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Answering Behavioral Questions

Ace 1000s of Interview Q&As

Tell me about a time when you undertook a project that demanded a lot of initiative.

This interview question allows you to demonstrate your ability to be a self-starter. Show the interviewer that you are a motivated individual by discussing a specific time that you took the lead on a demanding project. Try to include details of your project timeline, which portion of the project you led, or what you had to teach yourself for the project to be successful.

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.

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Answer Example

"(Situation) A few months ago, my team was asked to perform a major inventory count, as requested by our corporate head office. (Task) At the time, our manager was away on temporary sick leave. No one quite knew where to start or who should take the lead. (Action) 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. (Result) We completed the project three days ahead of schedule! It was a great success."

Admin

"(Situation) With recent changes to healthcare, my employer knew it was time to revisit our employee health benefit provisions. Making an educated decision was crucial to the employees and the company's bottom line. (Task) As the senior administrator, I was tasked with performing the research on alternate health benefits providers. (Action) I made dozens of calls and sent in numerous RFQs. I spent a lot of time crafting charts and flows to make sense of the information for the short and the long term. (Result) When it came time to present my findings to company leaders, they were very impressed with the amount of data I was able to collect. In turn, they were able to make the best choice before enrollment time."

Manager

"(Situation) My current company recently switched over our entire leadership team. During the process, the corporate head office decided to change our medical benefit plans. (Task) As the HR Manager, I knew it was up to me to protect the company culture at that time. (Action) I reached 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. (Result) This initiative was a demanding one; however, I am proud to have led my associates through a seamless benefits transition."

Marketing

"(Situation) One situation that comes to mind was the first time I was named Lead Marketer on a big client project. (Task) As the Lead Marketer, I had to guide 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. (Action) So, for that reason, I worked double time, and triple checked everything before it went out to our client. I put in around 40 overtime hours working into the evenings and weekends. (Result) In the end, our client was thrilled with the outcome, and I received the opportunity to be the lead marketer on another opportunity with that client just a couple of months later."

Retail

"(Situation) Last year, Company X corporate head office was renovating my older store to match their new stores popping up across the country. (Task) As soon as it came up that they'd need team leads for each department, I asked for the job. Luckily, they chose me! (Action) The nine months spent in transition was a blur of to-do lists, meetings, and cross-collaboration with head office, contractors, and more. (Result) I was very proud of the final product, and I am happy that I was able to play a part in creating and executing that vision."

Sales

"(Situation) While working for Company ABC, I was responsible for rolling out an entirely new sales territory from scratch. (Task) We had zero name recognition and no clients in that region to point to as references. As the Territory Manager, it was a daunting task. (Action) 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. (Result) It took a lot of legwork and overcoming objections, but my approach ultimately proved effective, and that territory is now one of the top producing markets for the organization."

Teacher

"(Situation) While on the curriculum team, I volunteered to lead the entire rewrite of third, fourth, and fifth grade Spanish lessons. (Task) 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. Beyond that, I was responsible for creating the key lessons that all teachers would use while connecting them to the state standards. (Action) 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. (Result) 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 within my classroom, and hearing about the successes other teachers were having as a result."

Reading Teacher

"Yes, I have been overloaded with work before. When I first began my teaching career I did take on too much. I wasn't as experienced as I am now when it comes to time management. I worked many late nights and weekends. I do feel that it is par for the course in this line of work when you are starting out. Now, I seldom feel overloaded or overwhelmed since I have more experience."

Ultrasound Technician

"If I feel overloaded at work I talk with my co-workers to see if they can help me out. I've developed a great working relationship with them so we never feel that we are putting each other out."

Zookeeper

"Last month my relief zookeeper fell very ill and she went on short term disability. This increased my workload significantly even though my employer tried their best to have others fill in. I handled it all in stride, knowing that this wasn't a permanent situation. I did take breaks to avoid over-exhaustion and was able to get all of the required work done. My supervisor was very thankful and gave me a small bonus at the end of the month to show her appreciation."

Administrative Officer

"I am a naturally organized individual. Without proper organization, a workload can get out of hand quite quickly. I was recently involved with a project that required 30 hours of my time in two weeks while I was also in the middle of several other projects. I was able to stay on track with visual reminders, mid-day check-ins, and robust support processes in place. I ended up working some overtime, but that is par for the course in administration!"

Writer

"Just last year I paid for the Oren Klaff pitch mastery program called Pitch Anything. The program was worth every penny because what I learned dramatically increased my ability to write compelling sales copy and pitches. The basics of that course taught me how to set the frame, tell the story, reveal the intrigue, offer the prize, nail the hook point, and get the deal."

Sous Chef

"I have been overloaded with work a few times in my career but that doesn't happen too often. When I am overloaded with work, I take time to ensure that I am delegating more junior tasks where I can. Usually that helps with the feeling of being overloaded."

Engineer

"Recently I was responsible for keeping a manufacturing line up and running and also for installing capital projects. It was often difficult to find time to work on the capital projects while still putting out the daily fires on the line. I learned that when I'm overloaded with work, I can work overtime for a while to get the situation under control, and then see if I can improve the processes I'm responsible for in order to help reduce my future workload."

Warehouse Clerk

"Not too long ago, I was reading an article on voice-enabled technology and how some logistics companies were significantly reducing costs with this tech. Some of the improved areas included shipping, returns, inventory control, and increased employee productivity. I approached my supervisor on this, and he agreed to do some research to help me come up with a presentation to our head office next month."

Underwriter

"Working as an underwriter means that there will be times when there might be a lot of work on your hands. But if you are good at your job and keep things organized and plan well in advance then you can avoid situations where things might go out of your hands because of the overload.
Being a part of the industry even I have been overloaded with work once or twice. This happened when I had just joined and was a trainee working under a senior underwriter. I used to work on small assignments and for some reason used to spend more than required time on each assignment just trying to be extra careful with everything I did. As a result I was overloaded with work in no time. At first I got panicked but then I got hold of myself in some time and decided to sort it all out. I arranged all the cases according to the level of importance, the deadlines and also on the kind of cases they referred to and then started working on them. I did have to put in a few extra hours of work to sort this all out but eventually I was able to finish it all. I did miss a deadline or two but was excused as I was still a beginner.
It was on that day that I learnt that in order to avoid such situations planning is the best tool. Since then I devote the first 15 minutes of my work day in organizing my day and arranging my tasks based on the priority. My supervisors always praise me for I never miss on deadlines."

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