Nobody can handle every situation with the utmost grace, at all times. No matter who you are, there is undoubtedly a work-related situation that makes you cringe a bit when you look back. The example that you should use here should not be a weighty one but have enough of an impact to show the interviewer that you can bounce back from a misstep in the workplace. Avoid examples that make you look like you have a temper, or display immaturity.
"I recently had a client come into the office and yell at one of my staff members, embarrassing her. I focused my time calming the client down when I believe that I should have stuck up for my employee first and foremost. Verbally abusive behavior is intolerable, and I wish I would have reacted differently, perhaps asking the client to apologize for their behavior and leave. A valuable staff member is worth much more than a bad client. I later apologized to my staff member for not reacting on her behalf quickly enough."
"I was recently tasked with training a new employee and noticed that he had a negative attitude. I did what I could to overlook the issue, assuming that this person had been well-vetted through the interview process. Shortly after he was onboard, he ended up quitting. I wish that I would have listened to my gut, and told my boss about the concerns that I had. It would have saved the company a lot of time, and money."
"I hired an employee because one of my top performers recommended her for the job. Despite my better judgment, I did not follow my usual interview process. I skipped a few important steps, believing that this particular hire would be a great one. This new hire was not a strong performer, and I ended up terminating her employment shortly after I hired and trained her. I now know to never stray from my hiring process, no matter the referral source."
"Last year, one of my larger clients changed the scope of their project multiple times. It was a highly frustrating process for everyone. We finally agreed to a specific campaign, but it took twice as long as it should have. Immediately after, I implemented a stronger discovery process so that we could better outline our clients' needs and assess their commitment to the process before getting started."
"Recently, there was a shopper in my store who was acting suspiciously. I told security about my concern but, because there is so much store to be covered, they were not able to be as attentive to the situation as I would have liked. This person ended up stealing a few items of merchandise. If I could revisit that situation, I would have personally approached the person and ask to help them find what they needed - letting them know we were paying attention. I should have been more visible in that situation."
"A couple of weeks ago I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with a new product that our company rolled out. I spent so much time learning the features and benefits that I allowed my cold calling to slide. Rather than cold call the typical 100 companies that week, I called about 25. The effect was apparent on my numbers this week. I realize that I need to keep the call volume going, despite added responsibilities."
"I noticed a star student behaving out of character a few months back. I was rushed with marking papers, and preparing for finals, and did not give this student the attention that I should have. I found out shortly after that this person was going through a very tough time at home. If I could have done anything differently, I would have approached him and asked him if he needed to talk, and perhaps directed him to the guidance counselor at the school. I have recently vowed to be much more attentive, even during my peak stress times."
"During a previous role I was responsible for the administration of development reviews for students. I had a difficult situation when I noticed that a supervisor was writing offensive and demotivating notes on the staff reviews. This was concerning to me and I was worried about mentioning it as this person was a senior member of staff. I let my manager know and the issue was highlighted and resolved without my involvement but I believe it was an important issue to have raised"
"Due to the struggling economy, I was recently asked to recommend layoffs within our organization. Being a leader, it was incredibly difficult for me to choose who would lose their job. I decided to remove all emotions and make my choice based on performance analytics alone. That made the decisions much simpler, but still not easy."
"There was a time that I had to refuse a customer's unreasonable request due to company policy. In order to appease the customer, I empathized with their situation and communicated a willingness to help them find an alternative."