The interviewer wants to know how you go about achieving goals when you lack explicit instruction from your manager or company. Part of the point of this interview question is to find out where your moral compass lands when company rules are not clear. Give the interviewer an example of a time when you had to cope with very few guidelines.
"One of my earlier positions was for a family-run furniture company with very few guidelines or rules of engagement when it came to sales, service, and the common protocols. It was pure chaos, but I did my best by following what I intuitively felt was the best decision. I ended up being the top salesperson and promoted to manager."
"I worked for a small family-owned agency for a while. Most processes were not formally written down or included in my onboarding training. I made it my project to create "what-if" scenarios, get answers from the bosses, and compile a troubleshooting list to work from."
"As a manager, I understand the need for clear guidelines and expectations. In my current role, I created a playbook of sorts for my team to follow. I don't like to enforce rules explicitly; rather, I hope that my team will use their training, knowledge, and intuition to make the best decisions."
"Working in an online marketing start-up company, there were many situations where rules and guidelines were not clear. I took it upon myself to identify the need. My team and I needed direction. So, I drafted the rules and guidelines and came up with a system for others to contribute. Together, we created the internal structure that the company operates in today!"
"I've had a position where the company did have clear guidelines and procedures. However, the manager didn't follow that set of rules and instead implemented her own. This situation was not only odd but also tricky. To please my boss, I had to follow her rules but to move up in the company and please corporate; I had to follow theirs. Ultimately, I found an excellent middle ground that kept me productive, my boss happy with my sales and productivity, and was presumably pleasing to the store managers and corporate. I later moved to a different department into a leadership position. All that to say, I'm comfortable in awkward, figure-it-out situations, and can figure out a way to succeed and keep all parties happy, no matter what the parameters."
"In startups, hard set rules are difficult to find. You are to sell and hit your metrics, but it's 99% a figure-it-out-yourself situation. This situation can be an awesome opportunity to pilot out your ideas and tactics almost all of the time, as long as you're comfortable with trial and error and creative license. I have loved this opportunity to create my approach to my building my book of business. Yes, it can be frustrating when you feel lost, but I've always found that my ideas coupled with putting my head together with teammates and those that have been there longer than I will yield results and allows me to have fun while I'm at it!"
"During a transition period when we had no department chair, you could say guidelines were unclear. There was no one necessarily mandating that we hold our meetings, for instance. However, a few us knew that it was beneficial to us as teachers, and the department as a whole, to continue. We took turns leading the meetings and acting as though each of us was the supervisor for the following two weeks, passing the torch to the next teacher as she stepped in. This method allowed for us to continue growing and learning, collaborating, and also be ready to transition to the new official team lead seamlessly."
The interviewer wants to see that you are confident enough to take the initiative when the opportunity arises. Talk about your motivation and passion for being an active leader in the workplace. Describe any project or learning experience where you saw a chance to lead and took advantage of it. Talk about the success of the project and your biggest takeaway from experience.
"In my previous role, I recognized that our team needed a training program to bring others in at a quicker rate. I took the initiative to create the training program, playbook and schedule, incorporating all the work we did in a way that people could easily replicate. The team loved having it, and more so, enjoyed having others, fully trained, join us quickly."
"When I first started in my current role, I took it upon myself to organize the digital files for the company. They were a mess, and it was a huge challenge, but I was pleased with my ability to take on a project that nobody else wanted to do."
"In my previous role, I took the lead on a communication project to help pass along pertinent information to our 2nd and 3rd production shift in a more effective way. We ended up hanging announcement screens throughout the building. The project was a success."
"Our company was discussing a new product launch into the European market. I reached out to the head of the marketing department and asked if I could be the lead product researcher. I stated my case by discussing why I would be the best fit for that opportunity. She agreed and gave me the opportunity to take the lead. The project was a great success which gave me the confidence to speak up again. Next week I will be starting another project where I'll be the lead product researcher."
"When our new season's merchandise comes it, we often require a lot of extra hours to get settled. Although I am not a manager, I do help to organize the team while ensuring that the sales floor remains attended. I like the organization aspect and am a positive person, so people naturally want to follow me."
"In my last role, I identified the need for ongoing learning and training, so I founded our weekly lunch-and-learns with a different weekly topic. I worked across departments to feature different guest lecturers and industry experts from our board to educate the sales team better so we would all be more effective in our pitches."
"I took the lead by spearheading the development of testing our curriculum. I suggested we write and implement testing of the students' knowledge and helped delegate, compile, and ultimately approve the tests we ended up using. They've proven very effective, and we've refined our curriculum and targets because of it."
The interviewer wants to hear more about your decision making and critical thinking skills. Keep your answer career based and discuss a decision you made where you may not have had all of the pertinent information. The interviewer would like to see that you can use logic to make a sound decision. Show the interviewer that you are capable and confident when it comes to independent thinking and decision making. Be sure to include the success you saw in your sound decision making.
