The interviewer wants to know how you handle pressure and situations that require you to think independently. Think back to a time when a project needed to get done or you had a problem with a client and your manager was away. Explain how you handled it with confidence.
If you have had a managerial position or higher, this question may be easier to answer since your role requires more decision-making responsibility. Think back to when a project didn't go according to plan and the decision you had to make to repair the situation.
Scenario Based Interview Questions
Discuss one important decision you made in your last role and the impact that decision had.
The interviewer wants to know how you handle pressure and situations that require you to think independently. Think back to a time when a project needed to get done or you had a problem with a client and your manager was away. Explain how you handled it with confidence.
"I had to address a problem with a customer when my manager was in a meeting. Normally, we give complaints such as this one to the manager, but this customer was incredibly upset over her experience. I felt that if I told her to wait it would make her feel like I didn't care. Since we screwed up on the product we sent her, I took full responsibility for it and explained how I would fix the situation. I ended up giving her a refund, and at the end of the call she thanked me for listening and said this was one of the best experiences she had with a customer service associate."
"In my last role, I was tasked with finding potential new vendors when it came to supplies and a couple of other small services such as secure recycling and coffee products. I did a great deal of research and took cost savings, service, and reputation into account. Once I decided on the changes to implement, I tracked our company's savings for three months, then presented those savings to the owner. Overall, my decisions saved us $25,000."
"An important decision I made was to leave my most recent position at the hospital during the covid19 pandemic. I had to choose between keeping my family safe, because I have members of my household with high risk issues, and continue working and possibly bringing the virus home. Although I would lose income, I decided it would be best to leave. If the position was a career based job, it would’ve made staying easier, because I would have the financial stability to stay out of my family’s home and keep them away from the virus. I don’t regret that decision, because it has made me strive for a career based position in law enforcement and not settle."Rachelle's Answer
Very well said! You articulate this difficult decision very well, while also showing immense strength in character.Was this answer helpful? Yes (2) or No (0)Thank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
Tell me about a time when you received criticism from your manager. How did you react to that criticism? How did you make improvements based on that criticism?
This question is another way for an interviewer to ask you what your weaknesses may be. When you are thinking about examples of criticism, it's best to show that you want to grow as an employee and that you can handle constructive criticism because it helps you learn and improve the quality of your work. Give examples that would not make you exempt from the role. For instance, if you are interviewing to be a bus driver, you do not want to say that your manager called you a terrible driver!
"I was instructed to create some presentations for our events. After my manager reviewed my work, some of the slides required the additional copy, and he had different design concepts in mind. He had a background in graphic design, and since I do not, I listened to his ideas and incorporated them. I thought they looked very professional and in the following presentations, I tried to include those design concepts."
"A couple of weeks ago my manager asked me to increase my typing speed. I did not think it was slow at all...about 60 words per minute, but he wanted me to speed up anyways. I have been taking typing tests at night to work on this skill. So far, I am at 72 words per minute."
"I was asked to create some presentations for one event. After my supervisor reviewed my presentation, some of the slides required additional copy. He had different design concepts in mind. He had great experience in presenting data, and since I did not, I listened to his ideas and incorporated them. I thought they looked very professional and in subsequent presentations, I have included those concepts."Rachelle's Answer
Great! It's perfect that you added in how you listened and incorporated change.Was this answer helpful? Yes (4) or No (0)Thank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
Tell me about a time your former manager or a coworker upset you. What did they do to upset you? How did you handle it?
This question gives you the opportunity to provide an example of how you deal with stressful situations. An employer wants someone who can handle challenging scenarios both calmly and professionally. Keep your answer positively-focused and be sure not to bad mouth anyone or give too many details that may deter from the central question, which is 'how did you handle it?'
"My colleague and I were assigned a presentation to work on together, and we split the work evenly. Unfortunately, my colleague didn't finish her half in time for the deadline. I was concerned because it reflected badly on me as well. I calmly communicated with my colleague a new plan that allowed us to finish just in time."
