Scenario Based Interview Questions

15 Questions and Answers by

Rachelle Enns is an interview coach and job search expert. She works with candidates to perform their best in employment, medical, and post-secondary admission interviews.

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Tell me about a time that you almost missed a deadline. How did you ensure your project was completed on time?

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Scenario Based Interview Questions & Answers

  1. 1.

    Tell me about a time that you almost missed a deadline. How did you ensure your project was completed on time?

      How to Answer

      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.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "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!"

      Rachelle's Answer for an Admin Interview

      "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."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Manager Interview

      "We had a significant production deadline for a client and were in the middle of it when one of our most significant pieces of equipment failed. Instead of freaking out, or telling the client we would not meet the deadline, I pulled in some late-night favors from our mechanical department and stayed all evening with them. The issue finally came to an end around 3 AM. I am a doer, and I knew that one all-nighter would be much better than letting a client down."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Marketing Interview

      "This had never happened to me before, where I completely forgot about a client until a week before their first project phase was due. I was baffled by how I could have missed it, but I did. I calculated how many hours of work I needed to put in to catch up, divided those by seven days in the week, and worked that many hours overtime for the week. I delivered a great product, and on time, but wow - lesson learned!"

      Rachelle's Answer for a Retail Interview

      "I ran out of time on a shift while I was doing the mannequin merchandizing. Technically, this is a shared responsibility. However, I felt as though I was letting the team down since I was the one who started the mannequins. So, rather than pass the buck to the next shift, I decided to stay on the floor, after clocking out, to finish the merchandising. This effort allowed the team to continue what they were scheduled to do, while also demonstrating my commitment to the team."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Sales Interview

      "At the end of the year, we had a big target still looming over our heads that we needed to hit for the company to bonus out. I felt especially under the gun because I had a customer who was ready to buy a lot of inventory if we could source it correctly. While everyone was heading home for the holidays, taking their scheduled time off, I was staying late each evening and working at home to source their inventory. It was a tight timeline, but I knew everyone depended on me closing these sales. Due to the extra hours both in and out of the office, I was able to close the month at 125% to goal and bonus-ed out as a result. It was dicey up until the last unit was a "yes" and in transit, but it got done on the 31st of December."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Teacher Interview

      "When writing curriculum, I noticed that the lesson plans had gaps in them and it wasn't a cohesive flow. We were close to turning in a year-long set of curriculum with discrepancies in it. I spent my own time bridging the gaps and writing the lessons that seemed to be missing. We cut it close to losing the deadline, but I was able to get it all wrapped up just in time, and our product was much better for it."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Stage Manager Interview

      "I always meet deadlines because I am extremely organized and do not wait at the last minute to get started on projects. I use lists and calendar reminders to ensure I do not forget anything and I review these lists daily."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Sales Associate Interview

      "I am a strong goal-setter and have a proven ability to meet deadlines. For instance, in my previous position, I was asked to sell 75% of the remaining XYZ product in 30 days because the product was going to be out of season shortly. After mapping out the amount of product I needed to sell per day, I exceeded my target. I ended up selling 100% of the product in 21 business days. Part of my success was due to my ability to map out a plan and properly utilize the company's Salesforce system to track my progress."

      Heather's Answer for a Bacteriology Technician Interview

      "I have been faced with short deadlines in the past but I make a point to keep my supervision updated on my progress through effective communication, reach out for assistance from my colleagues if needed but always give 110% in my work."

      Rachelle's Answer for a CNC Operator Interview

      "(Situation) Last month, we had a major client deadline. In the final week of our project, one of our lathes broke down. It was devastating to the team because everyone takes pride in their ability to get a job done on time. (Task) As the floor lead that day, and the most experienced in lathe troubleshooting, it was up to me to keep the team motivated. (Action) I called a quick floor meeting, where we put our heads together. Everyone committed to working overtime shifts until we met the deadline. I set to fixing the lathe while also calling a supplier to arrange for a temporary rental so that we could double up on the work. (Result) We worked the overtime hours and hit the deadline with only two hours to spare! The client was thrilled with our performance, and the situation drew us closer as a team."

      Samantha's Answer for an Auditor Interview

      "Yes, I'm fine with working long hours as long as it's understood that if it becomes habitual because another employee doesn't see the significance of the audit, we can train them on the importance. While I'm fine working long hours at certain times of the year, if it's because someone doesn't value my time, I'll say something. I have a family too, and they enjoy seeing me on a regular basis."

      1 Community Answer

      Anonymous Answer

      "In my previous jobs, I have not had an opportunity to work on a project. However, if I’m offered a position with UnitedHealth Group and was working on an assignment and my computer crashed I will keep calm and focus and call our IT department to retrieve the data and if not, I will redo my work as effectively as possible with autosave. I will work much overtime as needed to meet my deadline."

      Marcie's Answer

      Good job on providing a hypothetical example here! Offering to work overtime shows that you are committed, and it's great that you strive to remain calm and focused especially when something goes wrong. In your hypothetical example, you assume the IT department will be able to retrieve the lost data. What if they can't? Maybe mention that if they can't you will go ahead and re-do your work as efficiently as possible with auto-save on so you don't encounter the same problem again.

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