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.
"(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."
"(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."
"(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."
"(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."
"(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."
"(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."
"(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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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!"
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"My last company recently changed our version control system from Jenkins to Go Cd. During the process, the engineering team changed our meeting plans and project sprint deliveries. As the Lead Manager, I knew it was up to me to protect the team deadlines. I reached out to all engineers individually to gather feedback about which changes they would like to see made. I explained some options and listened to their feedback about the new tool which was Go CD. This initiative was a demanding one; however, I am proud to have led my associates through a seamless transition."
Excellent use of the STAR framework and the Mock Question example answer for organzing your response! The interviewer should find your answer to be concise and clear. If you want to make your answer more robust, I recommend adding more detail to the 'action' portion of your response. You could include details on what the changes were, what your options were, etc.
"My company had set up a mail-order pharmacy service that made it easier for patients to get their medications delivered to their front door with a quick turnaround. The problem was that this pharmacy was several states away, and as we grew and got busier, this stopped making sense logistically. I took the initiative to identify local pharmacies that my customers already had good relationships with that would be willing to carry my product. This greatly benefited our business."
Fantastic approach to a pending problem. Good answer!
"I was responsible for designing a project that would get the customer the newest technology for their entire campus. I used a remote connection to work after hours and export the information I needed to design the project from a technical level of sale. In doing so, it allowed me to come prepared with all material and cost associated with the campus project to which the customer signed, and we executed."
This project sounds like a lot of additional work and initiative! You lay the story out nicely as it's straightforward and easy to understand with a positive result.
"While working on a project at my last company, the team was facing a lot of roadblocks. Since the project occupied a fairly new domain, there was no one in the organization that could guide us. So, I asked my manager if I could consult a professor from the University who had prior experience with the project. After the first meeting, my manager was convinced and she brought the professor on board as an advisor to the project. This greatly helped streamline our project, and we were able to overcome all our initial roadblocks."
Wow - this is the thinking that employers look for when they want true innovation and creativity. Good for you! I like that you are using the STAR framework when forming your response to these behavioral-based questions (Situation, Task, Action, Result). In this example, try providing more detail on the roadblocks you mention at the start. By adding more detail, you create greater 'tension' in your story between the situation and the positive result you generated.
"When I worked on my Green Belt certification, I had to complete online video training and tests besides the project for becoming certified. This took up a lot of personal time and initiative to be able to finish the video modules & tests to get certified as a Green Belt."
Great answer! Your interviewer will understand the certification required a lot of initiative from you. To enhance your response, specify how much personal time this project demanded.
"I had to manage moving our office and warehouse to a new location. This required organizing a team, delegating responsibility, taking on contractors to move stock, fitting our office, installing a new phone system, moving servers and PCs, and ordering and fitting new racking for the warehouse. There was a lot to take on in areas I didn't have experience. We survived the move!"
Awesome! You have some great examples with a lot of variety - the interviewer will appreciate this :)
"I was assigned to work with the overseas team in implementing a new system for our shared files. Completing this project was crucial to our employees. I had weekly web-ex meetings and calls to discuss obsolete files and implementing new guide lines."
This sounds like a significant time commitment. Can you share the result of your dedication and hard work?
"I volunteered to support the full conversion of moving to a new dispatch system by first retiring one of the IBM mainframe dispatch systems. For this conversion effort, I had to create documentation, presentations of scripts and tools for converting the live orders to the new dispatch system, and a backup plan in case of deployment failed."
I encourage you to do a deeper dive into the STAR method for answering behavioral-based interview questions. Then, return to edit your response and I can come back with more feedback :)
"I was tasked with overseeing the implementation of a new EMR system. I was in charge of setting up all the training throughout all the Centers via conference calls for the Doctors, Technicians, and admin's that were going to use the system. One of the initiatives I took was asking about a clinic in our surrounding area that already used the system. I then got in touch with that clinic and set up a time to observe how they had implemented and used the system to help get some insight on how I was going to use it in our particular clinics."
