I find that when there is a major change in the workplace, it's best to take the learning curve on as a positive challenge. I encouraged my co-workers to do the same course, and it was beneficial for them as well."
"Our management team was turning over and changing due to a merger. I coped by learning as much as I could about the new company, their style, and their leaders. Luckily I avoided layoff through the process."
"Last year, my company shuffled a lot of our team under no notice which meant that, overnight, the team of 40 that I was leading, became a team of 60. I had a great rapport with the current 40 and needed to come up with a fast strategy for connecting with the additional 20. I chose to throw a team-wide after-work event so that everyone had the opportunity to get to know each other and make meaningful connections."
"We recently got a new CEO that has many credible years experience in global marketing which brings great value to bring to our team. The leadership style they practice is much different than the former CEO, so our team had to adapt quickly to manage our projects seamlessly through this change. Change is good. it is important to adapt quickly, or you risk falling behind."
"On many occasions, I've had to adapt to a new manager with vastly different management styles and skills than the previous one. As an assistant manager, or team lead, I've been on the proverbial welcome-committee, so I not only have to adapt and welcome them with open arms but provide them with the tools that they need to succeed."
"When our sales team got a new VP of sales it was a huge culture and organizational shock to everyone on the team. It was tough at first because she was new and not as knowledgeable as whom we had been working with before, so it felt like a bad personnel hire. However, once we all got to know each other and learned about her past successes in a hugely successful SaaS business, my team and I came to appreciate her insight and different perspective."
"The founding member of the elementary Spanish program ran it for 20 years, so when she left, it was a big change for us all. The subsequent chair was a high school French teacher, so it was a total 180. It took a period of adjustment and a summer full of meetings, but we came to respect and understand each other. Ultimately, the change was beneficial. By having a high school teacher as our chair, we were able to communicate more seamlessly with the older grade levels, thereby ensuring that the entire World Language Department connected in its goals, targets, and even execution."
The interviewer wants to know how you interact with people who may have challenging personalities. Think about that one person at work who is seen as hard to please. Perhaps there is someone at work who tries to intimidate others. Show the interviewer that you work well with most personalities even though you recognize there are some folks out there who are quite difficult to please. Avoid speaking poorly of anyone and be sure to end your response on a positive note.
"I once worked at a locally owned shop where the owner was very demanding. When he would walk into the store, employees would announce over their headset system that the owner was in the building, so that everyone could prepare for his entrance into their department. I believe he had great intentions; however, his people skills were a little rough. I could see that he meant well, and I recognized that he wanted to do a lot of good things. When we interacted, I always took his feedback with the understanding that he didn't mean things as harshly as he might say to them."
"I once worked for an executive who was very difficult in meetings and with interacting with groups of others. I took it upon myself to help this person interact better with others. When she would bark orders, I would reiterate what she was trying to say to the group more professionally. It took some time, but she learned to behave in a way that made people want to work with her."
"I have worked most of my career in the logistics industry which attracts a large variety of personalities. I am a warm person by nature and have found it challenging to connect with those who are cold and 'matter of fact.' My former boss was this way, so I adapted by sticking solely to the facts when in meetings, and presenting data versus opinions. It wasn't the deepest relationship that I've had in my career, but we made it work for us."
"The most difficult person I ever worked with was my boss a few years back. She received a promotion to VP from the position I had been hired to fill and was unwilling to listen to my ideas to change the department. I believe she felt personally offended that I did not think her processes were the most efficient, but it was not personal. I sat with her for a one on one meeting when there were very few people in the building, and we had a nice chat about the positive changes she made to the department and my ideas to continue to grow what she began."
"One of the most difficult people I've worked with was a customer when I was a personal shopper at ABC Department Store. She was notoriously difficult, but I took this on as a challenge. I gave myself incremental goals along the way, small checkpoints gaining even the smallest amount of affection, and made it a fun little game. Ultimately, I did win her over, and she became a great recurring customer of mine."
