This question sounds general; however, the interviewer is still looking for a reply that relates to your career, or education. This question is not the time to tell them that leaving your wife was the hardest choice you've ever had to make! Leave that conversation over beers with friends. Use an example such as changing majors in university, quitting a job, leaving the family business, relocating to a new city for better opportunities, or even starting your own business. Be sure to highlight how things have worked out for you since making this challenging decision.
"The most difficult decision that I have had to make was changing my major from accounting to international business. I am so happy that I chose this path because I have built a very lucrative career; however, my family was not supportive of the decision because both of my parents are accountants and they wanted the same for me."
"The biggest decision I have ever made was to quit my last job and move to Denver. I have a lot of friends here, which made a choice a bit easier, but leaving my hometown to explore other opportunities was certainly a major decision in my life. I have zero regrets as I love this city. It's my home for good!"
"I was accepted into two major Universities at my time of application and would say that was a tough choice. I weighed my pros and cons, including location, reputation, my major, past alumni, and more. I am a bit of a nerd, so I made an Excel spreadsheet and pie chart to help me make the decision. Thankfully, I made the right choice in the end!"
"Choosing my major was probably one of the toughest career decisions I have made. I was on the fence between B2B Marketing and Consumer Behavior. As you know, I chose B2B Marketing, for which I am thankful that I did. B2B strategies are changing fast, and I love to learn new ways to position my clients in this incredibly competitive marketplace."
"Last year I chose to stop working for my parents, at their print shop. I wanted a job more fashion oriented, and a bit distanced from family, as you may understand. I helped them to find a replacement before leaving. It was a tough conversation because I wanted to tell them about my dreams without offending them at the same time. This decision has improved our relationship, and I am thrilled that I chose to put myself and career desires first."
"The most difficult decision I have had to make was to let go of the business I started and get back into the regular workforce. The business did well, but my partner and I had differing ideas about where to take the company. He offered to buy me out, and I accepted. I love being in software sales now and never look back on the choice I made, but it was one of the most challenging of my career."
"Initially, I started training to be a High School teacher and decided to switch to an Elementary focus. I knew there were job opportunities for male teachers in Elementary and my focus was to make myself more employable. I am still pleased with the decision that I made."
Workplace personality differences will almost always be present, whether you work with a large team or a small one. The interviewer would like to see that you can make the best of any situation, regardless of personality differences. Give an example of a time that you were a team player, despite a challenging personality clash. If you are newer to your career and do not have a work-related example, you can use one from your university or volunteer experience.
"While obtaining my business degree we were expected to collaborate in groups. These groups were often assigned, and I would find myself working with classmates whom I did not fully understand. I am very organized and had to work on a major project with another student who was disorganized, and simply uninterested. I kept my nose to the grindstone, doing the work expected of me, to the best of my ability. I could not force him to work harder so, instead, I decided that my delivery would shine. And, it did!"
"In my current role, I support the VP of Marketing. When she was on vacation this year, I was expected to spend much of my time assisting the Director of Sales in her absence. This particular individual did not give clear direction or feedback, which I found difficult. I asked for a meeting early on, and let him know that I work best when I am fully aware of the expectations and deadlines. We worked pretty well together after that conversation. I am a supporter of open conversations and nipping communication issues in the bud before they become major concerns."
"Before becoming a manager, the individual who trained me as an assistant manager was not my favorite person with which to collaborate. She was very brief in my training and seemed disengaged. It took many extra hours of my own time to learn my new role more thoroughly and to go through the training manuals the way they should have been. I remained dedicated, despite her lack of enthusiasm, and was awarded her position when she quit, shortly after. I do not believe in allowing other people's enthusiasm on the job to affect my own."
"In marketing, there are many different creative personalities present, often in the same department, or collaborating on the same project. One example that comes to mind was a junior copywriter I had to work with, on a complex project. She was inexperienced but did not ask for help or feedback on anything. When I provided feedback on her work, she became defensive. I thought perhaps it was the way I was delivering the feedback so; I asked her how she prefers the approach when her work needs improvement. She apologized for her behavior, and we came up with a great new way to approach constructive conversations."
"I had a co-worker who was quite rude to customers, which I had a difficult time understanding. When you work in retail, it's important to be communicative and friendly to everyone you come across. I did not say anything until the time came where I had to deal with multiple complains from my client. At that point, I asked my co-worker if there was a way that I could help her to enjoy the day-to-day client interaction just a little bit better."