"I do not get upset very easily and the last time I recall feeling this way was last year when my manager blamed me for not sending an email that I indeed, did send. The communication was critical and could have cost us a client had I not sent the message; so I do understand the passion behind her reaction. However, she was simply looking in the wrong email folder. I showed her my sent folder, and she calmed down, later apologizing for her reaction."
"My coworker would always fall asleep during our overnight shift at the hospital, leaving me to do all the work alone. I confronted her about it one day and asked if there’s any way I could help her. She told me she never falls asleep and that I should mind my business. The following day I saw her sleeping again, so I called my manager and complained about it. My coworker was upset, but I was glad I spoke with her first and since it didn’t make a difference, I did what I felt was best."Rachelle's Answer
Oh, my goodness! This example made me laugh a bit, just imagining the audacity of your co-worker denying sleeping and then doing it again the following day! You did the right thing in this instance. Was there a resolution that you could also include? For example, how did your manager respond?Was this answer helpful? Yes or NoThank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
Describe to me your method of convincing others to see things your way.
The interviewer wants to see that you have strong persuasive skills. Think about your personality and how you present your ideas to someone else, in work and your personal life. Make sure you avoid words such as pushy and forceful. Explain that you offer facts and statistics and explain the results of your research to back up your thoughts, ideas, and opinions. Show that you can influence people through an inspirational approach versus bullying others to see things your way.
"When I would like others to see my way, I am sure to carefully lay out the ways that my idea will benefit them. I review those reasons, collect agreement from them, and then close them on the idea by having them agree that it's the soundest decision or choice."
"If I am passionate about something, and want others to see things my way, showing them my raw passion is the best way to do it. I get excited about my idea and tell them why it's exciting. Like a hype man at a concert. I want them excited about my idea!"
"A commitment to one’s job goes hand in hand with promoting the welfare of the organization and what’s best for it. Included in this is one’s own personal vision. In developing my own vision, I found it useful to use supervisors and other co-workers as sounding boards. In this way, I profit from their thoughts and experience while allowing them to evaluate and appreciate my perspective. Once co-workers know where you are coming from, the task of promoting ideas becomes much easier. Naturally, I don’t expect acceptance for all of my ideas, but thanks to the context provided by this kind of honest exchange with coworkers, it is much more likely my ideas will be better understood and evaluated on their merit."Rachelle's Answer
This is a very well crafted, and thoughtful response. 10/10Was this answer helpful? Yes (1) or No (0)Thank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
"My method is convincing people to follow the concept with the connection of facts and data. My speaking style is very convincing and mixes with data. It is easy for people to look through my lens."Rachelle's Answer
It sounds like you are very persuasive in your communication and that you back this persuasion with data. Nice approach! If you have an example of a time when you deployed this method in the workplace, it's an excellent opportunity to give a brief story-based example.Was this answer helpful? Yes or NoThank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
Tell me about a time that you naturally took on a leadership role without being asked. Did you enjoy being a leader? Were you happy with the outcome?
The interviewer would like to know if you have a natural ability and desire to be a leader, or if you prefer to be a follower. Being a leader gives us a different perspective and allows you to grow in your views. Explain that you enjoy helping others develop, while learning things yourself, and show that you are the type of leader that hopes to inspire others.
"We often work in small groups on a variety of projects, however; last month I was tasked to complete a project with a group of ten. I quickly realized that I was the most seasoned of the group and so it was natural for me to be the leader since I had the majority of the answers. I enjoyed that aspect of the work and earned compliments from my supervisor on the result. Everyone worked well together and knew their role."
"I do not consider myself a natural leader, however, when we recently had a new employee join the admin team, I took her under my wing. I wanted to see her succeed, so I took her out for lunch, explained the office dynamics, and encouraged her to ask questions. It feels terrific to share my knowledge."
"During college, I was assigned to a group project. I was the only person in the group who knew a lot about the topic, so everyone else in the group just sat back and expected me to do the work. Instead of doing the whole project alone, I divided up those topics I felt were most important and assigned them to the team to study and research. I reviewed the project once all assignments were complete. The project was an easy success, and the team worked great together."Rachelle's Answer
It sounds as though you are a true leader, unafraid to delegate. Your story example is terrific, and you execute the story structure wonderfully. If you want to add more detail to bring your story to life further, you could briefly mention which class, the topic at hand, how many members, etc...just a few notable details to grab the interviewers' attention even further.Was this answer helpful? Yes or NoThank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
Describe a time that you did not fit in. How did you ensure that you found a way to fit in and make yourself comfortable?