This example is an excellent way to showcase your ability to look outside the box and go to outside sources for help. This was a very clever approach. Well done.
"Drafting key organization policies, presenting the policies to the board and making sure the board understands the importance of the policies and finally implementation of the policies. This demanded a lot of initiative. Constant training of the senior management and monitoring the information waterfall down to cashiers and shop attendants. I believe changing organization culture takes time but I believe drafting the policies, training employees and changing the attitude at the top management contributed positively to the change."
These are all excellent examples of difficult changes and initiatives. Well crafted response.
"I recently took over the entire northeast sales at my current company. It required a lot of initiative because it is a brand new territory, and no rep has been in it before. I needed to be a self-starter as most of my day consists of cold calls. Through my initiative, I had a lot of positive feedback from my managers for my hard work, and our business is growing."
This would be a lot of work and initiative, for sure. It sounds like you are approaching this project with excitement, which is great!
"I started a pre-dental club at my University. This required a considerate amount of initiative, as there was no precedent set before me. In order to succeed in this project, I sought the help of other existing pre-dental clubs, as well as a team of dedicated executive members. By collaborating, we were able to run effective events, such as information sessions on pre-requisite courses to dental school, information sessions on the DAT, a speaker series, and a succulent sale to raise money for dentistry for all."
This example is terrific! It's not easy starting a university club and running it successfully. It sounds as though the club saw great success through your strong research and creative efforts.
"When I was in high school house construction class, I took the lead on the heating and cooling system. I didn’t know much about it but by the end of school, I had learned to install a home heating and cooling system."
Wow - that is quite a feat for a high school student! Very good! If you recall, try to add in details regarding group work and if you had any leadership responsibilities within the group.
"In high school house construction class, I took the lead on the heating and cooling system. I didn’t know much about it, but by the end of school, I had learned to install a home heating and cooling system. I led my group of 6 other students through this project, helping to divide the work and guide others that were having trouble understanding the concepts."
"In my MBA program, we needed to source our own internships. Wanting to work on a startup project, I put a lot of effort connecting with different startups, trying to convince them of the value I could offer. Despite plenty of rejections, I convinced a restaurant startup to hire me as part of a project to improve their referral program. This occurred after several lengthy discussions and an assessment of my work."
Good for you! Try sharing additional details such as, what was your pitch? How did the internship end up? Remember to apply the STAR framework for 'Tell me about a time' questions (Situation, Task, Action, Result). This method will help you to ensure that all the critical points of your answer are being met.
"Situation: There was a time I worked on an LMM project. Our QA team was working on sanity validations and functional testing of the product. But we had a gap in performance testing.
Task: The product consisted of a lot of different components, and we needed to develop a test plan for performance testing, present it to the Product owner and implement the testing.
Action: I decided to take the initiative and work on removing the gap. This was a new experience for me, I knew it would be challenging, but at the same time, it was exciting to work on something different and learn something new.
Result: My initiative helped discover some performance issues between different system components, which allowed the development team to fine-tune the parameters. This improved system performance."
This answer is a fantastic start, and great use of the STAR interview method! When it comes to the action steps that you took - can you be more specific about how you 'removed the gap?'
"During my internship, I was assigned a project to evaluate various pumping systems and their use with either fiberglass or steel rods. I did not know quite where to start because my knowledge of production equipment was really limited. My limited understanding of the topic made even finding the right data really ambiguous. I bought a book to teach myself about the different pumping units which opened doors for me to ask the right questions and also find the right data to use. I learned a new data analysis software as well in that short period of time. In the end, I was able to complete my project and present reasonable information to the company."
Terrific response! It seems you followed the STAR framework closely when forming this behavioral-based question. You do an excellent job walking the interviewer through the situation, your task, the action you took, and the final result. Did you receive any specific feedback from your supervisor?
