This question is designed to determine if you can function well in a competitive environment. Think back to a time when you were racing others to achieve the highest sales, were working towards a promotion, or eagerly trying to win a new contract. Show the interviewer that you rose to the challenge and that you were excited to push yourself to be the best. It is a definite plus if you have cheered on your competitors and helped them along the way. Finally, be sure to mention any successful outcome.
"My current sales position is highly commission based, so my colleagues and I are quite competitive. Despite being competitive, we have a great work environment where we help each other when someone is struggling to meet their quota. We coach each other on sales techniques and share success stories. The result has been a positive work environment with healthy competition."
"There is not often a chance for competition, as an Administrative Assistant; however, our office does a fundraising challenge every Thanksgiving that involves raising sponsors for an office-wide 5K race. Every year, we donate 100% of the funds to sponsoring two families for their Christmas needs. It gets competitive, and all for a great reason!"
"In my current role, we have four department managers. We are always in a friendly competition to see who can save the most money on hours per quarter, follow procedures the closest, and have an accident free month. It's fun, but we also take these KPI's seriously at the same time."
"Our company introduced a 'friendly' competition between two agency locations. It turned into a fierce contest to see who could increase their productivity, decrease errors, and maintain our high-quality standards while earning the highest amount of positive client reviews. Our team worked tirelessly and harder than usual. We won, and all received a new iPad. The whole event was a lot of fun."
"In retail, Christmas time can be the most competitive. Numbers are high, and everyone is trying to outdo last years' performance while also earning the most commission. This season is often the time when managers introduce an incentive program to make us hustle even further. Also, there were rumors of a promotion in the coming months, which, coupled with the sales incentive, really made me and another employee want to prove ourselves worthy of both prizes. We made a handshake deal that we'd play nice, but at the end of the day, each of us still wanted to win."
"The most competitive I've ever been in a work environment was when I was up for promotion against another sales executive in another region. The leadership, brilliantly or otherwise, let us know that we were both the contenders and essentially pitted us against one another. I hunkered down and worked extra long hours and got my team on board to create and execute a plan to surpass our quota. It worked, and earned the promotion! I knew I could hold my head high about how I behaved during the competition."
"Teaching environments are rarely competitive; however, I am internally competitive when it comes to helping a student to improve their performance. I like to set goals for my struggling students and coach them in a way that speaks to their internal competitive streak."
Change is prevalent in today's workplaces, and interviewers want to know that you can embrace change. Perhaps your job duties changed, there was a significant change in policy, you had to welcome a new manager, or your company was acquired. These situations make great examples to draw on. Pick an example where you enjoyed the change the most, or where the result was the most positive. Explain how this change directly affected your job, and tell the interviewer how you maintained a positive approach during the transition. Finally, be sure to mention that evolution is a part of the workplace today, and you recognize that your role as an employee is to embrace it, encourage others to accept it, and be ready to learn new ways of doing things continually.
"Last year, we changed our patient check-in process. I was required to learn a completely new software system in a short amount of time. To tackle this challenge, I took a weekend-long online workshop to master the program. I find that when there is a major change in the workplace, it's best to take the learning curve on as a positive challenge. I encouraged my co-workers to do the same course, and it was beneficial for them as well."
"Our management team was turning over and changing due to a merger. I coped by learning as much as I could about the new company, their style, and their leaders. Luckily I avoided layoff through the process."
"Last year, my company shuffled a lot of our team under no notice which meant that, overnight, the team of 40 that I was leading, became a team of 60. I had a great rapport with the current 40 and needed to come up with a fast strategy for connecting with the additional 20. I chose to throw a team-wide after-work event so that everyone had the opportunity to get to know each other and make meaningful connections."
"We recently got a new CEO that has many credible years experience in global marketing which brings great value to bring to our team. The leadership style they practice is much different than the former CEO, so our team had to adapt quickly to manage our projects seamlessly through this change. Change is good. it is important to adapt quickly, or you risk falling behind."