"In my current role, I am responsible for creating the weekly schedule for 56 staff members. When I first took on the responsibility of scheduling, I did not have any data regarding our busiest times of the week and day. I had to guesstimate our customer traffic while remaining under the staffing budget and, at the same time, not understaffing. I used my logic and critical thinking skills to fill in the blanks for the data that I did not have. It worked out quite well for me. Now I fully understand our customer traffic flow which has made staff scheduling a breeze."
"As an executive assistant, ambiguity is a large part of my daily reality. I always do the best with the information I have to keep things moving. I often find myself making decisions wishing I had just a little bit more data. In these cases, I look at everything I have, create what-if scenarios for several variables and select the best possible option."
"Before my company had an HR department, I had to make executive decisions related to hiring and terminating. The information I was often missing were some of the questions a candidate would ask, such as details on benefits, for example. I was able to connect with an account representative of the benefits company, and they agreed to be the first point of contact for any questions by those being on-boarded."
"Often, our clients are vague on their needs because they don't fully know themselves what they seek. I have had to fill in the blanks many times. I always know my clients well so I am comfortable making executive decisions when they cannot."
"Often when a customer dispute arises, I only have a piece of the puzzle to go off of, whether because they haven't given the full story, or I'm pulled in by the associate who heard the full story. In either case, it's something I'm accustomed to and deal with daily. I assess quickly what category the problem seems to fall in, and go from there. Nine times out of ten, my first assessment was right. I solve the issue from there."
"Once, I had a customer looking for a particular piece of inventory, and it was hard to source. Nationwide, there were only two products that met the criteria and both were seemingly identical, but I had to choose which was better to purchase on his behalf. With a price tag of $50k+, it was a significant decision to make, since we would have to absorb the difference if there were damages or issues with the unit. I was able to use my industry knowledge, and understanding of the different types of sellers, as well as my instinct on how my buyer would have thought through the situation to choose the piece of inventory. By using context and prior knowledge, as well as a bit of inference, I was able to make the purchase that resulted in a pleased customer."
"For years the department didn't have any way to quantify if our teaching methods were effective. Two years ago, I proposed that we set up four tests throughout the year to test cumulative knowledge. That summer, we sat down and wrote those tests and have been using them since. Now we shape all of our curriculum decisions off of actual data instead of having to disagree with or follow a gut feeling."
The interviewer wants to know how you handle pressure when an unexpected stressor arises. Being able to make quick decisions and think fast on your feet sets top-notch professionals out from the crowd. We all make a lot of choices every day, so start off by telling the interviewer that you make a lot of quick decisions each day. Next, be prepared for a more significant example that will be sure to impress.
"My current position requires me to make tough decisions on a regular basis. I work well under pressure like that. With split-second decisions, I will always go with my initial instinct. Last week, I had two high-profile clients show up for a meeting at the same time. One client was late, and the other was early. I did not want anyone to feel bad for being late or too early, so I had each party placed in a different conference room. My colleague started the meeting with our early meeting while I met with the client who was late. It worked out well because I am no stranger to multi-tasking and I have great support staff."
"In my current administrative role, this happens often! We handle a lot of customer situations and put them first and foremost. Often, we have guidelines we follow, and there are also times when situations call for creative solutions to meet customer needs. I make split-second decisions when resolving these matters, always keeping the best interest of the company in mind."
"In my previous role at Company ABC, the senior plant manager was out one day, and there was a bottleneck on the production line. As the assistant plant manager, it was up to me to pull the team together. I reviewed the schedule and made a quick decision to double up on our hours for the following day. We were able to catch up, and no customers were affected."
"I had a client approve website copy that did not agree with me. Something sounded off, but I couldn't fully put my finger on it. The day we were supposed to launch, I pulled the plug and sent recommended changes to the client. It was a risk, but it worked out better in the end. The client gained further trust in my work, and I learned that it's always best to follow your intuition."
"Last month, my manager quit on the spot while I was the assistant manager, therefore all responsibility transferred to me during the middle of the shift, on the floor. It was understandably uncomfortable, but I took it in stride. I took a quick second to take a breath, get my head in the game, and took charge of the floor, reassuring everyone of that things would go on as usual and delegating tasks as needed."
"The best example of my split-second decision making is when it also helped me close a huge deal. We were two online demos into a six-figure deal and had the third demonstration set up for the next day, where all stakeholders would be in attendance. As soon as I hung up the phone, I grabbed my manager and told him that I was going to either drive or fly to their location because I believed an in-person meeting would be the difference maker. I believe to this day that the deal would not have closed, or it would have dragged out a considerable amount of time had I not arrived to do the demo in person. Going above expectations will never fail you, in sales."
