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Have you ever worked in a situation where the rules and guidelines were not clear? How did you cope?
The point to 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.
Answer examples
"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 everyday protocol. 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 sales person and was quickly promoted to Manager."
"Working in a start up company, there were many situations where rules and guidelines were not clear. I took it upon myself to identify the need. People 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 within today!"
"I worked for a small family-owned operation for a while. Because it had just been the family for so long, most processes were not formally written down or trained. I made it my own project to create "what-if" scenarios, get answers from the bosses, and compile a troubleshooting list for the staff."
Sales answer example
"In startups, rules are hard to come by. You are to sell and hit your metrics, but it's 99% a figure-it-out-yourself situation. This can be an awesome opportunity to pilot out your own 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 own 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!"
Retail answer example
"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 his own. This was not only odd, but also really tricky. To please my boss, I had to follow his rules, but to move up in the company and please corporate, I had to follow theirs. Ultimately, I found a nice middle ground that kept me productive, my boss happy with my sales and productivity, and was presumably pleasing to the store managers and corporate, as I was eventually moved into a different department into a leadership position. All that to say, I'm comfortable in awkward, figure-it-out situations, and can generally figure out a way to succeed and keep all parties happy, no matter what the parameters."
Teacher answer example
"During a transition period when we had no department chair, I guess you could say guidelines were unclear. There was no one necessarily mandating that we hold our meetings, or really do anything. However, a few us knew that it was beneficial to us as teachers, and the department as a whole, to continue on, so we took turns leading the meetings and acting as though each of us were supervisor for the following two weeks, passing the torch to the next teacher as she stepped in. This allowed for us to continue growing and learning, collaborating, and also be ready to seamlessly transition, as much as possible, to the new official team lead."

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User-Submitted Answers

Have you ever worked in a situation where the rules and guidelines were not clear? How did you cope?
Very seldom does this arrise but when it does a new policy is sent out with paychecks for all to sign and then filed.
I already experienced that situation where the rules and the guidelines were not clear.I accidentally did was when I put all my homeworks in a sheet of paper and our teacher told us to pass it online.I was so disappointed on that time because I worked hard for it but I didn't pass it because we need to passed it via online. I just talked to our teacher if I can passed my homework because it's my fault and I mean it.I just want to try if my teacher would get my homework.
Did not love it. Tried to create my own projects, had to train myself on various topics.
Working as a quality control supervisor there was not a benchmark for quality and I was not given proper training so I had learn it on my own or asked the manager which I was unsure about.
I asked the manager what they would like me to do first and asked for a detailed list of instructions.
Every job I worked rules were clear and listed in employee hand book.
It happens at school al the time especially final projects or a lab work. What I do is that I go back and talk to the professor just clarify what he really want me to do. I try not to assume but rather asked mere questions to complete it.
At a country club where I managed the pool. Many groups would come to the pool and expected different treatment. The CEO manager would let me know it was up to my discretion as long as the problems never came across his desk. I just went with the flow on it and really only had two bad situation over a seven year time period.
We often have to place signs up near the products that are on sale for the week at work. Our As seen on tv sale stickers were not specific on which items were apart of the sale. I did not want to place them incorrectly and misinform customers so I inquired with my supervisor to what the specific guidelines were for placing the signs. She was unsure herself and decided that we would hold off on that section for this week.
Yes, I had this kind of situation. I felt bad, without rules and guidelines we are like animals. Everyone do what they want, so this is a disorganized company . I don't like to work in this environment, it is chaotic.
Everyday. Returns are not black and white. Lots of shades of gray. Customer Accomodations.