"On many occasions, I've had to adapt to a new manager with vastly different management styles and skills than the previous one. As an assistant manager, or team lead, I've been on the proverbial welcome-committee, so I not only have to adapt and welcome them with open arms but provide them with the tools that they need to succeed."
"When our sales team got a new VP of sales it was a huge culture and organizational shock to everyone on the team. It was tough at first because she was new and not as knowledgeable as whom we had been working with before, so it felt like a bad personnel hire. However, once we all got to know each other and learned about her past successes in a hugely successful SaaS business, my team and I came to appreciate her insight and different perspective."
"The founding member of the elementary Spanish program ran it for 20 years, so when she left, it was a big change for us all. The subsequent chair was a high school French teacher, so it was a total 180. It took a period of adjustment and a summer full of meetings, but we came to respect and understand each other. Ultimately, the change was beneficial. By having a high school teacher as our chair, we were able to communicate more seamlessly with the older grade levels, thereby ensuring that the entire World Language Department connected in its goals, targets, and even execution."
The interviewer wants to know how you interact with people who may have challenging personalities. Think about that one person at work who is seen as hard to please. 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.
"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. I believe 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. 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."
"I once worked for an executive who was very difficult in meetings and with interacting with groups of others. I took it upon myself to help this person interact better with others. When she would bark orders, I would reiterate what she was trying to say to the group more professionally. It took some time, but she learned to behave in a way that made people want to work with her."
"I have worked most of my career in the logistics industry 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.' My former boss was this way, so I adapted by sticking solely to the facts when in meetings, and presenting data versus opinions. It wasn't the deepest relationship that I've had in my career, but we made it work for us."
"The most difficult person I ever worked with was my boss a few years back. She received a promotion to VP from the position I had been hired to fill and was unwilling to listen to my ideas to change the department. I believe she felt personally offended that I did not think her processes were the most efficient, but it was not personal. I sat with her for a one on one meeting when there were very few people in the building, and we had a nice chat about the positive changes she made to the department and my ideas to continue to grow what she began."
"One of the most difficult people I've worked with was a customer when I was a personal shopper at ABC Department Store. She was notoriously difficult, but I took this on as a challenge. I gave myself incremental goals along the way, small checkpoints gaining even the smallest amount of affection, and made it a fun little game. Ultimately, I did win her over, and she became a great recurring customer of mine."
"I struggled most with the new VP of Sales at my previous company. She was brought on with no experience in our industry and seemed to have little interest in it To win her over; I invited her on a business trip for an out of town client. I wanted her to meet my clients and spend one-on-one time together. We bonded as humans, mothers, and sales executives. She learned a lot about the company and industry, and I learned a lot about what skills she brought from her previous roles."
"I had a coworker at the Spanish department who was very 'old school.' She came from the school of thought that children were to be seen and not heard. I believe that kids are kids and, to be able to learn most effectively, they need to get up and move. That said, we were able to put our philosophical differences aside and collaborate on building better, more effective curriculum for our students. Our execution may have been different, but we did agree on the fundamentals of teaching."
This interview question allows you to demonstrate your ability to be a self-starter. Show the interviewer that you are a motivated individual by telling the interviewer about a specific time that you took the lead on a demanding project. Include details of your project timeline, which you led, or what you had to teach yourself for the project to be successful. Be sure to complete your answer by telling the interview what the outcome was.
"We recently had a major inventory count requested of us by the corporate head office. At the time, our manager was away on holiday. No one quite knew where to start or who should take the lead. I took the initiative to lead my co-workers through the inventory project. I taught myself the tracking software in a short amount of time and created a schedule for the inventory counts, so everyone knew the expectations. We completed the project three days ahead of schedule! It was a great success."
"I was recently tasked with changing our health benefits provider. Completing this project was crucial to our employees and our bottom line. I made a lot of calls and RFQs, and spent a lot of time hearing proposals to make the best choice before enrollment time."
"We recently switched over our entire leadership team. During the process, corporate decided to change our medical benefit plans. I took the initiative to manage the culture during this time by reaching out to all associates individually to gain their feedback on what changes they would like to see. I explained some possible options and gained their feedback for the new leadership team. With the day to day responsibilities of being an HR manager demanded strong time management and initiative. However, I am proud to have led the associates through a seamless benefits transition while gaining strong feedback on leadership changes."
