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Answering Leadership Questions

Ace 1000s of Interview Q&As

How do you react when your team misses a deadline?

Missed deadlines are never a good situation and can reflect poorly on you as a leader. The interviewer would like to understand better how you react to disappointment when plans do not go your way.

Rather than just telling the interviewer how you react, consider giving a story example of a time when your team missed a deadline and walk the interviewer through the action that you took.


Answer Example

"My team is highly efficient, and we rarely miss a deadline. When we do, it's surprising. We had a very challenging client last year who made a significant amount of changes throughout the entire project. These changes caused us to miss our deadline. I took action after that to ensure a better client onboarding process. This new process made sure we dug deeper with each client at the start, which has resulted in fewer mid-project changes."


"When my team misses a deadline, it is disappointing. On the odd occasion that this has happened, I first ask my team for feedback. I want to know what I could have done better, as a leader, to make sure we hit our goal. Then, I ask them to look internally and tell me what they honestly feel they could have done differently. I prefer a collaborative approach to these types of conversations."


"We reach deadlines as a team, and we miss deadlines as a team. I truly believe that. When a deadline passes, I look at how we could have moved better as a machine, to make the delivery happen on time. I do not react negatively to my team members, but I do use situations like this as learning and coaching opportunities."


"Our office is highly collaborative so, when we miss a deadline, we all take accountability. As the leader, I need to be accountable for the project as a whole, and for that reason, I always call the client to let them know of any hiccups we are having along the way."


"There are very few deadlines that my team has missed. We are a great mix of personalities, and we will all stay late, if needed, to support each other. I do recall a situation last year when we did not get our annual inventory count submitted on time. There were technical glitches with a few of the scanners, so employees had to share scanners. We worked at a fast pace, but also supported each other, yet we still missed the target. I congratulated my team on pulling together, and then we made a plan to ensure full preparation, should that situation happen again."


"My sales team takes it pretty hard when they miss a deadline, mainly because they are a group of highly competitive individuals. I don't need to be hard on them because they are hard enough on themselves. What I will do is take the situation as an opportunity to better myself as a leader, and strengthen them as a team, through a lesson or professional development opportunity."


"As a teacher, it is important that I never place blame on my students for a deadline that I missed, or a deadline that I missed because I was rushing through a module, for instance. Education is a team effort, but I am the class leader. For that reason, if a deadline is missed I will always reflect internally, first."

Accounting Clerk

"I'm great at meeting deadlines. I have a planner that I live by and as soon as I get a task, I break it down into manageable pieces and tackle them one at a time. I ensure that I always turn in my projects early if not on time."

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