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Behavioral Interview
Questions

| Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.

Question 1 of 30

Tell me about a time you wish you had handled a workplace situation, differently.

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Behavioral Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    Tell me about a time you wish you had handled a workplace situation, differently.

      Most people cannot handle every difficult 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.

      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.

      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 include a display of immaturity or make it look like you have a temper.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "(Situation) I recently had a client come into the office and yell at one of my staff members, embarrassing her. (Task) As the Manager, it was up to me to react professionally. (Action) I focused my time on 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. (Result) 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."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Admin interview

      "(Situation) My team recently hired a new junior administrator. (Task) As the more senior administrator on the team, I was tasked with training this new employee. (Action) Throughout the training, I did what I could to overlook the persons' bad attitude, assuming that they had been well-vetted through the interview process. Shortly after his onboarding, he ended up quitting. (Result) 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. What I learned from the situation, however, is that I will respectfully speak up from now on."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Manager interview

      "(Situation) A few months ago, we were very short-staffed. (Task) I hired someone because one of my top performers recommended her for the job. (Action) 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. (Result) 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."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Marketing interview

      "(Situation) Last year, one of my larger clients changed the scope of their project multiple times. It was a highly frustrating process for everyone. (Task) As the Marketing Manager, it was up to me to reign in the client and the project. (Action) I spent additional time with this client until we finally agreed on a specific campaign. (Result) In the end, the project 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."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Retail interview

      "(Situation) Recently, there was a shopper in my store who was acting suspiciously. (Task) As an associate on the floor, I take my job very seriously and always keep an eye out for suspicious activity. (Action) 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. (Result) 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 I was paying attention. I should have been more visible in that situation."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Sales interview

      "(Situation) A couple of weeks ago, I was feeling overwhelmed with a new product that our company rolled out. (Task) I spent so much time learning the features and benefits that I allowed my cold calling to slide. (Action) Rather than cold call the typical 100 companies that week, I called about 25. The impact on my weekly numbers was apparent. The next week, I tripled up on my cold calling. (Result) What I realized from the situation was that I need to keep the call volume going, despite added responsibilities."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Teacher interview

      "(Situation) I noticed a star student behaving out of character a few months back. (Task) As his primary teacher, I should have had a conversation with him right away. (Action) However, I felt rushed with marking papers and preparing for finals and did not give this student the attention that I should have. (Result) 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."

      Ryan's Answer
       for a Veterinarian School interview

      "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"

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Economist interview

      "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."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Customer Representative interview

      "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."

      Anonymous Answer

      "We had a customer that had an issue with their alarm system. I had to get help from another co-worker, and I asked him directly instead of going through his manager. He got in trouble for helping me when I was trying to help the customer. If I had to do it over again, I would have gone through his manager first to get his manager's approval before asking him to help me figure out a solution."

      Kristine's Answer

      Great response! Your example shows personal growth, which your interviewer will recognize and appreciate.

      Was this answer helpful? Yes (8) or No (0)
      Anonymous Answer

      "There was a time when I was younger that I had spoken out of turn, not knowing the situation and wished I had listened and considered the entire issue before reacting. I, of course, apologized for not listening and speaking out of turn."

      Rachelle's Answer

      It's great that you show your willingness to be humble, learn, apologize, and move on. Your answer shows that you are self-aware. Good!

      Was this answer helpful? Yes (2) or No (0)
      Anonymous Answer

      "We hired for a financial controller some years back. the first 2 interviews were with our external auditors and the incumbent FC. I was called into a 3rd interview. I felt the guy was intimidating and overbearing but I didn't say anything. All the other interviewers liked him and were willing to hire him so I didn't think my feelings were important. He turned out to be a big mistake. I wish I'd have spoken up."

      Rachelle's Answer

      This is a perfect example and it's great that you took a lesson from the situation as well. Good answer!

      Was this answer helpful? Yes (1) or No (0)
      Anonymous Answer

      "During my Ph.D., I noticed one of the master's students was behaving out of character. I was in a hurry grading papers 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 with his scholarship grant and he hadn't finished his minor in another department. 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 university. Since then, I've been much more attentive, even during my work peak times."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Your response is so well crafted. You take accountability and show a willingness to grow. This is exactly what the interviewer would like to hear.