"Earlier in my career, I worked with someone who would fake their cold call sheet and then become highly upset when he missed his weekly targets and monthly goals set by corporate. This situation was a challenging one because I knew the issue was simply the amount of effort he was putting in. I was not his manager and did not feel that it was my business to coach him. Instead, I minded my own business, maintained my workload, and blew my own goals out of the water!"
"For the most part, I have been able to get along remarkably well with my fellow teachers. Earlier on in my career, I did not get along very well with the teacher to whom I was the assistant. His teaching style was very abrupt, and he moved at too fast a pace for many of our IPP students. When I approached him about the situation, telling him what I had observed, he received it well. We made a plan together on how to make the classroom a more comfortable pace for all of the students."
Let's face it - we have all been in a situation where we find a co-worker, classmate, or even professor a touch intimidating. Show the interviewer that you have the smarts, and maturity, to recognize when this is happening, and the ability to overcome whatever factor is causing those feelings.
"I had a boss a couple of years ago who was very intimidating. I enjoy strong personalities; however, she didn't smile very often and was a bit flat with her emotions, which is sometimes hard to navigate. I don't think she meant to be, so I would remind myself before speaking to her, that she was human just like the rest of us."
"Earlier in my admin career, I had a couple of clients who would be very aggressive on the phone with their requests, and I would sometimes get tripped up on my words when they called. I made myself a telephone script related to those specific instances and memorized it. This script helped me to remain on track with my thoughts when those more intimidating clients would call."
"I have a great method that I teach my crew when they have to make cold calls or have a challenging conversation with an existing client. The trick is to practice, out loud, with someone else. Have that person throw possible objections out and then try to overcome them. Once you've had this conversation a few times in practice, it will be much easier in a real-life situation."
"As a marketing director, I often have to give presentations and pitches to groups of decision makers, who can be quite intimidating. I stand tall and remind myself to be proud of my work no matter what they may say or think. By doing this, I am oozing confidence, and the situation becomes so much easier. Also, I read that science has discovered "mirror neurons" in the brain. These neurons mean that people respond with similar facial expressions and demeanor so, if you are friendly and approachable, others will be as well."
"When someone intimidates me, such as an upset customer who is demanding a refund that I cannot give, I will focus less on how I am feeling and more about how they are feeling. I remind myself that they are possibly having the worst day ever. By empathizing with them, the situation becomes less scary, for sure."
"In my sales training, we learned a great deal about practicing comic visualization in intimidating situations. I have a few clients who are very alpha, and they are quite intimidating. I have used comic visualization such as picturing them as babies or dancing in a funny costume. It's silly, and possibly one of the oldest tricks in the book, but it works!"
"When I find myself face to face with an intimidating person - like an angry parent of a student, for instance, I work hard to validate their feelings. By agreeing with them whenever possible, we are often able to relate better to each other, making the overall situation feel a bit lighter."
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."
First impressions are everything, and there are many ways to make a significant impact on a new client. You can start by being attentive, researching them or their company before your initial meeting, and having a go-getter attitude. Show the interviewer your engagement level with clients and that you know how to make a lasting impression.
"My favorite way to make a lasting impression on a new client is to know their name and a little bit about them before our first meeting. When it shows that I prepared for our initial meeting, it tells the client that I care about our working relationship."
"I am on the phone quite often so one of the ways I show new clients that I am interested in them is to repeat their words back to them to show my understanding. I also think it makes a huge difference when I am prepared with strong product knowledge and answer the phone with a smile."
"Our new clients always receive a personal call from me where I let them know that we appreciate their business. I ask a few targeted questions so that I can better understand how we can exceed their expectations. From there, I take the information to my team. We most often blow our customers' expectations out of the water."
"New clients need to feel like they can trust you instantly, and, in my opinion, the best way to do that is to get to know them and show them that you care. I am a fantastic listener and will always deliver on a project early. This level of service is rare these days, and my new clients always comment on how refreshing my approach is."
"Most retail outlets are known for having low-performing employees, and I always aim to stand out from that stereotype. I like to get to know my customer, what they need, and ask if I can make further suggestions. Most of the time, my customers love the added input and help. This approach also makes my days more fun because I am making genuine connections with people versus treating them like just another customer."
"Sales professionals often get a bad rap for being untrustworthy. Knowing this, I approach my new clients in a way that will build instant trust. I keep my appointments, I am always 5 minutes early, and I will call them with updates on their orders before they feel the need to reach out to me."
"One thing that sets me apart from other teachers is that I book a one-on-one meeting with the parents of my students at the very start of the school year. We create a learning plan that will work for all, and I also ask questions that position me as the expert and also have the parents fully committed to their child's' learning. The rest of the year is better when communication goals become established from the start."
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