"The first time I was awarded lead marketer on a big client project, comes to mind. I had to lead the initial intake calls, be sure to ask the right questions, and correctly relay the information to my marketing team. If anything went wrong, it fell on my shoulders so, for that reason, I worked double time, and triple checked everything before it went out to our client."
"Last year, corporate was renovating my store to match the new ones across the country. As soon as it came up that they'd need team leads for each department, I asked for the job. I was chosen to spearhead making their vision a reality, give store #21 its unique twist on that vision, and manage a group of 12 in the department. The nine months spent in transition was a blur of to-do lists, meetings, and collaboration. I am very proud of my team and the role I played in creating and executing that vision."
"I was responsible for rolling out an entirely new sales territory from scratch. We had zero name recognition and no clients in that region to point to as references. It was a daunting task. I developed a plan of attack by reading what other high-growth tech startups had successfully done in a B2C model. Next, I identified the notable names in the area that would make us an influencer in the space if we partnered. Finally, I began digging in, calling everyone and anyone who would sit down and talk with me. It took a lot of legwork, overcoming objections, but it ultimately proved effective, and that territory is now one of the top producing markets for the organization."
"While on the curriculum team, I volunteered to lead the entire rewrite of third, fourth, and fifth grade Spanish lessons. We had previously agreed upon targets that we wanted to keep, to stay in line with the goals of the middle and high school teachers, but beyond that, I was responsible for creating the key lessons that all teachers would use and with connecting them to the state standards. This project was a huge undertaking, and I recruited a few fellow teachers to help. I delegated the work, choosing the teacher's workload based on their strengths and favored tasks, and then took on the rest for myself, along with overseeing and compiling all of the collaborative work. While it took the entirety of the summer, when it was finally complete, we had an incredible meeting going over it all, talking about the upcoming year, and everyone was excited. What was even more rewarding was seeing the plans in action, both in my classroom, and hearing about the successes other teachers were having as a result of their own."
The interviewer would like to know more about your learning methods and level of discipline. Thinking back to your education, high-school or post-secondary, how did you ensure that your work was completed thoroughly and on time? - Perhaps you are a visual learner who utilized images to recall information. - Some students prefer to listen to music while studying - Researchers know that some students are kinesthetic learners, better-committing data to memory when they move or use hands-on tools. - Flashcards and charts work well for students who think more logically. - Studying in a group, or a social setting is helpful for some; while, it may hinder others.
"I prefer to learn at an independent pace where there is little pressure from others to absorb important information in a way specific to their learning styles."
"I am very much a visual learner. While completing my business administration diploma, I watched a lot of online tutorials, for instance. This method helped me to commit particular steps to memory. For example, this method of studying helped me a great deal when learning advanced Excel techniques. I was a diligent student."
"As a student was always on the move. If I could listen to an audiobook while running on the treadmill, I could nail the book review the following day. I have a high amount of energy which lends itself well to my energetic management style."
"I am a creative individual and, as such, I have to see my work in action before I can fully execute. Even as a student, I would make up make-shift storyboards in my dorm room. I always put extra effort into y creative school projects. This area is where I stood out, academically. I guess I chose the right career path, didn't I!"
"I am a social person by nature. In school, I created a study group of eight. We would meet at a local coffee shop and study together, bounce ideas off of each other, and have friendly debates on the material. Now, when learning a new job, I will go to a location like a Starbucks, where there are some buzz and energy around me."
"In my current position, I had to memorize over 1,000 SKU's from our product catalog. Because I connect to learning kinetically, I created flashcards for myself. I studied this way in college as well and found it very helpful."
"As a teacher, I tend to encourage a variety of learning methods. I consider myself a dynamic learner, and I know that many of my students are as well. This understanding means that you cannot put them into a box and expect one method of learning to resonate with everyone. For this reason, I create learning stations in my classroom. As a child, this is how I learned the best as well. College was great for this, with a balance of desk work, labs, and practicum."
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