Each of us has a time in our life where we felt as though we did not fit in. Did you sit back and wait to fit into the group, or did you take the initiative when it came to your approach? Explain your personality in situations like this, and display your confidence when it comes to finding a way to fit in.
"I can be a rather aggressive, go-getter type while my more seasoned analyst had a quiet confidence. The senior analyst had his group of co-workers, and it seemed I did not fit in because of my youth and more aggressive approach. One day, I asked him if we could switch mentalities for the day. Approach things as the other person would, to see if we can better appreciate how each other works. In the end, we each learned shortcuts and new techniques and had a new found respect for how the other processes information and gets to the result. I feel that this forced us both to put on the other shoe and in the end, it created mutual respect."
"When attending University, I was significantly older than many of my classmates. I had my kids and then returned to my post-secondary education goals once they were school-aged. I decided that, rather than competing, I needed to become a bit of a parent figure to the other students, offering help and a warm smile when they needed it. I had a great time in University despite my mature student status!"
Tell me about a time that you had to resolve a conflict between two employees. How did you ensure that a resolution was made without hurt feelings?
This question is meant to see how you handle conflict in the workplace. If you don’t have an example of a time when you had a resolve a dispute between two employees, then give an example how you would hypothetically resolve the situation. The interviewer would like to see that you are thoughtful in challenging conditions and able to be the voice of reason when needed.
"I believe that it is important to address issues between colleagues when both parties have calmed down. I would make sure each person heard the other side, so both are acknowledged. Lastly, I would make sure a solution is provided to move forward. Also, I could bring someone from HR to sit in and listen as well. Those are the steps I would take if I had to mediate a conflict."
"There are often small conflicts between my production staff on matters of safety, quality assurance, and procedural issues. If left unattended, things will quickly escalate since we work in a high-stress environment. When I sense a conflict, I will call a meeting between the arguing parties. They don't leave my office until they can agree on a solution and shake on it. This approach works well, and I have yet to lose an employee over an unsettled argument."
"Two coworkers had a disagreement one day at work. I sat them both down and had them state their sides one at a time. Come to find out, it was just miscommunication, and they worked everything out."Rachelle's Answer
Good start! Be sure to bring this story to life by using the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method. This re-frame will ensure that your interviewer can follow along as an outsider of the story while picturing your leadership skills in action.Was this answer helpful? Yes or NoThank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
If you had a co-worker call in sick and you were asked to take over their project requiring overtime from you, how would you react? Where do you draw the line when it comes to being a team player?
The interviewer wants to see that you are willing to jump in and save the day when needed. Show your willingness to be part of the team but also explain where your limit is when it comes to putting in overtime hours, and meeting unreasonable needs.
"I will always choose to be a team player. If I had a co-worker call in sick, I would take over where I was capable. The only time I would draw the line would be if I felt I was being taken advantage of for my kindness. For instance, if they were purposefully being inefficient and expecting me to pick up the slack. For the sake of the company, I am always willing to go above and beyond expectations."
"I am happy to help, within reason. The only way I would draw a hard line was if I knew the person was faking it. I will not be taken advantage of but will always put my best foot forward and jump in when I am needed."
Describe to me a time when you made an error at work, and the impact your mistake made. How did you correct the mistake, and what did you learn from it?
Everyone makes mistakes; no one is perfect. The interviewer knows that too and is asking this question to see how you handle situations when you make mistakes. Give an example that demonstrates how you took responsibility for your error and fixed it. Also, what you learned from the experience as a result. Sometimes learning from our mistakes allows us to gain some valuable tools.
"Last month I made a financial accounts error where 4 of our vendors ended up not being paid on time. Our company faced some large fees for overdue payments. I stayed overtime that week to call each vendor personally. I owned up to the situation, explained the error, and negotiated the fees down. I learned from that error and have been conscious to not rush through my work since then."