"There are constant split-second decisions as a teacher, often surrounding how to handle behavior from students, who to group, and the like. I wouldn't describe this as anything out of the ordinary, but I had a student with some significant behavior issues have a breakdown in class. I quickly had to assess how to handle the situation best to protect best his safety, and that of other students, without alarming anyone. I was able to quickly grab an aide and another classroom and get help for this student. We called the nurse as well. By reacting swiftly, I was able to contain a potentially volatile and traumatic situation. My adrenaline was flowing, but it felt good to make a great decision in a high-stakes situation."
The interviewer wants to know that you can learn new skills, under pressure. Hiring managers want to hear that you are willing to put in the effort required to learn new skills, even when it may seem difficult. Think about the times when your company implemented new software, or when you learned a new procedure. Perhaps your employer has asked you to attend a workshop at the last minute, or you had to study for a policy exam. These make great examples! Discuss how you diligently studied related materials, attended a training seminar, or bought a book to help you learn the new content. Keep in mind; this is another excellent opportunity to express that you accept workplace changes with ease.
"In my most recent role, I was unfamiliar with their hospital record keeping system. After a few days of on the job training, I was able to maintain the hospital record keeping system, but I still wasn't happy with my fluency. I found tutorials online and spent evenings training myself to a deeper level of knowledge. It was nice to dive in, learn the system well, and have that sense of accomplishment early on in my role."
"When I first began my administration career, I started as a temp with an agency. Placed in a variety of roles that changed weekly and sometimes even daily, I often jumped into roles where there was a lot to learn in a short time. Deadlines were often due yesterday. I utilized and maximized my resources to the fullest. I learned about plenty of industries and best of all, had fun doing it!"
"Our company recently implemented a new SAP system. Not only was I tasked with learning the system but I also needed to train my team of five on the use of the system. I had two weeks, so I took a lot of the modules home, watched a plethora of tutorials online, and even utilized some how-to videos on YouTube. I did it, and was proud of the accomplishment."
"Our agency implemented a new design program recently, and I needed to know the ins and outs of it to work effectively on my largest client project. I hunkered down, put a sign on my cubicle that said, 'Do not feed the animals' and got to work researching and learning. Everyone understood that I needed some time, and they reserved calling my name for urgent requests only."
"I was promoted to assistant manager in a new department with basically two days' notice. While it was super exciting, it was an entirely unfamiliar department. From the employees to the merchandise, it was all brand new. I took the bull by the horns and got to business learning everything I could about their past inventory, what sells well, and the dynamics of their team, so that I could be as efficient as possible right out the gate. However, I also recognized that I would be most useful if I were to be open about not knowing things and seek out the guidance of the current staff. This approach proved to not only educate me but also to earn their respect. By leading with an eager and humble heart and mind, I got down to business and up to speed within a week."
"When I started my first sales position, I took a pay cut for a highly commissioned opportunity. I had to hit the ground running to get commissioned more quickly and move up the ranks. I had to learn about the car industry in no time so that I could start making appointments and sales. I spent the first week shadowing everyone I could, reading the industry publications after hours, and even went to a dealership on the weekend to walk through as though I were purchasing a used car. I wanted to understand them from the customer perspective. By Monday, I felt fully ramped and was making appointments and running demos."
"There are always moments of learning on the fly, as a teacher. One instance that stands out, in particular, is regarding a new student with severe special needs whose parents asked that he be mainstreamed for Spanish. I needed to learn overnight how to best include this student in my classroom without missing a beat teaching him, or the other students. He had certain triggers that I needed to learn and avoid, and I wanted him to be successful. I read his IEP cover to cover, spoke with his aide, classroom teacher, and parents to better understand him and his situation. The next day, he stayed for Spanish and had a huge grin on his face and clapped throughout the lesson. It was so fun and rewarding to see. He connected well with the curriculum and the other students."
Our interview questions are created by writers, almost all of which, have a long history of recruiting and interviewing candidates. They do not necessarily have experience interviewing or working with companies, careers, or schools, in which they may write for on MockQuestions.com. We do, however, strive to match their background and expertise with the appropriate question sets found on our website.
Our careers, companies, industries, and schools may have duplicate interview questions and answers found elsewhere on our website. Specifically, our companies and our graduate school interviews. For these two, we use the industry in which we believe the company most well-represents and the graduate programs, as the basis for the interview questions and answers that generate for each company or school.
The intent of MockQuestions.com is for our users to build confidence for their job interview, by using our thousands of interview questions and answers as they practice and prepare for their interview. We believe, most of our visitors can become more likely to succeed in their job interview with hard-work and practice. We believe, the key to success is for our users to rehearse with our interview questions while using our answer examples as an idea generator for their own interview answers. We strongly want to discourage users from memorizing our answer examples. That is not the purpose of our website.