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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

Think about a difficult boss, professor or coworker. How did you successfully interact with this person?

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Behavioral Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    Think about a difficult boss, professor or coworker. How did you successfully interact with this person?

      The interviewer wants to know how you interact with people who may have challenging personalities. Think about that one person at work who is hard to please. Or, perhaps, there is someone at work who tries to intimidate others.

      Show the interviewer that you work well with most personalities even though you recognize there are some folks out there who are quite difficult to please. Avoid speaking poorly of anyone, and be sure to end your response on a positive note.

      'Think about a time when...' means that the interviewer is looking for a story-based example for this behavioral-based interview question. This style means forming a response 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.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "(Situation) I once worked at a locally-owned shop where the owner was very demanding. When he would walk into the store, employees would announce over their headset system that the owner was in the building, so that everyone could prepare for his entrance into their department. (Task) I am a perpetually positive person, so I took the stance that he had great intentions; however, his people skills were a little rough. I could see that he meant well, and I recognized that he wanted to do a lot of good things. I was determined to help my co-workers to see it this way as well. (Action) When we interacted, I always took his feedback with the understanding that he didn't mean things as harshly as he might say to them. Slowly, he began to soften up. As my colleagues saw that my approach was working, they began to communicate with the owner in the same manner. (Result) After just a few months, the mood of the store was more positive, and our team was much more at ease."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Admin interview

      "(Situation) I once worked for an executive who was very difficult in meetings. He did not interact politely with others. (Task) As his Executive Assistant, I took it upon myself to help this person interact better with our team and stakeholders. (Action) When he would bark orders, I would reiterate what he was trying to say to the group more professionally. It was a subtle approach, and I did so with total respect and patience. (Result) It took some time to see change, but soon he learned to communicate in a way that made people want to collaborate with him."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Manager interview

      "(Situation) At Business ABC, one of my managers was very cold and 'matter of fact' in his approach. (Task) I have worked most of my career in the logistics industry, which I understand attracts a large variety of personalities. However, I am a warm person by nature and found it challenging to connect with this particular person. As the team lead, I needed to adapt since we collaborated on tasks nearly every day. (Action) I changed my approach by sticking solely to the facts when in meetings, and always presented data versus opinions. (Result) In the end, it wasn't the most profound relationship that I've had in my career, but we made it work for us and got along enough to do our jobs and deliver reliable performance."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Marketing interview

      "(Situation) The most difficult person I ever worked with was my boss a few years back. She was the Marketing Associate until she received a promotion to Marketing Manager. Unfortunately, after her promotion, she was no longer willing to listen to my project ideas. I believe this was partly out of pride and partly because she was trying to find her footing in this larger role. (Task) Because our roles were so closely aligned, I knew that we needed to learn to work together. (Action) I sat with her for a one-on-one meeting, and we had a nice talk about the positive changes she made to the department. Once I showed her that I appreciated her contribution, I then presented my thoughts on growing the ideas that she had started. (Result) We quickly became a great duo. We worked very well together by combining our strengths to make each project exceptional. Today, she stands as one of my professional references."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Retail interview

      "(Situation) One of the most difficult people I've encountered was a customer at ABC Luxury Store. (Task) I was a personal stylist at the boutique, and this customer was notoriously difficult, cranky, and picky. However, she was a big spender, so I needed to cater to her needs. (Action) She shopped with me once per month and, each time she arrived at the showroom, I made it the ultimate challenge to win her over. I gave myself incremental goals along the way, small checkpoints such as getting a nod of approval, or a smirk or grin. I made it a fun little game for myself. (Result) Ultimately, I did win her over, and she warmed up to me, even smiling now and then."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Sales interview

      "(Situation) In the past, I struggled with my VP of Sales. She was brought on with no industry experience and seemed to have little interest in learning the industry. (Task) As the Sales Manager, it was up to me to win her over. (Action) I invited her on a business trip for an out of town client. I wanted her to meet my clients. Also, I aimed to spend one-on-one time to get to know her personality and approach. I asked questions about her background, what attracted her to our company, and her short term goals for the organization. (Result) During the trip, we bonded as humans, mothers, and sales executives. She learned a lot about the company and industry, and I learned of the skills she brought from her previous roles."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Teacher interview

      "(Situation) I had a coworker in the Spanish department of my former school, who was very traditional in her teaching approach. She came from the school of thought that children were to be seen and not heard. (Task) I believe that kids are kids and, to be able to learn most effectively, they need to get up and move. I wanted to show her the importance of relaxing, just a touch. (Action) Over a few months, I spent more time with her in the teachers' lounge, where we would often discuss teaching philosophies and experiences. (Result) She began to trust my teaching approach, and we even collaborated on a couple of activities between classes. I think the students appreciated my efforts in helping their other teacher to introduce more fun in the classroom."

      Anonymous Answer

      "I had a boss that was graceless under pressure. What was worse is that the feedback from the team was that she had a short fuse and could be very rude at times. The company was growing at a frenzied pace, and there was a lot of pressure on all of us to perform. One time, while on the phone with me, she began to cry because she got lost while driving. I calmly told her to pull over and so that she could send me a pin of where she was. I mapped her location and stayed on the phone with her until she calmed down and reached her destination safely. Her attitude changed towards me after that experience."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Graceless under pressure is a VERY NICE way of saying what I think you are saying. Excellent response. The interviewer should appreciate your approach, willingness to help, and the ability to remain gracious even when you may not feel like it.