"I do believe that no one is perfect all the time, even when you always carefully do your work, mistakes could happen. I am not afraid of making a mistake; I take a positive attitude to take the responsibility and action to fix my errors, and also one of the important things to me is learning from my mistakes by making my own checking styles, so next time I won't make the same mistakes anymore."Lauren's Answer
Your response is well-intentioned, but should be more specific. The interviewer wants to get to know your problem-solving skills, how you work under pressure, and a better understanding of your work style. I provided a hypothetical scenario below that may help you get started.
"(Hypothetical response) There was an instance when I did not meet a monthly sale’s goal. I addressed the issue by speaking with my manager. I explained that I tried my best, but I fell short. I am a positive person who can take responsibility for mistakes. My monthly sales goal impacted the department as a whole, but I devised strategies with my manager to get back on track for the next month. I learned that ownership of one’s mistakes is important, and doing all you can to become better will render positive results."Was this answer helpful? Yes (1) or No (0)Thank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
Discuss a time when you went above and beyond the call of duty. What did you do? How was it above your normal job requirements?
Think back to your previous projects in your current or past position. Did you exceed expectations on a project by doing additional research to provide more of a polished product? Maybe you helped a coworker out with some of their work? When a new co-worker started, did you volunteer your time without being asked to train them and show them the ropes? Tell a quick story related to how you shine in the workplace!
"I often go above the call of duty when it comes to patient follow-ups. Sometimes, they will forget to rebook with us before they leave so I will call them the following day and say "I don't want you to miss out on your next appointment time! Let's get you in!" They are always thankful for the reminder, and this extra step keeps our business running smoothly."
"I had one employee who was a favorite, struggling to understand some of the changes we made in our software program. The struggle was affecting his productivity. I did not want his job to be in danger, or see him quit out of frustration. I asked him if I could provide him with a few one-on-one training sessions during our lunch breaks. He agreed. After two weeks, he had the hang of the new system, and his performance improved exponentially."
"While working at the hospital as a registrar, I helped the housekeepers clean up shattered glass from the hallway. Although it wasn’t a part of my job, I wanted to ensure everyone’s safety. The housekeeper was thankful because he had a lot of work that already needed to be done."Rachelle's Answer
Your answer shows a willingness to help others and highlights your kind nature very well :) If you wanted to round this out with more engaging detail, that's certainly an option. However, you have stuck with the STAR framework quite well, regardless!Was this answer helpful? Yes or NoThank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
What would you do if a client asked you about a product or service and you were unsure of the answer?
The interviewer wants to know if you are an independent thinker with the ability to find answers for yourself, when necessary. Explain that you would take the time to try and figure out the solution, but you are not afraid to ask questions if you need to.
"If I had a client ask me about something that I didn't know enough about, I would find the answer for them before giving a potentially false answer. I am okay with admitting when I don't know something, and I love to learn new things. Of course, I would find the answer quickly by asking the appropriate person or finding it within the company's internal resources."
"My rule of thumb is never to say 'I don't know.' I always say 'I will find out.' This process of finding an answer could include researching online, or asking a more tenured administrative assistant for help."
"I would not say to the client I don't know, rather use this opportunity to learn about the product or service provided. Enough if it means doing extensive research, then getting back to the client or emailing from my side stating this product is used for x purposes."Rachelle's Answer
Wonderful approach! It's terrific that you would take this situation as a learning opportunity. Good reply.Was this answer helpful? Yes or NoThank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
What would you do if you were made aware of a co-worker being dishonest or stealing from the company?
Companies want to know they are hiring loyal employees. Make sure that you illustrate in your answer that you would do the right thing and represent the company for which you are working. If you have an example from a time this has happened to you, you can talk to the interviewer about it but avoid naming people outright or speaking poorly of anyone.
"I certainly would not consider myself a 'whistle-blower' in the workplace. If I found that a co-worker was stealing, or doing anything to harm the company, I would approach them directly to ask what was going on. There is a good chance of the situation being a simple misunderstanding. If it wasn't a misunderstanding and the co-worker was outright defiant with their damaging actions, then I would bring it, professionally, to the appropriate parties."
