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Answering Behavioral Questions

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Tell me about a time when you were unable to meet a project deadline. How did you react?

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Example #1
"(Situation) Last month, I missed a project deadline for an important client. (Task) I missed this deadline because I underestimated the need for support staff on the project. Despite working overtime, I missed the deadline by three days. (Action) When I realized that the deadline was fast approaching, I called the client and apologized. I took full accountability for the inconvenience and provided a new timeline that I could meet. (Result) I met the second deadline that I promised the client, and they were impressed with my transparent and honest attitude throughout the process."
Example #2
"(Situation) In my current role, we had a serious backlog of candidates who were waiting for a response on their applications. (Task) Since I am the Admin Assistant, my boss tasked me to sort through our company's ATS system and reject candidates who did not possess the minimum education requirement for a position for which we were hiring. (Action) Because I do not have a lot of experience in recruitment or resume reading, the job took me much longer than my boss expected. I realized after a few hours that my pace was not what he was expecting, so I offered to take some work home to catch up. (Result) He declined the offer but was happy with my willingness to go over and above to meet the original deadline. In the end, we agreed on a new deadline that I was able to meet."
Example #3
"(Situation) While working for Company ABC, we went through an entire company overhaul related to our IT systems. (Task) As the IT Manager, I had to organize this system update across the organization. Although I had a great amount of lead time, some of the vendors failed to complete their tasks on time, and I knew that we were unable to meet the deadline for the system launch. (Action) As soon as I realized that the deadline was not do-able, I utilized transparency and communicated in-person to let the leadership team know we would experience a delay. I was specific on what went awry and assured them that the IT team was doing everything we could to reach the launch ASAP. (Result) In the end, I was able to resolve the issue with some of our vendors, negotiating rush services. We did not meet our deadline; however, we were only one week out, which wasn't as bad as I initially anticipated."
Example #4
"(Situation) Recently, I needed to write up a new client's projected account volume for the following fiscal year. (Task) I was the only person on our team available and equipped to perform this with a fast turnaround. (Action) I jumped into the task right away; however, despite working after hours to complete the project, I knew it was not going to be the quality work I wanted to submit. Once I recognized this, I was honest with my boss about the revised timeline needed to complete the task. (Result) My boss was understanding and simply swapped my review by one day to give me the appropriate time to prepare. They also gave me access to an operations assistant to assist with preparation. While I was embarrassed to fall short of expectations, I learned to communicate early and often and ask for assistance when I need it."
Example #5
"(Situation) When working in the shoe department at Company ABC, we noticed a severe issue in inventory tracking after the busy holiday season. (Task) As the Inventory Manager, it was up to me to reorganize the inventory room, which was 4000 sq feet in total. It was a huge undertaking, and as I was so eager to please, I underestimated the amount of time it would take to redo the system. I gave a three-week time estimate, and within a week, it was clear that the deadline was unrealistic. (Action) I immediately went to upper management with a plan. I could meet the timeline, provided I received additional resources such as overtime hours and additional staff. Or, we could push the inventory project to a 6-week timeline. (Result) By communicating early, admitting my error in judgment, and asking for help, the worst thing that happened was a bit of initial disappointment. More than anything, my management team appreciated the transparency. The situation taught me to dig deeper into the scope of a project before committing to a timeline."
Example #6
"(Situation) While working as a Sales Manager for Company ABC, we fell behind on sales targets after a product launch became delayed due to further endurance testing. (Task) As the Sales Manager, it was up to me to help my team of 12 reps pivot to the change and start delivering results despite this delay. (Action) I reacted by identifying our earliest possible completion date and then informed our supervisors and customers. I also crafted a new pre-sale initiative for the reps to push. (Result) Because I remained pragmatic through the entire situation and presented solutions rather than giving up, my team exceeded the sales target by 23%."
Example #7
"(Situation) Last year, our faculty needed to refresh the math curriculum for our grade 4/5 class. (Task) As the Learning Leader, it was up to me to take a lot of initiative on the project. The project was robust, and our timeline was tight. It quickly became apparent that we did not have enough time to finish. (Action) Rather than rush the work and have a crummy outcome, I encouraged the team to work on weekends, ensuring a more effective, engaging curriculum. My stance was that, by identifying our objective and refusing to settle for less, we would keep the best interest of our department and students in mind. To me, this seemed like a better option than sacrificing our goal. Not everyone agreed with me; however, I kept my end of the bargain and worked double-time to complete my tasks. (Result) In the end, although I sacrificed my personal time to meet the goal, we did fail as a team. I learned that I could be persuasive, but in the end, I cannot control the actions of others. However, I was proud of myself for delivering the high-quality work that I expect from myself."
Example #8
"I had a suit that was overdue by one week. The reason was because the cutter had a sudden family emergency, and the person who took over was new. This disrupted the flow of my work. I worked a few hours extra each day until the suit was finished. I told the boss that we need to make sure we have backups in place, like keeping a list of freelance tailors who we can outsource the work to in emergencies."
Example #9
"Experiencing a deadline change is always a bit scary, but I understand that it happens from time to time. If I experience a major deadline change I will take a few moments to debrief with my manager and create a plan of action. Then, I get to work!"
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