"I struggled most with the new VP of Sales at my previous company. She was brought on with no experience in our industry and seemed to have little interest in it To win her over; I invited her on a business trip for an out of town client. I wanted her to meet my clients and spend one-on-one time together. We bonded as humans, mothers, and sales executives. She learned a lot about the company and industry, and I learned a lot about what skills she brought from her previous roles."
"I had a coworker at the Spanish department who was very 'old school.' She came from the school of thought that children were to be seen and not heard. I believe that kids are kids and, to be able to learn most effectively, they need to get up and move. That said, we were able to put our philosophical differences aside and collaborate on building better, more effective curriculum for our students. Our execution may have been different, but we did agree on the fundamentals of teaching."
This interview question allows you to demonstrate your ability to be a self-starter. Show the interviewer that you are a motivated individual by telling the interviewer about a specific time that you took the lead on a demanding project. Include details of your project timeline, which you led, or what you had to teach yourself for the project to be successful. Be sure to complete your answer by telling the interview what the outcome was.
"We recently had a major inventory count requested of us by the corporate head office. At the time, our manager was away on holiday. No one quite knew where to start or who should take the lead. I took the initiative to lead my co-workers through the inventory project. I taught myself the tracking software in a short amount of time and created a schedule for the inventory counts, so everyone knew the expectations. We completed the project three days ahead of schedule! It was a great success."
"I was recently tasked with changing our health benefits provider. Completing this project was crucial to our employees and our bottom line. I made a lot of calls and RFQs, and spent a lot of time hearing proposals to make the best choice before enrollment time."
"We recently switched over our entire leadership team. During the process, corporate decided to change our medical benefit plans. I took the initiative to manage the culture during this time by reaching out to all associates individually to gain their feedback on what changes they would like to see. I explained some possible options and gained their feedback for the new leadership team. With the day to day responsibilities of being an HR manager demanded strong time management and initiative. However, I am proud to have led the associates through a seamless benefits transition while gaining strong feedback on leadership changes."
"The first time I was awarded lead marketer on a big client project, comes to mind. I had to lead the initial intake calls, be sure to ask the right questions, and correctly relay the information to my marketing team. If anything went wrong, it fell on my shoulders so, for that reason, I worked double time, and triple checked everything before it went out to our client."
"Last year, corporate was renovating my store to match the new ones across the country. As soon as it came up that they'd need team leads for each department, I asked for the job. I was chosen to spearhead making their vision a reality, give store #21 its unique twist on that vision, and manage a group of 12 in the department. The nine months spent in transition was a blur of to-do lists, meetings, and collaboration. I am very proud of my team and the role I played in creating and executing that vision."
"I was responsible for rolling out an entirely new sales territory from scratch. We had zero name recognition and no clients in that region to point to as references. It was a daunting task. I developed a plan of attack by reading what other high-growth tech startups had successfully done in a B2C model. Next, I identified the notable names in the area that would make us an influencer in the space if we partnered. Finally, I began digging in, calling everyone and anyone who would sit down and talk with me. It took a lot of legwork, overcoming objections, but it ultimately proved effective, and that territory is now one of the top producing markets for the organization."
"While on the curriculum team, I volunteered to lead the entire rewrite of third, fourth, and fifth grade Spanish lessons. We had previously agreed upon targets that we wanted to keep, to stay in line with the goals of the middle and high school teachers, but beyond that, I was responsible for creating the key lessons that all teachers would use and with connecting them to the state standards. This project was a huge undertaking, and I recruited a few fellow teachers to help. I delegated the work, choosing the teacher's workload based on their strengths and favored tasks, and then took on the rest for myself, along with overseeing and compiling all of the collaborative work. While it took the entirety of the summer, when it was finally complete, we had an incredible meeting going over it all, talking about the upcoming year, and everyone was excited. What was even more rewarding was seeing the plans in action, both in my classroom, and hearing about the successes other teachers were having as a result of their own."