"I was recently tasked with identifying students who were a "no-show", through our newly setup "X" system. completing this project was crucial to our management for budget planning. I spent a lot of time running related reports, sorting the data, identifying the discrepancies, meeting with different teams to provide a clear report for the management."
Good answer. Be sure to speak about your successes in the end!
"I was recently tasked with identifying students who were a "no-show," through a new system called SEATs. The completion of this project was crucial for our management team for budget planning purposes. I spent a lot of time running reports, sorting data, identifying discrepancies, and meeting with different teams to provide a clear report for the management team. In the end, the project unrolled seamlessly, and I am now the go-to person for questions and needs related to the project."
"Our hotel needed more Business Travel guest rooms. I took a satellite aerial photo of the hotel and the surrounding area within a 2-mile radius and enlarged it on several posterboards. I then methodically went building-by-building, marking those companies in each building. I then formed a marketing campaign for different types of businesses. To this day, our hotel still reaps the benefits of that project."
Wonderful response! This answer shows excellent initiative and a willingness to go above expectations while thinking creatively.
"I was responsible for creating a go-to-market strategy for chains and franchises. We had a few test cases and were able to leverage those connections to further build our value proposition for larger organizations.
In this rollout, I did a huge amount of research by talking with existing chains. I also was able to identify a pattern with the franchises. They all knew each other, and that relationship could also be used.
Ultimately we rolled out our new sales funnel for this market and had great success."
It's nice to hear that you had great success after so much research and hard work. It would be good to speak a bit of your team as well, giving the interviewer a full view of the size of the project.
"When the Florida governor passed a new law to address opioid abuse, new requirements applied to our daily process for dispensing schedule II controlled substances. Some of the changes that related to pharmacy were that the opioid prescription must include new phrases related to the type of pain the prescriber is being treated for in order for the prescription to be deemed valid. For example, the prescriber has to indicate in the prescription “ACUTE PAIN EXCEPTION” if the patient is getting treated for chronic pain or “NON ACUTE PAIN” if the patient needs to be treated for more than 3 or up to 7 days for pain due to an acute medical condition. In addition, the new law requires the use of Florida’s prescription drug monitoring program, EFORCSE for all c2 prescriptions. Checking EFORCE for all c2 prescriptions was not an issue for me, since as in my usual dispensing process, I check EFORCE for all controls regardless of the schedule they are in including new prescriptions and refills. What was challenging was that my staff and I had no control over whether the doctors would follow the new law and add the newly required phrases when needed. If a prescription for a c2 opioid does not include those phrases and the dose exceeds a 3 day supply, it does not meet the requirements for a valid prescription, and the pharmacist should contact the prescribing practitioner to verify the prescriber’s prescription and add the proper phrase by reducing it to writing and properly annotating the prescription. The effective date for the new law was on July 1st and my pharmacy manager was out for 6 weeks at the time. Most patients with pain showed up on July 1st and presented prescriptions with those missing phrases. For a busy retail pharmacy like the one I worked at, this new change caused a lot of frustration to our patients and staff.
I quickly realized that I needed to take charge of the situation and implement new practices to our daily workflow to ensure that this change wouldn't impact our productivity level. More importantly, I wanted to prevent it from compromising the safety and the satisfaction of our patients. I first reviewed our current process and workflow, and I was able to identify pitfalls that the team could improve on to ensure a smooth process moving forward. In the past, my pharmacy technicians would bring me all c2 prescriptions upon receiving them, and I ensured that the prescription was valid and that it had all the required information. I would check EFORCE to review the patient's history. Also, most prescribers were familiar with and experienced in including all the requirements on c2 prescriptions, so when there was information missing, I would inform the patient and would just take the first step to call and initiate communication with the doctor’s office to correct the situation. With the increased volume created by this issue, I explained to my technicians that we needed to make some changes at the drop-off step to ensure efficient communication with our patients while abiding by this new law. I asked them to calculate the daily supply upon receiving an opioid c2 prescription and if it were above a 3 day supply and didn't include the phrases needed, then the team must immediately inform the patient that the prescription is missing a required detail we would need to contact the prescriber first before filling the prescription.
