Before your interview, make a comprehensive list of your achievements. Perhaps you have received individual awards or accolades. Think of the value you added when working on a team project. Maybe you had your research published, won a raving performance review, or exceeded a sales goal. These are all great examples of achievements!
"My greatest career achievement was being the youngest person ever awarded a sales management position at my current company. I worked very hard for that promotion and my dedication paid off."
"My most significant achievement so far has been my ability to graduate University top of my class while working full time. I am very proud of that achievement."
"My greatest achievement was winning the North American top manager award three years in a row. The award is nomination-based, with the final decision focusing on staff retention rates, production rates, and tenure."
"I would say my greatest career achievement to date would be having launched a career in both sales and marketing, leveraging my top salesperson status to leap into marketing. I've been able to utilize my sales knowledge to launch multiple highly successful, revenue-generating campaigns."
"My greatest accomplishment is the promotion I received last year to department general manager. I began in part-time sales and had managed the third largest department in the store while being the youngest ever to do so!"
"My greatest career accomplishment was achieving the fastest promotion in the organization's history. I was not only proud of myself but also received accolades from the VP of Sales in front of the entire company, which was an extraordinary moment."
"In my current district, they were doing a referendum and proposed cutting the elementary Spanish program to save money. The parents of my students rallied around me and made such a ruckus at all the board meetings that the Spanish department remained intact. The fact that my students and their parents loved the program so much, made me feel so special."
The interviewer would like to know if you are the type of employee who would be proactive if you noticed room for change. Think of some ways you have made an impact at work. When you see something that could be improved, do you take action? Provide an example that shows you have a high level of engagement, and the required confidence to recommend a change.
"In my most recent position I implemented a work-share program when profits were declining. It was an answer to pending layoffs, and although it temporarily cut hours back for our warehouse staff, it saved us from having to make layoffs."
"In my most recent position, I suggested that we eliminate the use of fax machines by better utilizing our company technology and shared servers. I calculated the cost-savings for my boss, and it turns out that it saved us over $500/month on paper. Not to mention the positive environmental impact."
"I implemented a suggestion box regarding workplace safety initiatives. The employees were full of great ideas about how to continually improve our safety standards."
"When I started my current position, the company did not have an organized email marketing system or organized list of subscribers. I proposed compiling our current customer list and rolling out an email marketing campaign that would connect them with our blogs, different sales initiatives, and continue to grow our e-commerce efforts. Over the course of three months, I built out our subscriber list, increased that base from 426 to 1754 and have seen e-commerce sales correlate with that increase."
"In my previous role, I was responsible for merchandising our department's floor. I decided it would be more cohesive to also collaborate with the surrounding departments, and pitched the idea to the other managers and staff. They loved it, so I was responsible for leading a team to collaborate on a bi-weekly theme and work together to develop and execute that vision."
"I was part of creating and implementing a cohort of employees to suggest, plan, and execute company-wide issues that needed addressing. For instance, we identified that we needed a better, formal mentorship program for new hires. So, we created one. We crafted guidelines, gained approval from the executive team, and implemented the changes."
"One example that I'm particularly proud of is the immersion program that I helped spearhead and implement. We work as pen pals with a local school that has a dual language program, and one day per year, we go and spend a day in their classroom that is conducted 80% in Spanish. The kids love the social component, and learn so much."
The interviewer wants to see that you are self-aware and understand the type of manager or employer that brings out the best in you. Some individuals prefer a close working relationship with a lot of accountability, while others prefer space and autonomy. If you are unsure of the management style of the interviewing company, try to leave your answer as open as possible. You can certainly ask the interviewer to describe their management style.
"I have worked with a wide range of personalities and management styles with great success. If I could express a preference, I feel that I am best with a manager who allows me autonomy while still investing time in me through mentorship and training. Can you describe the management style here?"
"I work best with managers who are highly communicative and approachable. I don't enjoy working in a hierarchy based environment as I find it does not offer room for new ideas and creative thinking. How would you describe your management style?"
"I prefer managers who give me an assignment and let me run with it. I don't like to be micro-managed, no do I enjoy having to micromanage my team. I much prefer collaborative environments where trust is present."
"I believe I do best under a manager who sees themselves as a teacher or mentor to me. They want to dictate what I do but also involve me in seeing the big picture. I want someone who strives to help me grow into the marketing professional I aspire to be in the future, someone who gives me leeway where they see my potential to rise to the occasion, without leaving me to flounder out on my own."
"I like a manager that is interested in nurturing their employees. I don't need hand-holding, but I like when my manager takes an interest in me and encourages my drive for growth and development. My manager could encourage me by offering to be a resource, connecting me with other resources, and the like."
"I have had a lot of different types of managers, but I have found the most success when I am given some latitude to make the job, sales pitch, and process my own. I value coaching and mentorship and am accountable to the manager, my goals, and the organization's sales targets as well. With freedom, I find I can be the most successful. That said, I'm quite adaptable and can make any situation work for me."