The interviewer would like to know more about your learning methods and level of discipline. Thinking back to your education, high-school or post-secondary, how did you ensure that your work was completed thoroughly and on time? - Perhaps you are a visual learner who utilized images to recall information. - Some students prefer to listen to music while studying - Researchers know that some students are kinesthetic learners, better-committing data to memory when they move or use hands-on tools. - Flashcards and charts work well for students who think more logically. - Studying in a group, or a social setting is helpful for some; while, it may hinder others.
"I prefer to learn at an independent pace where there is little pressure from others to absorb important information in a way specific to their learning styles."
"I am very much a visual learner. While completing my business administration diploma, I watched a lot of online tutorials, for instance. This method helped me to commit particular steps to memory. For example, this method of studying helped me a great deal when learning advanced Excel techniques. I was a diligent student."
"As a student was always on the move. If I could listen to an audiobook while running on the treadmill, I could nail the book review the following day. I have a high amount of energy which lends itself well to my energetic management style."
"I am a creative individual and, as such, I have to see my work in action before I can fully execute. Even as a student, I would make up make-shift storyboards in my dorm room. I always put extra effort into y creative school projects. This area is where I stood out, academically. I guess I chose the right career path, didn't I!"
"I am a social person by nature. In school, I created a study group of eight. We would meet at a local coffee shop and study together, bounce ideas off of each other, and have friendly debates on the material. Now, when learning a new job, I will go to a location like a Starbucks, where there are some buzz and energy around me."
"In my current position, I had to memorize over 1,000 SKU's from our product catalog. Because I connect to learning kinetically, I created flashcards for myself. I studied this way in college as well and found it very helpful."
"As a teacher, I tend to encourage a variety of learning methods. I consider myself a dynamic learner, and I know that many of my students are as well. This understanding means that you cannot put them into a box and expect one method of learning to resonate with everyone. For this reason, I create learning stations in my classroom. As a child, this is how I learned the best as well. College was great for this, with a balance of desk work, labs, and practicum."
This question sounds general; however, the interviewer is still looking for a reply that relates to your career, or education. This question is not the time to tell them that leaving your wife was the hardest choice you've ever had to make! Leave that conversation over beers with friends. Use an example such as changing majors in university, quitting a job, leaving the family business, relocating to a new city for better opportunities, or even starting your own business. Be sure to highlight how things have worked out for you since making this challenging decision.
"The most difficult decision that I have had to make was changing my major from accounting to international business. I am so happy that I chose this path because I have built a very lucrative career; however, my family was not supportive of the decision because both of my parents are accountants and they wanted the same for me."
"The biggest decision I have ever made was to quit my last job and move to Denver. I have a lot of friends here, which made a choice a bit easier, but leaving my hometown to explore other opportunities was certainly a major decision in my life. I have zero regrets as I love this city. It's my home for good!"
"I was accepted into two major Universities at my time of application and would say that was a tough choice. I weighed my pros and cons, including location, reputation, my major, past alumni, and more. I am a bit of a nerd, so I made an Excel spreadsheet and pie chart to help me make the decision. Thankfully, I made the right choice in the end!"
"Choosing my major was probably one of the toughest career decisions I have made. I was on the fence between B2B Marketing and Consumer Behavior. As you know, I chose B2B Marketing, for which I am thankful that I did. B2B strategies are changing fast, and I love to learn new ways to position my clients in this incredibly competitive marketplace."
"Last year I chose to stop working for my parents, at their print shop. I wanted a job more fashion oriented, and a bit distanced from family, as you may understand. I helped them to find a replacement before leaving. It was a tough conversation because I wanted to tell them about my dreams without offending them at the same time. This decision has improved our relationship, and I am thrilled that I chose to put myself and career desires first."
