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Behavioral Interview
Questions

| Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.

Question 1 of 30

Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision without all the information you needed.

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Behavioral Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision without all the information you needed.

      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.

      Behavioral-based interview questions that begin with 'Tell me about a time...' are best answered using the STAR method. STAR is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, Result. Organizing your response using this framework will ensure that you provide the interviewer with the right amount of information and detail to form a compelling answer.

      The interviewer would like to see that you can use logic to make a sound decision. Show that you are capable and confident when it comes to independent thinking and decision making.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "(Situation) In my current role, I am responsible for creating the weekly schedule for 56 staff members. (Task) When I first took on the responsibility of scheduling, I did not have any data regarding our busiest times of the week and day. (Action) I worked hard 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. (Result) This scheduling approach worked out quite well for me. Now I fully understand our customer traffic flow, which has made staff scheduling a breeze."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Admin interview

      "(Situation) In my position, ambiguity is a large part of my daily reality. (Task) As an Executive Assistant, I often find myself making decisions wishing I had just a little bit more data. (Action) Just last week, the executive who I support sent me a rough outline of her preferred travel itinerary. I knew that some of her requests would work, and some would not align with pre-booked meetings. In this case, I looked at everything I had scheduled for her up to that point, created what-if scenarios for several variables, and selected the best possible option. (Result) I always do my best for this executive, and she appreciates my hard work and critical thinking."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Manager interview

      "(Situation) Before my company had an HR department, I had to lead all of the hiring efforts. (Task) I was often missing information critical to job offers, such as details on the company's health benefits plan. As a new manager, I was afraid of looking green and unorganized. (Action) I connected with our benefits account rep, and they agreed to come to my office and walk me through the details of our benefits package. (Result) After this meeting, I had a clearer understanding and was able to answer most candidate questions with ease."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Marketing interview

      "(Situation) Often, our agency's clients are vague about their needs or the vision for their project. (Task) As a Creative Director, I know this vague approach occurs because they don't fully know themselves what they seek. I have had to fill in the blanks many times. (Action) To do this, I bring forward a few tools such as questionnaires, brand sprints, and discovery sessions. (Result) By using these tools, I can get to know my clients well. Also, it helps me to be more comfortable in making executive decisions on projects."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Retail interview

      "(Situation) Often when a customer dispute arises, I am missing pieces of the story. One particular example that comes to mind occurred just last week when a customer stormed in and demanded a refund. (Task) As the Retail Manager, whether I had the full story or not, I was instantly pulled into making a customer service decision. (Action) I quickly assessed what category the problem seemed to fall in, whether that was a service, product, or pricing issue. Once I determined that it was a product issue, I knew I would go ahead and offer a product replacement. (Result) All in all, this customer dispute lasted under five minutes, and I was able to avoid any other potential damage to our store's reputation."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Sales interview

      "(Situation) I recently had a customer seeking a particular piece of inventory that was hard to source. (Task) As a seasoned Account Rep, I knew my products very well. I also knew that nationwide, there were only two products that met his criteria. (Action) These products were seemingly identical, but I had to choose which one to purchase on his behalf. With a price tag of $5k+, it was a significant decision to make. I leveraged my industry knowledge and my understanding of the customer. (Result) By using context and prior knowledge, as well as a bit of instinct, I made the right choice, and my customer was thrilled."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Teacher interview

      "(Situation) For years, my department didn't have a consistent or reliable way to quantify the effectiveness of our teaching methods. (Task) As a teacher, this presents a challenge when it comes time to tweaking curriculum or even gaining accurate feedback. (Action) Two years ago, I proposed that we set up four tests throughout the year to test cumulative knowledge. My department head agreed, and we have been using these tests ever since. (Result) Now we shape most of our teaching decisions off of actual data, making for much clearer feedback."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Temporary Staffing Recruiter interview

      "As a temporary staffing recruiter, 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."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Executive Recruiter interview

      "As an executive recruiter, ambiguity is a large part of my daily reality. I always do the best with the information I have to keep projects 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."

      Christine's Answer
       for a Training Specialist interview

      "I make small decisions quickly every day. For example, deciding what outfit to wear, what breakfast cereal I want to eat, or what time I want to leave my house each morning. Other decisions take a few minutes of thought such as putting my to-do list into a logical order for the day. I need to take into account project deadlines and how long the project will take to complete. And, some decisions take a few days, weeks, or months to make. For example, if I am tasked with selecting a new training software, I will need time to review demos, talk to other customers of the product, and analyze our budget before making a decision. It just depends on how large the decision is!"

      Tom's Answer
       for a Software Developer interview

      "In short, debugging is an important part of determining why an operating system, application or program is behaving abnormally. When I do debugging, there are many things that I take into account during this process. For larger lines of code, I conduct unit testing and pair programming which helps me identify bugs at an earlier stage. I also use the stand alone debugger tool to further identify bugs. I've always been conscious of my work, and only want to put out top quality work. To further understand where bugs may reside, I also look at the module to see if the problem avails itself. If not, I set up a 'breakpoint' and run a program to see it run its course. After performing debugging and testing, I do come across errors which I address and correct immediately. Some examples are...Syntax errors, Runtime errors, Logic errors, Semantic errors, etc."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Surgical Technologist interview

      "Last month during a standard procedure we had a very important piece of equipment fail. I asked permission to leave the OR and quickly located another machine. The Doctor was happy that, rather than panicking or trying to make the faulty equipment work, I sprung into action to create an immediate resolution."