"If I knew that an employee was stealing from the company, I would report it to my manager. When employees steal, their actions put everyone at risk."
"I would confront the workers and inform them that I am aware of the situation. Then, I would let them know that I would have to report them it happens again."Rachelle's Answer
It seems you are responsible in the workplace and willing to put your neck out for the good of the employer/organization. In terms of law enforcement, most codes of conduct demand than any unethical actions be reported immediately, without warning. Do keep this in mind depending on the situation/environment where you are interviewing :)Was this answer helpful? Yes or NoThank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
"The companies that I have worked with so far had zero-tolerance policies for employees stealing from the company. I have always believed that I don't have an equivalent threshold towards people who are stealing from companies. So I would report the co-worker to my manager or supervisor."Rachelle's Answer
Reporting dishonesty as per the company's policies is a very smart approach to this question. If you have ever encountered a situation like this, it's an excellent opportunity to give a brief story-based example.Was this answer helpful? Yes or NoThank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
Tell me about a time that you were asked to collaborate on a project with a colleague whom you did not necessarily see eye-to-eye with. How did you ensure that you got along well and met your deadline?
Getting along with different personalities is especially vital in the workplace. Explain that you can be flexible and hear someone out even if you don’t agree with them. Showcase your ability to learn from others when you may not wholeheartedly agree with their perspective or approach.
"In my current office, the Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable departments have an inexplicable rivalry. It's a bit humorous to think about, but the rivalry exists. Every year-end we have to collaborate and, even though we don't necessarily get along, we put thoughts aside to get the job done. We aren't buddy-buddy, but we do deliver the other departments' needs on time and in a friendly manner."
"I was once assigned a regional sales manager, as their sales assistant and administrator for a major client project. Frankly, the woman was a nightmare. She would email me "orders" in the middle of the night, and then expect them to be done for her when she arrived in the morning. I maintained less of a work/life balance than I prefer to admit, but there was an end-date in sight, so I sucked it up and just went for it. When the project was over, I did request to my boss that we not be paired up again on future projects."
Tell me about a time you handled an incredibly difficult client. How did you come to a resolution with this person?
The interviewer would like to know more about the way in which you handle challenging clients and customers. Remaining level-headed and staying professional is what the interviewer is looking for in your example. Talk about a time when your excellent communication skills allowed you to handle a difficult client. If you haven’t had an experience with a problematic client, explain how you would feel out the situation if it were to happen.
"In my current position I am faced with challenging clients on a daily basis. I seem to always come to a good resolution by using my gift of gab. I ask questions and actively listen. A recent example would be when a very unhappy customer called in, wanting to speak with the manager. Our manager was away, and I was the only employee around. By listening and accepting responsibility for the company's actions, I was able to calm her down. We came to a solution that was great for everyone, and I was sure to follow up with her actively."
"I often get challenging customers on the phone, demanding to speak with the owner of the company. He is often traveling, and I have to tell them that he is unavailable. When I have an especially worked up customer, I kill them with kindness! It works nearly every time. I am understanding, and let their words wash off like they are nothing. I offer solutions such as email communication, leaving a voicemail, and more. All while remaining calm and kind."
Tell me about a time that you almost missed a deadline. How did you ensure your project was completed on time?
So you dropped the ball. It happens to the best of us. Think about how you made your situation “right.” Whether you asked for extra assistance, or put more hours in, explain how you did your best and took responsibility for your actions. The interviewer is not looking to hear that you never make mistakes. They want to know how you correct your course once you realize your deadline is in danger of being missed.
"Last week I was asked to complete a task that one of my colleagues left incomplete before they left on vacation. Although it wasn't my deadline, I felt responsible for it since it was our company's reputation on the line. I took the work home and completed it over the weekend. In the end, the client was very pleased with my work and my dedication landed me a small promotion!"
"Last month I was almost done updating our company directory when my computer crashed. Rather than be defeated and start over again, I called our IT department, with an SOS call, and gave them a deadline for retrieving the data. I knew they could do it! The document was retrieved quickly and handed in the work to our designers just in time."