"The most difficult decision I have had to make was to let go of the business I started and get back into the regular workforce. The business did well, but my partner and I had differing ideas about where to take the company. He offered to buy me out, and I accepted. I love being in software sales now and never look back on the choice I made, but it was one of the most challenging of my career."
"Initially, I started training to be a High School teacher and decided to switch to an Elementary focus. I knew there were job opportunities for male teachers in Elementary and my focus was to make myself more employable. I am still pleased with the decision that I made."
Workplace personality differences will almost always be present, whether you work with a large team or a small one. The interviewer would like to see that you can make the best of any situation, regardless of personality differences. Give an example of a time that you were a team player, despite a challenging personality clash. If you are newer to your career and do not have a work-related example, you can use one from your university or volunteer experience.
"While obtaining my business degree we were expected to collaborate in groups. These groups were often assigned, and I would find myself working with classmates whom I did not fully understand. I am very organized and had to work on a major project with another student who was disorganized, and simply uninterested. I kept my nose to the grindstone, doing the work expected of me, to the best of my ability. I could not force him to work harder so, instead, I decided that my delivery would shine. And, it did!"
"In my current role, I support the VP of Marketing. When she was on vacation this year, I was expected to spend much of my time assisting the Director of Sales in her absence. This particular individual did not give clear direction or feedback, which I found difficult. I asked for a meeting early on, and let him know that I work best when I am fully aware of the expectations and deadlines. We worked pretty well together after that conversation. I am a supporter of open conversations and nipping communication issues in the bud before they become major concerns."
"Before becoming a manager, the individual who trained me as an assistant manager was not my favorite person with which to collaborate. She was very brief in my training and seemed disengaged. It took many extra hours of my own time to learn my new role more thoroughly and to go through the training manuals the way they should have been. I remained dedicated, despite her lack of enthusiasm, and was awarded her position when she quit, shortly after. I do not believe in allowing other people's enthusiasm on the job to affect my own."
"In marketing, there are many different creative personalities present, often in the same department, or collaborating on the same project. One example that comes to mind was a junior copywriter I had to work with, on a complex project. She was inexperienced but did not ask for help or feedback on anything. When I provided feedback on her work, she became defensive. I thought perhaps it was the way I was delivering the feedback so; I asked her how she prefers the approach when her work needs improvement. She apologized for her behavior, and we came up with a great new way to approach constructive conversations."
"I had a co-worker who was quite rude to customers, which I had a difficult time understanding. When you work in retail, it's important to be communicative and friendly to everyone you come across. I did not say anything until the time came where I had to deal with multiple complains from my client. At that point, I asked my co-worker if there was a way that I could help her to enjoy the day-to-day client interaction just a little bit better."
"Earlier in my career, I worked with someone who would fake their cold call sheet and then become highly upset when he missed his weekly targets and monthly goals set by corporate. This situation was a challenging one because I knew the issue was simply the amount of effort he was putting in. I was not his manager and did not feel that it was my business to coach him. Instead, I minded my own business, maintained my workload, and blew my own goals out of the water!"
"For the most part, I have been able to get along remarkably well with my fellow teachers. Earlier on in my career, I did not get along very well with the teacher to whom I was the assistant. His teaching style was very abrupt, and he moved at too fast a pace for many of our IPP students. When I approached him about the situation, telling him what I had observed, he received it well. We made a plan together on how to make the classroom a more comfortable pace for all of the students."
Let's face it - we have all been in a situation where we find a co-worker, classmate, or even professor a touch intimidating. Show the interviewer that you have the smarts, and maturity, to recognize when this is happening, and the ability to overcome whatever factor is causing those feelings.
"I had a boss a couple of years ago who was very intimidating. I enjoy strong personalities; however, she didn't smile very often and was a bit flat with her emotions, which is sometimes hard to navigate. I don't think she meant to be, so I would remind myself before speaking to her, that she was human just like the rest of us."
