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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?

1 of 15 Scenario Based Interview Questions and Answers Written by Rachelle Enns

Updated on January 25th, 2019 | 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

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.

Professional Answer Examples
Answer example

"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!"

Answer example

"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."

Answer example

"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."

Answer example

"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!"

Answer example

"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."

Answer example

"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."

Answer example

"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."

Stage Manager
Answer example

"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."

Sales Associate
Answer example

"I am a strong goal-setter and have a proven ability to meet deadlines. For example, in my previous position I was asked to sell 75% of the xyz product 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 was able to exceed the goal. I ended up selling 90% of the product in the timeframe that was given to me. Part of my success was due to my ability to create a plan in an Excel spreadsheet and properly utilize the company's SalesForce system."

Bacteriology Technician
Answer example

"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."

CNC Operator
Answer example

"We had a major client deadline last month and at the last minute, 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. We put our heads together and everyone committed to working overtime shifts. We worked throughout the night and hit the deadline with an hour to spare! Everyone was thrilled with our teamwork and performance."

Answer example

"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."

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: 10/17/2016
Last modified on: 01/25/2019

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