      Was this answer helpful? Yes (2) or No (1)
      Anonymous Answer

      "There was a time when I did have to work with a coworker that was hard to get along with. He wanted to do his own thing and didn't like working as a team even though he knew that some of the responsibilities belonged to both of us. When I tried to work with him, he would always say that he did not have time, maybe later, or that he was working on something else. What I did to interact with him was, I started praising his accomplishments in front of others, did small things to make his life a little easier. As time went by, he began to trust me and assist me with project tasks."

      Rachelle's Answer

      This is awesome! What a great approach you took. Well done.

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

      "Situation: I was working with a new team member who was a product lead for one of the new, hot products at the company. This product was a priority, and we were dropping what we were doing to support this product release. Task: With that, I noticed the team member was kind of acting rushed, a bit dismissive, and expecting me to complete tasks without much direction or communication. It was clear that a lot of our talks were getting lost in translation. Action: I was working an event in the office she was located at the time, so I took it as an opportunity to ask her out for coffee and meet with her in person. I wanted to make sure I was forming a personal connection with her and that I had a better understanding of how we could work smarter together. Result: As a result, I could tell she felt a bit more at ease. She was stressed out due to this new role's responsibilities, and I think we communicated a lot better afterwards and I think she felt less tense knowing I was working with her and not against her."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Good for you! The kindness and warmth you extended - highly thoughtful and undoubtedly changed her approach, feelings, and comfort level around her new role. This is a good example of reaching out to ensure smooth communication and a positive connection.

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
      Anonymous Answer

      "My previous supervisor was difficult to interact with, as he was a little rough around the edges. He would tell us that we had better do the job his way, and if we didn't, he could make life rough for us. I never had an issue doing my work correctly, so I didn't have many negative encounters with him. When I needed to be coached, I took his feedback positively and showed him I was a worker he could rely on. After that, tensions eased, and we were able to work together better."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Yikes - this sounds like a tough person to deal with. It's good that your negative encounters were minimal, and it seems you were able to handle his approach in a very professional and pragmatic manner. Great job!

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
      Anonymous Answer

      "At the news agency I worked for, I had a more experienced coworker who was very much set in his ways. He was a kind soul, but when it came to work, he acted in a hurried and careless manner that resulted in a lot of mistakes in the stories he edited and published. All my attempts at encouraging him to change his behavior failed. However, I refused to give up. Knowing that he had a kind and compliant personality, I asked him to kindly share the story he was done editing and preparing for publication so that I could learn from the brevity that defined his style and also that a second pair of eyes would be helpful in catching small issues, if any. Deciding that I meant well, he agreed wholeheartedly, and I began to proofread his copy, which resulted in drastic improvements in his performance."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Your approach with this individual was very smart and well thought out. It's great that you played to this person's pride and approached the situation as a way to learn from them while also helping improve their copy. Great example!

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
      Anonymous Answer

      "I had a co-worker who was always negative, which made it hard to work with him without getting negative myself. I tried to spin a positive outlook on everything as much as possible to keep his attitude more positive instead of negative. I found that if I started joking with him, he would laugh a little bit and it would make everything more enjoyable."

      Kristine's Answer

      "Great answer! Your interviewer will be impressed you found a way to work with your co-worker and improve his mood."

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
      Anonymous Answer

      "I had a difficult boss when I was a personal trainer; he would often try to intimidate me and was very hard on me for little things. It made work a very stressful environment. Co-workers even noticed my boss being extra hard on me. I always agreed to his demands and did my job. I turned things around when I earned his respect by starting to work out at 3 am (work began at 5 am). He would often workout at this time and made comments about how no one is as dedicated as him. I used this alone time working out with him to pick his brain on training techniques and nutrition. After I started doing this, I believe I earned his respect. He started treating me differently, and even those co-workers began saying I was his favorite trainer."

      Rachelle's Answer

      You learned to speak his language, which changed the relationship. A very dedicated approach, indeed!

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
      Anonymous Answer

      "I became a sales director at a previous job. I was younger and less experienced than some other reps. One particular rep was not happy that she wasn't selected and resented me. I make a point to travel with her to meet her customers. We drove around the country together and bonded on a personal level and we were able to work well together thereafter."

      Rachelle's Answer

      It sounds like you had a very effective approach to getting to know this co-worker and make a connection. Nicely done!

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
      Anonymous Answer

      "I have worked in a field which attracts a large variety of personalities. I am a warm person by nature and have found it challenging to connect with those who are cold and 'matter of fact.' One of my coworkers during my Ph.D. was this way, so I adapted by sticking to the facts when in meetings, and presenting data versus opinions. It turned out to be a great relationship."

      Rachelle's Answer

      This example is exactly what the interviewer would be looking for. Wonderful!

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      Anonymous Answer

      "At one of my previous jobs, we had a new district manager. He was much more hands-on than our previous DM, and he expected much more from the managers than did our previous DM, especially when keeping up with auditing procedures. I worked with the team to set up task lists, and I delegated some of the responsibilities to technicians. I also communicated by email with the district manager, and I partnered with a nearby manager at another location. We scored well on our audits and improved our compliance with completing the day-to-day tasks of the pharmacy. I was able to develop a good working relationship with the district manager who I was able to work with as long as I worked there."

      Rachelle's Answer

      You went over and above to be highly cooperative. Good answer!

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No