"Earlier in my admin career, I had a couple of clients who would be very aggressive on the phone with their requests, and I would sometimes get tripped up on my words when they called. I made myself a telephone script related to those specific instances and memorized it. This script helped me to remain on track with my thoughts when those more intimidating clients would call."
"I have a great method that I teach my crew when they have to make cold calls or have a challenging conversation with an existing client. The trick is to practice, out loud, with someone else. Have that person throw possible objections out and then try to overcome them. Once you've had this conversation a few times in practice, it will be much easier in a real-life situation."
"As a marketing director, I often have to give presentations and pitches to groups of decision makers, who can be quite intimidating. I stand tall and remind myself to be proud of my work no matter what they may say or think. By doing this, I am oozing confidence, and the situation becomes so much easier. Also, I read that science has discovered "mirror neurons" in the brain. These neurons mean that people respond with similar facial expressions and demeanor so, if you are friendly and approachable, others will be as well."
"When someone intimidates me, such as an upset customer who is demanding a refund that I cannot give, I will focus less on how I am feeling and more about how they are feeling. I remind myself that they are possibly having the worst day ever. By empathizing with them, the situation becomes less scary, for sure."
"In my sales training, we learned a great deal about practicing comic visualization in intimidating situations. I have a few clients who are very alpha, and they are quite intimidating. I have used comic visualization such as picturing them as babies or dancing in a funny costume. It's silly, and possibly one of the oldest tricks in the book, but it works!"
"When I find myself face to face with an intimidating person - like an angry parent of a student, for instance, I work hard to validate their feelings. By agreeing with them whenever possible, we are often able to relate better to each other, making the overall situation feel a bit lighter."
Nobody can handle every situation with the utmost grace, at all times. No matter who you are, there is undoubtedly a work-related situation that makes you cringe a bit when you look back. The example that you should use here should not be a weighty one but have enough of an impact to show the interviewer that you can bounce back from a misstep in the workplace. Avoid examples that make you look like you have a temper, or display immaturity.
"I recently had a client come into the office and yell at one of my staff members, embarrassing her. I focused my time calming the client down when I believe that I should have stuck up for my employee first and foremost. Verbally abusive behavior is intolerable, and I wish I would have reacted differently, perhaps asking the client to apologize for their behavior and leave. A valuable staff member is worth much more than a bad client. I later apologized to my staff member for not reacting on her behalf quickly enough."
"I was recently tasked with training a new employee and noticed that he had a negative attitude. I did what I could to overlook the issue, assuming that this person had been well-vetted through the interview process. Shortly after he was onboard, he ended up quitting. I wish that I would have listened to my gut, and told my boss about the concerns that I had. It would have saved the company a lot of time, and money."
"I hired an employee because one of my top performers recommended her for the job. Despite my better judgment, I did not follow my usual interview process. I skipped a few important steps, believing that this particular hire would be a great one. This new hire was not a strong performer, and I ended up terminating her employment shortly after I hired and trained her. I now know to never stray from my hiring process, no matter the referral source."
"Last year, one of my larger clients changed the scope of their project multiple times. It was a highly frustrating process for everyone. We finally agreed to a specific campaign, but it took twice as long as it should have. Immediately after, I implemented a stronger discovery process so that we could better outline our clients' needs and assess their commitment to the process before getting started."
"Recently, there was a shopper in my store who was acting suspiciously. I told security about my concern but, because there is so much store to be covered, they were not able to be as attentive to the situation as I would have liked. This person ended up stealing a few items of merchandise. If I could revisit that situation, I would have personally approached the person and ask to help them find what they needed - letting them know we were paying attention. I should have been more visible in that situation."
"A couple of weeks ago I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with a new product that our company rolled out. I spent so much time learning the features and benefits that I allowed my cold calling to slide. Rather than cold call the typical 100 companies that week, I called about 25. The effect was apparent on my numbers this week. I realize that I need to keep the call volume going, despite added responsibilities."