That change eliminated a lot of wasted time and energy for the pharmacist, the technicians, and the patient. Since the patients were made aware of the situation from the beginning, it reduced the frustration associated with the problem. I also involved the technicians in initiating a call to the doctor's offices for the prescriptions that were not time-sensitive, and I took over the conversation once the right person from the doctor's office was on the phone. This step also expedited the wait time for both waiting and non-waiting patients. By the time my pharmacy manager was back at the pharmacy, we had a good system figured out for the new changes, and I was also happy that the technicians in our pharmacy got to learn new skills."
This example is a great choice for this question, as well. It's well structured and full of helpful detail.
"The previous company I worked for introduced new software to help with data monitoring. Quite a few colleagues found this a bit of a challenge. I decided to master the software; I enrolled in an online course for four weeks and studied during the evenings.
As a result, my confidence grew, and my manager was impressed that I had used my initiative to boost my confidence."
This is an incredible example of taking the initiative and for such an extended amount of time. It's great that your manager gave you kudos for your excellent work as well.
"I recall a time when we lost the majority of our management staff, and we had a manager out on maternity. My manager knew that I had previous experience asked me if I could be a manager on duty in the evenings while running my departments. I told him absolutely. I successfully ran my departments and ensured that the store was fully covered until it was fully staffed again."
Good for you to jump in without hesitation and make it work! What do you believe contributed to your success as a manager during that time?
"As part of a fleet-wide readiness inspection during a ramp-up for deployment, I was charged with ensuring our department's tool program was in compliance with strict Navy standards. I immediately contacted and developed a strong working relationship with the quality assurance department and spent a week updating our tool publications to be certain of the exact specifications required for my program. I spent the next several weeks working 12-hour shifts revamping the program, coordinating with other departments to acquire needed materials, building new toolboxes from scratch, repairing other storage equipment so it was up to standards, and re-etching every individual tool with the appropriate nomenclature. As a result, I was able to correct numerous errors and my department received a letter of commendation from our Commanding Officer."
This sounds like a wonderful accomplishment and a lot of work! *Good edits surrounding the timeline details and corrections you made.
"I was in charge of the rural outpatient program, and it needed a lot of inattention and dealing with state authorities to start the program. After completing my bachelor's, I had to dive in, and I had to sacrifice my holidays with emails and phone conversations with local authorities. I spent the first few weeks with the state to finalize the program and later plan out the doctors in charge and plan the location and how much demo graph we need to cover within one year. This hard work was successful in treating over 98% of flu cases and was treated to state an example."
Excellent answer! You give the interviewer a thorough overview with the important information. Awesome result, as well.
"In my previous role as a Senior Accountant, I was the contact person with the financial institution we banked with. A year into my role in the company, I’ve noticed deteriorating levels of service and high bank fees from our central bank. Therefore, I reached out to my manager and asked for permission to look into other banks and compare services/prices. I met with two different banks, learned about the services they offered, and convinced my manager to open new payroll accounts with a competitor. This new bank processed our payroll payments promptly, charged fewer fees, and provided a better customer experience."
Wow, this is an incredible amount of initiative and steps that your employer must have greatly appreciated. Especially so early into your role!
"I recently moved to a manager position; during the process, our recruiting efforts dropped considerably since I was the only recruiter. I took the initiative and fed my matrix out to my teammates to fill open roles. I explained that we are a team, and this is how we do it. The move was seamless, and our numbers remained steady."
Be sure to give more detail about how you approached your team regarding a change in responsibilities. The answer currently hovers around sounding bossy vs. being a leader. I have provided an example below.
"I recently moved to a management position. I was the only recruiter, and as a result, our recruiting efforts dropped considerably. I took the initiative and fed my matrix out to my teammates to fill open roles. I trained them on best practices in talent attraction and was able to get them excited to work as a team and boost recruitment efforts. The move was seamless, and our numbers remained steady."
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