      Was this answer helpful? Yes (1) or No (0)
      Anonymous Answer

      "I once had an experience where I was working with a new facilitator for an event. She was not my project manager contact for the event, but she took over many pieces. Throughout the end of the event, I noticed her tone was fairly crass, and as much as I offered my assistance, she wasn't taking it. I let this go and never told my project manager or direct manager of her treatment to avoid causing any drama. Later that year, my direct manager came to the same event and encountered a similar experience with this new facilitator. She ended up being really frustrated, which is when I told her about my previous experiences working with her. If I could have re-done the experience, I would have communicated my experience with my peers and manager sooner. This experience actually made me feel closer to the people I worked with and had I known if I spoke up sooner, they would've had my back, I wouldn't have been so timid. I take this experience with me as a reminder to collaborate with my peers, no matter their level, and always make sure that if I can contribute to someone's growth, I'm pulling a seat for them at the table."

      Rachelle's Answer

      It seems this was a pivotal lesson for you. The way you approached the situation sounds professional, and it's apparent that you have built the confidence to be yourself and lift others along the way. These are significant characteristics - good for you!

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
      Anonymous Answer

      "At my current job, I once installed a service for a customer, and the job took more time than expected to complete. It was close to the end of the workday, so I ensured that the service was working, but I failed to explain the customer's services thoroughly. This resulted in the customer leaving me with a low score on our company's review system. Since this situation, I ensure that I take my time to thoroughly complete every job, which has resulted in higher review scores and better service."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Excellent! You give the full scope in this example, taking accountability for the situation and showing the interviewer exactly what you learned. My only recommendation is, if applicable, mention any impact this low review had on you (i.e., did you have a meeting with your supervisor? What feelings prompted you to ensure this didn't happen again?).

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      Anonymous Answer

      "When I was working as a news gatherer in New York City, I had the opportunity to cover a protest. My editor thought this was not necessary, but I wanted to do it because I thought, "this is NYC and every story counts". There was also a company get-together that day where people would mingle and get to know each other better. Even though I got a good story and nice photos out of the protest, I later regretted focusing solely on work and not engaging in an activity that would have helped me cultivate my work environment."

      Rachelle's Answer

      In retrospect, it would have been helpful to network and build your workplace connections. Did your editor react to your decision in any particular way, considering you did not heed their advice of the story being unnecessary?

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
      Anonymous Answer

      "I was recently promoted to Team Lead from sales mid-day when I was transferred another sales members call with the intent of closing the deal. Upon securing the client's transaction, I was met with frustration from the salesperson as they were unaware of my recent promotion and became frustrated from the incentive perspective. The VP of Sales quickly explained my new role and how I will be assisting the team moving forward. Wish the VP would have notified the sales team earlier."

      Rachelle's Answer

      That's a tough position to be in, for sure. Is there anything you could have done differently in this situation?

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
      Anonymous Answer

      "Our team was working on TC automation and getting new tasks every two weeks. Since I reviewed the code, I could observe others' performance. One of the team members was artificially expanding his tasks and creating a large number of repeating TCs. At the same time, our backlog had a lot of other urgent stories that we needed to work on. I was busy with my tasks but tried to convince him that it would be more useful for the team if he focused on a higher priority task. Unfortunately, our conversation didn’t lead to the results that I wanted. He continued working on the same tasks. If I was in the same situation again, I would’ve done two things differently. I would have brought it up to the product owner and explained why I didn't think that the tasks he was working on were priorities. I would have spoken up about my concerns during the planning session and proposed a postponement of these tasks so he could be reassigned to something more urgent."

      Rachelle's Answer

      This story is a good example of seeing an issue and perhaps not speaking up like you should have/wanted to. * Good edits re: how you initially reacted and then what you would have done differently.

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      Anonymous Answer

      "As a cloud computing learner, it was important to me to learn terraform so that I could be involved in remedy requests. In order to learn it, I created two AWS security groups and an application load balancer for webpage using terraform. It took a lot of time to create those resources. I also took a deep dive course that really delayed task delivery. I could have been more efficient if I contacted the right people with terraform skills and gotten direction from them."

      Rachelle's Answer

      This answer is an excellent start! When it comes to forming a complete response to any 'Tell me about a time...' question, I recommend following the STAR framework closely. This way, you set the stage for your story while also including a firm resolution. Here is a guide if you would like to do some further research: https://www.mockquestions.com/articles/Master Behavioral-Based Interviews Using The Star Method/

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