"I noticed a star student behaving out of character a few months back. I was rushed with marking papers, and preparing for finals, and did not give this student the attention that I should have. I found out shortly after that this person was going through a very tough time at home. If I could have done anything differently, I would have approached him and asked him if he needed to talk, and perhaps directed him to the guidance counselor at the school. I have recently vowed to be much more attentive, even during my peak stress times."
First impressions are everything, and there are many ways to make a significant impact on a new client. You can start by being attentive, researching them or their company before your initial meeting, and having a go-getter attitude. Show the interviewer your engagement level with clients and that you know how to make a lasting impression.
"My favorite way to make a lasting impression on a new client is to know their name and a little bit about them before our first meeting. When it shows that I prepared for our initial meeting, it tells the client that I care about our working relationship."
"I am on the phone quite often so one of the ways I show new clients that I am interested in them is to repeat their words back to them to show my understanding. I also think it makes a huge difference when I am prepared with strong product knowledge and answer the phone with a smile."
"Our new clients always receive a personal call from me where I let them know that we appreciate their business. I ask a few targeted questions so that I can better understand how we can exceed their expectations. From there, I take the information to my team. We most often blow our customers' expectations out of the water."
"New clients need to feel like they can trust you instantly, and, in my opinion, the best way to do that is to get to know them and show them that you care. I am a fantastic listener and will always deliver on a project early. This level of service is rare these days, and my new clients always comment on how refreshing my approach is."
"Most retail outlets are known for having low-performing employees, and I always aim to stand out from that stereotype. I like to get to know my customer, what they need, and ask if I can make further suggestions. Most of the time, my customers love the added input and help. This approach also makes my days more fun because I am making genuine connections with people versus treating them like just another customer."
"Sales professionals often get a bad rap for being untrustworthy. Knowing this, I approach my new clients in a way that will build instant trust. I keep my appointments, I am always 5 minutes early, and I will call them with updates on their orders before they feel the need to reach out to me."
"One thing that sets me apart from other teachers is that I book a one-on-one meeting with the parents of my students at the very start of the school year. We create a learning plan that will work for all, and I also ask questions that position me as the expert and also have the parents fully committed to their child's' learning. The rest of the year is better when communication goals become established from the start."
We all fail at things from time to time. There is no need to be ashamed of defeat. Instead, what the interviewer is looking for is evidence that you can bounce back from perceived failure. Give an example of a time when the outcome was not what you wanted it to be, but you were able to recover. Perhaps you were better off in the end, or you learned a valuable lesson.
"One of the bigger perceived failures that I can think of was not graduating as soon as expected, with my University degree. I encountered a few personal factors that pushed my graduation date back one year. It was a bit embarrassing at the time, but truth be told, I am thankful that I could complete my degree at a comfortable pace. I finished with excellent grades as well."
"My former employer put me through a last-minute advanced Excel course, that I ended up barely passing. We discussed this failure together and realized that I was not yet ready for the advanced level coursework - I was more of an intermediate level user. To fix the situation, I studied online for a few weeks and then re-took the course when I felt more prepared. This approach worked much better, and I finished with a 92% the second time around."
"Last year I made a couple of bad hires. Normally my hiring process is airtight, but it is not perfect. Hiring the wrong person is an expensive and time-consuming mistake, so I was undoubtedly frustrated and discouraged. Rather than lose confidence in my abilities, I engaged the Human Resources department in simplifying our onboarding and training process. We have not lost any employees in the last 18 months which is a fabulous record for our company."
"A few months ago our group had a marketing campaign that completely flopped. Our team took full responsibility for the disaster, and we broke down each component of the project until we knew where we went wrong. I could have done better by further breaking down the goals of the client, and what their target audience truly was. We re-did the campaign and the second time around; it was a major success."