      Anonymous Answer

      "We have a big customer that had a critical issue with their alarm system software that we develop where it was not working. I didn't have all the information, but I went ahead and escalated the issue to our development team because of the critical nature of the problem. They found a bug in the software, resolved it pretty quickly, and the customer was satisfied in the end."

      Kristine's Answer

      Excellent response! The interviewer will be glad to know your reasoning behind your decision to escalate the issue.

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      Anonymous Answer

      "In my current role, I am responsible for creating a weekly schedule. I didn't have any data regarding our busiest times of the week so I had to guess and still remain under staffing budget but at the same time avoid understaffing. I used my logic and past experience at other pharmacies to make decisions on staff scheduling."

      Rachelle's Answer

      I reworded this just a touch, to help with the flow. Otherwise, good response.

      "In my current role, I am responsible for creating the weekly schedule. I don't have access to data regarding our busiest times of the week, so I had to figure out the schedule to ensure I remained under the staffing budget, while at the same time having enough coverage. I used my logic and experience at other pharmacies to make decisions on staff scheduling."

      Was this answer helpful? Yes (3) or No (0)
      Anonymous Answer

      "I was asked to give a short presentation on a technical project to some people who had flown in from the company's headquarters. Since everything was planned at the last moment, my manager did not give me details about the audience. Usually, I decide on what to say after assessing my audience based on whether the presentation was technical or non-technical. With that piece of information missing and little time to prepare, I decided to concentrate on the "why" of every step, rather than the "how." Fortunately, it was a success, and the more technically inclined people had their questions answered during the Q & A session."

      Rachelle's Answer

      This example is fantastic! You do a great job explaining the situation and how you would typically approach this task. You adjusted in a very smart manner, and it sounds as though the outcome was very positive. Well done.

      Was this answer helpful? Yes (1) or No (0)
      Anonymous Answer

      "Once, I had a customer who ordered a specialty drug from me every month, challenging me that I was charging him too much. All he said was, "I can get this for $200 cheaper." I handled this by asking him for proof of that price, he could not give it to me and said: "I haven't bought it from them yet, but I will, and I'll show you, and you'll lose the business." I used my industry knowledge and understanding of all the different price points we have on not only this particular drug but all the drugs in that family. I told him I had to hold at my price, and he ended up buying it from me anyway. He was trying me to get to lower my cost."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Wow, this sounds like a difficult client to please, but you did it! This was a very smart approach that any company should appreciate.

      Was this answer helpful? Yes (1) or No (0)
      Anonymous Answer

      "Working as a publisher at a news agency, I had the story of a high-ranking cabinet member resigning. There was no official word but our source was solid. We could run a flash and make a big deal out of it or wait to hear from the official sources. I chose to wait. I was congratulated by my superiors for my prudent approach because although the cabinet member did indeed tender their resignation, it was not accepted by the head of government, which could have undermined our story."

      Rachelle's Answer

      It seems that you made an excellent judgment call! You tell this story with ease and confidence. It's great that your superiors were happy with your approach.

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
      Anonymous Answer

      "I was tasked with providing a large customer with a cost-effective project that yielded a 2 year ROI. With the current structure of how we purchase our equipment put the project immediately at 3.5 years. Through navigating and understanding the back end of how our business purchased equipment from our manufacturing facility, I was able to do away with the distributors cost associated with each item purchased. This, in turn, allowed me to focus on the savings for the project from a value-driven perspective to which the customer agreed and signed the proposal."

      Rachelle's Answer

      It sounds as though you took on a lot of initiative to learn what you needed to make the deal happen. Great example!

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      Anonymous Answer

      "In my current role as an assistant agent, I was showing a home to a potential buyer, but I did not have all their home buying criteria. While touring the home, I asked what they were in looking for in their ideal home whether it was good schools, good neighborhoods with sidewalks, and easy freeway access. Once I had these important details, I was able to show several homes in what became their forever neighborhood."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Gaining answers by asking the right questions is a great skill to have as a real estate agent! It sounds like you were able to receive all of the necessary information before moving forward. Do you have another example of a time when you had to make an 'executive decision' without all of the information up front?

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
      Anonymous Answer

      "When customers discuss use cases or feature requests, they are often vague about their needs or the vision for their project. As a PM, I know customers are vague because they don't fully know what they seek. As a result, I have had to fill in the blanks many times. To do this, I use a few tools such as questionnaires or discovery sessions. By using these tools, I can get to know my customers well and become comfortable making executive product decisions."

      Rachelle's Answer

      It's great to see you using the STAR framework! For this 'Tell me about a time...' question, the interviewer wants you to carve out a specific situation when you needed to decide on something without all of the information. As it stands, your answer addresses your work in general. Feel free to revise, and I can return with further feedback :)

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      Anonymous Answer

      "I would often have to create orders for new accounts without knowing what was going to sell in that particular store. I made guesses based on store location, what sold in other stores locally, what our best sellers were, were there schools locally and what my experience told me."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Perfect way to show the interviewer that you are able to look at past data to make educated decisions! I reworded this as the end of your response fell slightly.

      "When working for {company name}, I would often have to create orders for new accounts without knowing what was going to sell in that particular store. I made educated guesses based on store location, what sold in other stores locally, what our best sellers were, and what I have learned from previous experience."

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
      Anonymous Answer

      "In my current role, sometimes we can end up having data that we don't have much information on. I had to guesstimate what the other group wanted with their data and how to analyze it. So, I used my logic and critical thinking skills to fill in the blanks for the data for which I did not have much information. It worked out quite well for me. Now I fully understand their needs."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Your answer is well laid out and highlights a strong ability to collect information to problem solve. Well done.

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