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Answering Behavioral Questions

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Rachelle Enns
Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter who helps everyone from students to fortune 500 executives find success in their career.
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Tell me about a time when you had to work with someone who was difficult to get along with.
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Example #1
"(Situation) Last month, I had to collaborate with another project manager with a different working style. (Task) As an experienced PM who comes from the tech industry, I find timely client follow up to be mission-critical. This particular PM had a much more relaxed approach. (Action) Before the project launched, I asked to meet one-on-one. We discussed our strengths and created a basic outline of expectations and timelines. (Result) By taking this communicative approach right away, we were able to collaborate quite well and ensured a fantastic project outcome. In the end, I truly enjoyed working alongside this PM."
Example #2
"(Situation) About one year ago, I had an administrative team member who was constantly late to meetings and missed deadlines. (Task) This person was newer to their career, and, as the administrative department lead, it was important to me that they succeeded. (Action) I approached this person privately to understand what was going on, and what was preventing them from working well with the team. When they shared their struggles with me, I offered the proper support and resources. (Result) By taking the time to nurture the situation, rather than simply terminate the person, I was able to mentor and grow one of the best Administrative Assistants I have ever had."
Example #3
"(Situation) Many of my team members can be a touch rough around the edges. I recently had a forklift driver flip me the bird after a daily huddle. (Task) As an experienced Logistics Manager, I have worked with a variety of people who challenge me, and I do not shy away from potential conflict. (Action) I called this person into my office immediately and reminded them of our code of conduct. I wrote them up with a warning, which they needed to sign in acknowledgment. (Result) So far, this driver has been in check, and I continue to monitor their behavior closely."
Example #4
"(Situation) Years ago, I had a team member who would scoff at other coworkers' ideas in meetings and loudly proclaimed that he was the smartest person in our office. (Task) As the Marketing Manager, I knew this behavior would not fly. (Action) I approached him in tandem with our Human Resources Partner to talk about the culture he was cultivating. We wanted to create a resolution with him. (Result) It turned out that he did not want to work in our division as he felt the projects were too 'junior' for his experience. He ended up requesting and receiving a transfer. By initiating an open conversation with this person, we were able to uncover his need. We also the needs of our team by protecting the workplace culture."
Example #5
"(Situation) Recently, our head office launched a sales competition between all store locations. (Task) This sales competition meant working alongside other associates to reach this goal. However, as a highly commissioned retail professional, these associates were typically my competition. (Action) I pushed those competitive thoughts to the side and jumped into action. I called a group meeting to outline goals and targets, and to gain total buy-in from all sales associates. I distributed specific goals to each associate, as per their hours and previous sales results. (Result) In the end, our store won first place out of fifteen locations. It felt great to win!"
Example #6
"(Situation) I often have to collaborate with a sales manager who approaches problems, and people, very different than I do. She is more comfortable taking an indirect, apologetic route, whereas I prefer to tackle things head-on and with enthusiasm. (Task) Our sales were slipping, and it was important for our department that we worked well together. (Action) I suggested a one-on-one meeting where we mapped out our vision for the department in the short and long term. We crafted a plan to leverage each of our strengths and build on the other's ideas. (Result) Not only has our sales department become stronger and more successful, but I have learned some great communication techniques from her."
Example #7
"(Situation) I have conflicting teaching styles from one of the primary substitute teachers on my list. She likes the students to be quiet, and I like my students to be up and moving whenever possible and appropriate. (Task) I know my teaching style drives her nuts, and she's gone so far as to give my students conflicting information. As the full-time teacher, I knew that I needed to nip the situation in the bud. (Action) I was sure to be respectful of her feelings; however, I gently reminded her that I was leading my classroom in a way that my students respond to best. I asked her to honor the classroom culture I have created and gently reminded her that I could source a different substitute teacher. I was firm but respectful, and I stood up for myself. (Result) Months later, we seem to be working more harmoniously together."
Example #8
"In a previous position, I had a team member who was constantly late for their shift and my team meetings. They were a critical part of my team, so I approached them privately to understand what was going on that was preventing them from working well with the team. As her manager, I need to offer her the support she needed to become a reliable team member again. We created an action plan which she stuck to quite well after our initial conversation."
Example #9
"Last month I had to collaborate on a project with a corporate project manager who works very differently than I do. I find timely follow up to be incredibly important and this particular PM seemed to be more relaxed with that aspect. I continued to work how I always do but did ask this PM a couple of times to communicate more frequently with me in order to make the collaboration smoother. I fully understand that not everyone will work in perfect synergy and that is okay. It's what makes everyone unique. There is always a professional workaround available - sometimes you just have to approach the situation head-on but in a respectful way."
Example #10
"In a former job, I worked on a team that had challenges with communication. We didn't have standards for how information was distributed, when, and to whom, and email correspondence often got lost. This would result in missed deadlines and last-minute rushes. I believe that communication is critical to successfully operating a team and executing projects that involve multiple people, so I would tailor my communication based on each individual and level of priority. For example, if I knew that a colleague was not responsive via email, then I would pop over to their desk for quick check-ins or set up a meeting to discuss in person. I would follow-up with an email outlining what we discussed to have documentation of the process for future reference. For projects involving multiple people, I would set up Microsoft Planner tasks and set automated reminders at deadlines. By automating our communication and tailoring one-on-one methods, we were able to increase our on-time efficiency."
Example #11
"As a language interpreter, I have worked with all types of people - simple and difficult alike. The personality types that I find most difficult to work with would probably be they type that are not engaged listeners. It takes a lot of concentration to do what we do and if someone is not respecting my time, that can become frustrating. Luckily, I have not experienced this much. Overall, my clients have been quite incredible and easy to work with."
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