"Earlier in my career, I was not good at graciously receiving feedback. Had I been able to receive feedback without becoming defensive, I believe that I could have grown in my career much faster. Last year, I took a workshop on giving and receiving feedback which helped a great deal. Now, I understand how to have these types of conversations, and how to implement the constructive criticism that I receive."
"I had a misstep in my sales career a couple of years ago. You can see the short stint at Company ABC on my resume. Before joining their organization, I did not ask enough questions regarding their success level and how their current results reflect their future goals. The company was in serious financial trouble, and I was unaware. They went into receivership, and I lost my job. Now, I ask many more questions before joining a new company. My success and the company's success should go hand in hand."
"I have worked a great deal on my time-management skills since missing a major curriculum deadline last year. I am newer to my teaching career and realize that it is all a learning curve; however, I took that missed deadline very hard since I do not like to disappoint anyone or fall short of expectations."
The term 'close supervision' can be code for the dreaded micromanagement word! If the interviewer asks a question similar to this in your interview, you should dig deeper and find out how they interpret close supervision to be. The best way to answer this question is to give an example of a time that you worked closely with a boss, professor, or someone in a position of authority. Then, finish your reply by asking what they mean by close supervision. It is your responsibility to ensure that the workplace culture marries well with your own needs an employee.
"In my current role I work closely with my boss. Our offices are next to each other, and we meet at least once per day to discuss the status of our projects. Could you share with me how your workplace culture is close, and what close supervision means to you?"
"I work at the front desk in my current position which means that I am accessible to my boss, and most of the team, all day long. Everything that I do is within this close-knit environment. Could you further explain to me what 'close supervision' means to you, and what that would look like in this role?"
"My boss is in another city, but we work closely through daily emails or meetings via Google Hangout. I am close with my team but do not hover over them when it is time to get the job done. I believe in offering employees room to work. Do you believe in close supervision here? And, if so - could you further clarify what that looks like in your day to day operations?"
"I can work well under any amount of supervision, so long as communication is clear and expectations are well-set. I am always able to speak for my work because I am confident in the quality that I deliver. What does close supervision look like here at your company?"
"I believe in boundaries in the workplace, so I certainly do not want, or need, someone checking in with me every 5 minutes. With that said, I am a fantastic employee so you will not feel the need to supervise my every move. When you speak of close supervision, are you referring to micromanaging or are you speaking of close working relationships?"
"Close supervision is a requirement at times, depending on the project stage and other factors. I do not mind close supervision as long as it's an effective working method. There should be some flexibility in sales; however. Can you share with me how you define close supervision, within your organization?"
"As a teacher, I am not accustomed to overly close supervision by the principal, for instance, but I am accustomed to working closely with the parents of my students. I like it when parents are highly involved in their kids' education; however, nobody enjoys micromanagement. Can you please explain to me what you mean when you speak of close supervision?"
Little supervision often comes after some time, when trust is well established between yourself and your employer. The interviewer would like to know if you have worked in an environment that offers little amounts of supervision. Primarily, they are looking for proof that you can be productive even when nobody is watching or supervising you. Be sure to ask the interviewer about the level of supervision in this particular role. You want to make sure it's a good fit for you.
"I am a reliable employee who works hard, no matter who is watching. You can rest assured that I deliver great work at all times. Would you say that this role is loosely, or more closely, supervised?"
"In my current role, I work under little supervision. I have been with my current employer for five years, and we have developed much trust. I certainly would not expect all the flexibility in the world right away. Would you mind elaborating on the workplace culture, namely the supervision levels, in this role?"
"I am accustomed to very little supervision as a manager. Also, I offer a good amount of supervision for my team, but I also give them the flexibility to do what they do best, without unnecessary interference. Do you believe in close supervision or do you prefer a more hands-off approach with your employees?"
"I enjoy close supervision on particular areas of a project, and then I need room to work during other more independent project stages. I believe that a talented marketing director knows when to step in, and when to give room to work. Would you agree?"
