This question is designed to learn how well you work under pressure. When choosing an example to share with the interviewer, avoid choosing a time that you were in danger of missing the deadline because of poor planning on your part such as procrastination. Rather, choose a situation that was out of your control.
1) First, start by giving the interviewer an overview of the situation, explaining how much time you had to complete the assignment and why you were in danger of missing the deadline.
2) Next, tell the interviewer that you realized how urgent the situation was, and instead of getting worked up about it, you came up with a game plan to conquer the assignment by the deadline.
3) Lastly, explain how you made your plan of attack, pulled in additional people to help if necessary, and ensured the assignment was completed by the deadline.
"Last month, our Corporate head office requested a full inventory count at random. We were given just 2 days to complete this count when, usually, these inventory counts were given 3 full days to complete. I was the team lead at the time so I rescheduled us to work longer split shifts to ensure that the timeline was met without overworking anyone. I turned the task into a competition where the first person to complete their inventory section was given two free movie tickets. My plan worked really well! We finished the inventory count in just 39 hours and the team remained motivated."
"My team and I recently were 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. During weekly status updates, we came across two roadblocks that were 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, while still meeting our deadline. It was our transparency in communications and collaborate work environment that helped us meet deadline to deliver the results to the leadership team and organizational wide."
"I was once part of team that had a major set back based on an endurance test. I went to the project 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."
Sales answer example
"In sales, you always have to be on your toes. In logistics, things can change literally at any time. For instance, a truckload of paper was needed to run an order the following morning or the line would be shut down. However, the shipment was still in Chicago due to a dishonest trucking company.
I had to get my teammates on the phone and we all worked together with some trusted partners to have the first company deliver it to a neutral location nearby, and another drive pick it up and drive it straight through overnight so the line wouldn't shut down."
Retail answer example
"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, in order 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 in risk. As it turned out, I was pretty near dead on and we had a really successful summer season based on my recommendations."
Teacher answer example
"One summer during curriculum writing, we were having some conflict about what would be added, cut, or stay. 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."