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Tell me about a time when you took charge of a situation but the outcome was disappointing.

1 of 30 Leadership Interview Questions and Answers Written by Rachelle Enns

Updated August 5th, 2018 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
How to Answer

Interviewers understand that leaders will have a failed efforts now and then. What they want to know is that you can recognize those failures, learn from them, and enthusiastically move on.

Think about a time when your leadership plan didn't go as desired. Be sure to tell the interviewer what you learned from the scenario as well as what you would do the next time.

Professional Answer Examples
Answer example

"When I first joined my current company, I had big plans to overhaul the existing sales team and send them on a business development workshop weekend. Most of the employees ended up quitting because they didn't understand what this growth opportunity would have allowed them. Looking back, what I should have done was build the stronger rapport with my new team before sending them to a weekend workshop. They felt it was a punishment of some sort which wasn't the case at all. I learned my lesson, hired some stellar sales staff, and forged ahead! My new team ended up gaining strong momentum and finished the year 124% above budget."

Answer example

"I took control of our company's most recent hiring fair, in the absence of our HR Manager, as she was on maternity leave. It was not as successful as previous hiring fairs and, despite my best efforts, I didn't see the results that I was hoping. I will continue to learn the recruiting field and won't give up despite this disappointment."

Answer example

"We had a last minute order come through from a customer, but our material planner/production scheduling manager was out sick. I tried to get everything planned correctly for her, but we ended up having to do an unplanned changeover because we ran out of a part that was needed to continue. She was slightly mad at me, but she loves me overall so it will be alright."

Answer example

"I took charge of migrating our mail service provider to a new, much better one. However, in the process, we ultimately lost one of our mailing lists in the migration. Apparently, this was a huge problem and disappointment, but it taught me to always back everything up and move extra carefully, even on a tight deadline. Luckily, the mailing list was on the backend of our website, so I was able to recover the list. Also, it gave me an opportunity to become more familiar with the backend of our site, so there were more lessons learned than figurative tears shed."

Answer example

"I asked to take charge of our spring merchandising display. Underestimating how challenging the job is, it was a bit of a flop. My boss was nice about it, and we worked together to make it better. We now hire out the task to a professional merchandiser."

Answer example

"The 'lunch and learns' that I created were effective the first few times, and then flopped. The team morale was so low that it became apparent that everyone needed to use their lunch breaks to disconnect from work so they could be more impactful overall. Looking back, I would have scheduled them every month rather than each week to avoid this type of burnout."

Answer example

"I took charge of planning a 3-day camping trip for our high school seniors. I truly underestimated the scope of work and planning. Quickly falling behind, I recognized that I bit off more than I could chew and ended up recruiting another teacher to help me plan the trip."

Written by:

Rachelle Enns
Rachelle Enns is a job search expert, executive headhunter, career catalyst, and interview coach. Utilized by top talent from Fortune companies like Microsoft, General Electric, and Nestle, she helps professionals position themselves in today's competitive digital marketplace. Rachelle founded Renovate My Resume and Executive Resume Solutions, two companies focused on helping job seekers get their edge back. She helps everyone from new graduates looking for their first placement, to CEO's who want more out of their career. Rachelle coaches students to executives on how to master the toughest interview questions and how to handle the most bizarre interview situations; all with confidence and poise. Rachelle trains other career coaches, recruiters, and resume writers, globally. A big part of her job is also spent coaching HR professionals on how to bring the human touch back into their interview and hiring process.
First written on: 12/08/2015
Last modified on: 08/05/2018

More Interview Questions

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Tell me about a time when you took charge of a situation but the outcome was disappointing.
Tasked with a project for the entire corporation, a large collaborative effort was needed to complete the project. At the halfway point of the project it was decided that the corporation was no longer going to move in that direction and instead were going to change efforts. The work that had been done prior was simply discarded. It was disappointing that the project was dropped, but was hopeful that sometime in the future it can be resurrected and completed.
Arranged a party function for kids .. A magic show but kids were more interested in games and pool.
Unfortunately never happened.
I took on the responsibility of organizing a group of ladies to serve as hostesses. My communication was not effective with all members in the group. I learn from the experience to make sure that each part of the team, had clear understanding on their roles.
I recently wrote a business plan for the development of the neuroscience service line complete with power point for presentation and the plan was declined by the senior leadership team on the basis on recent merger.
I was put in charge of an event last minute due to a family emergency with one of our counselors. I had little time to plan and prepare and felt that it effected the outcome of the event. I was disappointed in myself for not feeling confident regardless of the time spent planning.
When we ran out of a certain product and I had a try to recommend something closer similar to it but the client still didn't want to.
When we put RM in action plan and instead of correcting himself he took that negitively.
Small situation, but my first season as a Media Director, I needed all 42 on-roster athlete to report back to me with highlight clips in order to create a media tool.. The captains reported. There was four of them.
Client fell and sent to ER due to suspected CVA. CVA confirmed and client passed away.
Well I can tell you about my daughter and her friend she was in love with. I tried talking to her about them and tried to keep her away from him and she ended up moving out.
I had a difficult customer who was screaming and swearing in the dinning room and poking me in the chest!
Don't remember any situation which outcome was disappointing.
Rolled out release all program to all associate expected better results from customers.
Example used before of credit controller but since leaving, her attitude has changed because she isn't getting the expected 1 on 1 focus she needs for development.
When I came back into the classroom after being the School Improvement Coordinator there were some adjustments. I was selected to have the Title I teacher team with me for a couple of hours a day rather than pull out students. She wasn't on board with this idea. She didn't even want to give it a try. We ended splitting the difference with and occassional pull out but more often keeping the students in the room.
I had placed a child in respite care to get break away from family to eliminate conflict in the home. Child did eighty percent better in respite returned home and broke sliding screen door.
Recent Company I was working for was not making profit, so I sat down with some numbers to try and obtain a break even company turn over. We reached the turnover but the end of month profit was still a loss. I went back to analyse my budget workings to the actual, only to find the cost of goods was higher. Mainly in preparation for an insurance van the following month.
During an IEP, I shared the teams solution and although the leader, knew our solution and led us to believe we would be supported, we were not and the solution was rejected. I was disappointed that we were not supported in spite of the previous conversation.
I tried to solve a staffing problem, but it wasn't my role to do so.
I had the opportunity to participate in the Galileo learning leader meetings last year and found them profoundly impactful. This year however, a different set of individuals were chosen to participate and this was disappointing since we wanted to continue the work we had started the previous year. I approached the problem head on but in a respectful manner which stated my concerns and questioned how this decision was made. I requested that the situation be revisited and was told that the decision was final, though in retrospect not well-thought out. I thanked them for their answer and moved on.
A family wasn't prepared to stay in a SNF setting due to previous experience. Past experience gave an aversion. I was only able to get the family to stay one night.
When we reposses cars, sometimes we find them before the repo company, found a car and everyday we would see it. Call it in and then by the time the repo company got there it would be gone.
Last quater end - made numerous sales activities - due to festivities and festivals our product sales did not pick up well.
When I had the floor of a science project, I got sick, and requested a team member to take over my position. So later, when I recovered, I saw the project, and I was disappointed with the outcome.
Speaking out on behalf of the team and then they did not back me.
I recently finished my weekly tasks early. I could see everyone was snowed under with work so I used my skills as a minute taker to start and finished the monthly report before its deadline. Unexpectedly, your supervisor needed the monthly report early for an important meeting with the Director, and unfortunately the reports I had typed up was the wrong notes. My supervisor thanked me for my initiative even though they were the wrong note but this saved him from scrambling to get the retrieve the notes.
Work has a bad days as its has good days.
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