"In retail, there is a lot of close supervision especially when I work the same floor shifts as my manager. With that said, I am a hard worker and would have no issues when it comes to working more independently. I will deliver more than my base expectations, regardless of the supervision level. How would you describe the level of supervision in this role?"
"The sales roles that I have worked have always offered a great deal of autonomy. I prefer working in an environment that offers an environment where I can freely deploy my methods to close sales and exceed my targets. I do understand that it takes some time to establish that level of trust; however. Would you say that this company offers a great deal of flexibility when it comes to supervision levels?"
"As a teacher, most of what I do is in an unsupervised environment. This fact is not to suggest that I have free reign in everything that I do. Low day-to-day supervision is simply the typical classroom environment. I am a responsible and independent person who can succeed in any role, regardless of high or low supervision levels."
The interviewer would like to know how you respond to failure in the workplace. There will always be a time when you are not happy with your work environment, but your reaction is what will determine whether or not you recover from the disappointment. Show that you have the maturity to be able to respond to dissatisfaction productively.
"I am rarely dissatisfied with my work because I keep very high standards for myself, and what I deliver. With that said, should I be dissatisfied with the quality of my work I would own up to it and try again until I was proud of the work I delivered."
"The last time I was dissatisfied with my work I asked my boss if there was time for me to re-do the components with which I was not happy. The deadline was tight, but I did not believe that should affect the quality of what I delivered. She agreed, and gave me the time to revisit the aspects that I felt were not up to my usual standard."
"When I am dissatisfied with my work, I will not submit it. There is no room in my line of work to hand in work that is not up to standard. I would not say that I am a perfectionist; however, I know what I am capable of achieving, and as a manager - I have to set a great example at all times."
"In marketing, there is often room to play around with our work and bounce back from mistakes. I allow myself to make mistakes, tweak my work, and play around with different designs, for instance. A creative mind is always seeking improvements."
"I like to make a great first impression so I will rarely be disappointed in the work that I deliver. If I do not deliver to my standard or encounter an unforeseen issue that railroads me, I am quick to assess what I could have done differently and recovered from there."
"If I am dissatisfied with the quality of my work, I work harder! I believe that the only thing standing between failure, and greatness, is me. I always put in 100% in everything that I do."
"I expect a lot from my students, and they expect a lot from me in return. I fully believe in being accountable for my work. So, for that reason, if I am dissatisfied with the work that I produce I will go back to it and re-do until I am proud of the final product."
There isn't necessarily a wrong answer to this question; however, the interviewer would like to see that you are not a sore loser. Speak a bit about your competitive side and show that you offer a great mix of the two options.
"Everyone loves to win, but I fully believe that we learn a lot from losing as well. I am not a sore loser; however, I will do what it takes to ensure that I win as often as possible."
"I think that of the two, 'I hate to lose' is more descriptive of me. I am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to the work that I deliver which means that I dislike disappointing my boss, and myself. With that said, I know there is always something to learn from losing."
"Oh, I love to win! Moreso, I like to help my team members to succeed. Winning and coaching a winning team is a huge part of what drives me. Losing is inevitable at times. When I am not winning, it's essential that I learn from the experience, and implement changes from it, rather than dwell on it."
"I believe that everyone loves to win, but the most important part is how you react when you win, and when you lose. When I win, I look at what I did right and then implement that strategy more often. When I lose, I analyze where I went wrong and then pivot my approach as needed."
"I love to win more than I hate to lose. What I mean by this is that I don't hate losing. There is always something to learn from a loss, right? I am a gracious winner, at the same time, and understand there are learning opportunities in every situation - win or lose."
"As a salesperson, the love to win is what drives me. It's a natural inclination to want to win, but I do also learn a great deal from losing. When I lose, I will take the lesson and implement changes immediately."
"When teaching impressionable students, it's important that I show a gracious attitude - win or lose. I do not enjoy losing, but I am great when it comes to seeing the lesson in every loss."