"I thrive most in a collaborative, team-focused environment. I work well in a team environment when all of the Spanish teachers are working together to build great content, lessons, and means of getting through to our students. When the department head is supportive of our goals, helps us think of things we haven't considered, and push us to continue to do better, I feel I grow as a teacher."
You spend so many waking hours in the workplace that conflict between co-workers can happen. How you handle conflict is what the interviewer would like to know. This question is not an opportunity to start venting about your current workplace culture. An interviewer wants to see that you will take accountability for conflict whether the occurrence is considered your fault, or not. Handling workplace conflict tactfully, and with grace, should be the only option. Give a clear example of a time when you professionally managed workplace conflict.
"My style of conflict management is upfront, yet - I swiftly move on. In the five years that I have worked for my current company, I have only come across one instance of conflict. One of my staff members did not show up for their shift, so I was forced to cover their shift. Because of this, I missed my daughter's dance recital. I was upset about it but wanted to do my part as a team player. The next day, the delinquent employee came in and didn't say a word. He didn't apologize to me or thank me for my time. I approached him and told him how his actions impacted my day. He did not respond how I wanted; however, I let it go after I said my part. You cannot change the actions of others, but you have to take responsibility for how you handle your side."
"One point I learned when obtaining my Business Admin degree is that conflict is often a symptom of poor communication, so when conflict arises in the workplace, I am sure to address the situation by starting at the root of the issue - communication breakdown. With most things in life, I like to address conflict upfront rather than let them fester into a more significant issue. Speaking to someone openly, while making sure they don't feel as though you are attacking them, can yield excellent results, I find."
"I start by identifying the possible reasons for the conflict, poor communication, absence of required materials, employee morale being down, etc. From there, I talk directly with the persons conflicting to find solutions and get everyone back on track."
"I feel that I stay out of conflict for the most part. I am happy to be involved in a debate or intellectual set of differences, but when people start taking it personally or attacking one another, I remove myself from the situation. I love to collaborate and am always up for a friendly debate, however!"
"I'd say that conflict makes me uncomfortable but is entirely necessary at times. I try to stay out of it and let my coworkers handle it themselves since there is something to be learned from hashing it out without interference. That said, I am always paying attention to be sure that it doesn't go too far. When necessary, I am sure to step in and mediate, telling the parties to take a bit to cool off before we dive back in. I feel that this has been very effective for me in the past and it's something I will continue to do as a retail manager."
"In a previous role, another employee and I seemed to be clashing. Nothing overt or truly problematic, but we worked together frequently, and it was becoming toxic. Rather than let it fester, I asked to speak with her for a quick minute. We grabbed a conference room and talked. We aired out any grievances we had and quashed them right there. We went on to be great teammates and ultimately became friends outside of work as well."
"There will always be creative differences among teachers regarding our philosophies on teaching, or homework. Anything you could disagree on- we do! However, I like to approach any conflict about teaching philosophies as an opportunity to explain my perspective, why I believe what I do, and let them do the same. This way, I can potentially learn from them. It is also important to remember, both the most senior teachers and the newest hires have something important to contribute."
Before answering scheduling questions, it's important to be clear on the interviewer's expectations. If you haven't had a chance to clarify their scheduling needs, now would be the perfect time to ask! Consider asking, 'What are the scheduling expectations for this position?' If they expect you to work 12 hour days, it would be important for you to know that before you respond with, 'Absolutely! No problem!' You want to be sure that you can meet their expectations. If it turns out their schedule expectations won't work for you, think about what you CAN offer and see if you can meet in the middle. It's much better to discuss these things in an interview than for you to commit to a schedule that won't work for you. Keep in mind that, in most states, an employer cannot demand that an employee work more than 44 hours per week.
"I am available for full-time work which is preferably 8-5 Monday to Friday. I am happy to be a team player and work some overtime, as required. Will these hours meet your expectations?"
"If you need overtime in this role, I am happy to accommodate whenever I can. My only restriction is that I cannot work Wednesday nights as I have an evening course those days."
"I am willing to work overtime. How much and how often are the first questions that come to mind. I firmly believe that downtime, or personal time, is essential to recharging your batteries and staying focused. I encourage my employees to do the same."
"In a salaried role such as this, I don't expect a strict 40 hour per week schedule, but I also know that I'm looking for a work-life balance. As needed, I'd be available to dedicate more time to the team, while hoping to preserve that balance. Would there be any other instances of overtime I should be aware of?"
"In retail, I anticipate working over 40 hours per week, especially around the holidays. That said, that comes with some limits as I do value my work-life balance. Could you share with me the expectations for this role?"
"I am looking to retain my current schedule as much as possible, which is Monday through Friday from 8:00 - 5:00. I understand with sales that there will occasionally be times when we need to put in more hours to get a deal closed or a quota met. I intend on making those moments happen, putting in the extra hours to get the sale is something I'm 100% on board with."
"As a teacher, we don't leave our work - ever. So, while the school day may be from 7:45 to 3:00, I take my job home with me on nights and weekends. Not to mention, I am currently a soccer coach at the district high school, too, so I am no stranger to long days and nights. I fully dedicate myself to my job and students."
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