Interview Question: Anticipating Problems & Developing Preventative Measures

Nilda Melissa Diaz, CPRW
By Nilda Melissa Diaz, CPRW, Career Advice Expert Last Updated: August 30, 2022

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Many jobseekers are intimidated by behavioral interview questions. Questions such as ‘Describe a time when you anticipated potential problems and developed preventative measures’ have been developed to assess your potential reaction to a specific situation. By discussing your past behaviors, the interviewer will be able to predict your future behaviors.

Depending on the interviewer, the question above may be phrased as ‘Have you ever predicted a problem and had to take preventative actions?’ Regardless of how the question is structured, you will need to provide a direct and mature answer that satisfies the interviewer’s expectations. This may sound immensely difficult, but there are effective and creative ways to prepare a professional answer to these questions.

Behavioral questions can be answered using the STAR method, a way to describe a specific situation from beginning to end. If you are faced with a behavioral question, the tips below will show you how to employ this unique and effective method of answering interview questions. Try memorizing these tips beforehand instead of trying to implement them on the spot during the actual interview.

How To Answer The Question: Tell Me About A Time You Overcame An Obstacle

1. Think of a Career-Related Answer:

Everyone has to solve a personal problem every now and then, but employers are more interested in your professional life. You are interviewing for a job, so you will probably want to provide an answer that highlights your ability to solve problems in the role you are interviewing for. For example, if you are interviewing for a job as a computer engineer, you may not want to use an example from your days as a barista. If you are interviewing for this position, provide an example involving software or computer assembly so that the interviewer knows that you possess the knowledge needed to perform the job.

2. Detail the Problem:

When your employer asks you this question, you will want to avoid giving a vague or general answer. If you are interviewing for the example role above (computer engineer), you would want to discuss the software involved, the other engineers on the team, and the technological process you used to solve the software issue. Just be as detailed as possible, and describe the situation using multiple perspectives.

3.Use the STAR Method:

Behavioral interview questions can be difficult to answer, especially if they are complex or unusual, but the STAR method provides a way to answer virtually any type of question. STAR involves doing the following:

  • ST, Describe the situation or task and the events that led up to it.
  • A, Talk about the actions you took and why you decided to take those specific actions.
  • R, Discuss the end result.

Try to include information regarding other individuals involved in the situation, as well as its impact on the entire project. Using the STAR method will ensure that you adequately answer every single aspect of the question.

4. Discuss What You Learned:

Employers want to hire workers who can not only solve problems but who can also learn from the problems that needed to be solved. This can be difficult, especially if you didn’t encounter many issues at your previous places of employment, but you will need to show that the problem helped you to become a better worker. For example, if you previously worked as a retail manager, and you noticed that you didn’t have enough items for the holiday season, you may have decided to order more in order to keep your customers satisfied and avert disaster. After you provide this example, talk about how you learned to personally examine the store’s inventory instead of always trusting the computerized system.

Tell Me About A Time You Overcame An Obstacle Example Interview Answers

In my previous role as a grocery store manager, I was in charge of managing a team of cashiers. The holiday season was approaching, and I realized that we would need to be faster and more efficient if we wanted to keep our customers happy. Unfortunately, the previous manager had employed a very inefficient system of balancing the registers and scheduling shifts that was still in use. After reviewing the schedule and accounting records, I decided to use a different method that involved scheduling more workers and always having an assistant manager on duty to help me balance registers. This led to customers getting checked out more quickly, and I did not have to divide my time between helping cashiers, balancing registers, and helping customers find items. My implementations were highly successful, and I was promoted to store supervisor the following month.

No matter what behavioral interview questions you encounter, utilizing the STAR method will always help you provide the right answer. Never attempt to make up an answer on the spot.

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