Interview Question: Discuss a Time You Didn’t Meet Expectations

Nilda Melissa Diaz
By Nilda Melissa Diaz, Career Advice Contributor Last Updated: December 07, 2022
Describe A Situation Where You Did Not Meet Your Supevisors Expectations

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The more prepared you are for a job interview, the more likely you are to clinch that job offer. In today’s market, that means mastering the art of answering behavioral interview questions. To start with, it is important to note how these questions differ from traditional interview questions, which typically seek to provide the interviewer with factual information about the interviewee’s past experiences and stages of professional development.

Behavioral questions are process questions. This means that instead of asking to get a specific result, they are posed to give insight into how you solve problems, what methods you are likely to fall back on, and what results these methods are likely to bring about. They also allow potential employers to gain indirect insight into your standards for professional conduct and other aspects of your working style that are less visible through traditional questioning.

When crafting an answer to the ‘Describe a Situation in Which You Found That Your Results Were Not Up to Your Professor’s or Supervisor’s Expectations. What Happened? What Action Did You Take?’ prompt, it is important to note that this is part of a group of related questions about how you deal with work that doesn’t turn out quite the way you expect. The key with all these questions is to emphasize how your actions resolved the situation. Structuring that answer using the STAR method provides you with the key elements that allow you to be sure the answer is concise, memorable, and detailed.

How to Answer the ‘Describe a Situation in Which You Found That Your Results Were Not Up to Your Professor’s or Supervisor’s Expectations’ Behavioral Interview Question

1. Pick Your Best Example

Find a situation where you are clearly answering the prompt by showing how your work failed to hit the mark, but select the exact situation by looking at the company’s needs and goals and finding an example that relates to either their approach or the work they do. That way, when you show your results, they apply directly to the company’s goals or mission without straying completely off topic.

2. Practice Your Delivery

Smooth delivery, without repeating details or adding excessive tangential discussions, is the key to landing answers to behavioral interview questions without sounding awkward or forced. Once you have an example and an approach worked out, you want to practice until you can deliver the answer like an elevator pitch: smoothly, effortlessly, and with a clear direction. While talking to yourself may feel awkward, it is a great way to work out what you want to say and how you want to say it.

3. Organize With the STAR Method

The STAR method for answering behavioral questions ensures that you cover all the aspects of the answer that your interviewer is likely to be looking for. It works like this:

  • S or T: Situation or task. This first step means spelling out the details of the situation, and that also means making sure you are using a single, clear example and not a generalized set of statements.
  • A: Action. What did you do? Be specific, and concentrate on actions that yielded changes or results. Show your steps, and be sure to highlight where you needed others to pitch in.
  • R: Results. What happened? How do you know the results you obtained were directly caused by the actions you took? What responses/reactions did you get from the other people involved in the situation?

Using this model to build your answer ensures that your interviewer will have no trouble seeing what you are communicating in your answers to behavioral interview questions.

4. Show Both Sides of the Conflict

While you want to accept the responsibility for your own work that the question implies, it is also important to show an understanding of why the performance in question was not up to standards, because that also demonstrates that you have learned from your attempt to resolve the issue. This is an important step to take in this kind of interview question and answer, because it helps to demonstrate that you are not going to repeat the mistake.

Sample ‘Describe a Situation in Which You Found That Your Results Were Not Up to Your Professor’s or Supervisor’s Expectations’ STAR Interview Answer

During my last semester in college, we had to take a capstone experience class to prove that our overall understanding of our field and its professional requirements was up to standard set forth by the university. The course revolved around a single research project, the topic of which the professor had to approve. The first time I tried to get approval for my project, it was shot down, and I could not figure out why, so I approached the professor for more feedback and learned that the kind or research I wanted to conduct would not be supported by the university because of time constraints. By asking a few key questions, I was able to restructure the project to explore a similar, but less time-consuming question, and that let me save a lot of time on my work while coming into line with expectations that the professor had in mind.

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