To get a handle on who you are in your professional life, interviewers want to know how you react to certain situations. It's one thing to undergo training to prepare you for various workplace scenarios, but another thing entirely to have proven knowledge of how you handle tricky incidents. For this reason, interviewers often utilize behavior-related questions such as 'Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision, but didn't have all the information needed.'
Traditional interview questions usually offer the opportunity to elaborate on your work history and education. Behavioral interview questions, however, strive to tease out answers about how you react to job-related speed bumps. Employers will assess how you handled prior events as an indicator of how you will find solutions to similar problems in the future.
For example, if an interviewer asks, 'Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision, but didn't have all the information needed' you should muster up a response that reflects how you handle difficult situations when put to the test.
Decision-making is a stand-by topic for behavioral questions, revealing how you analyze a situation with the tools you are given, and whether you are able to act quickly and keep a project rolling. This is your time to show your potential new boss how you approach problem-solving and learn from complications. By practicing answers to such questions, you can show up to your next interview prepared to leave a stellar impression.
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How to Answer the Question
Bring Up Any Relevant Professional Situation
Prior to your interview, make a list of times when you've had to call the shots in the workplace. For behavioral interview questions like this one, you can dig back into your work history and draw from almost any prior position. Since the goal here is to focus on your interpersonal skills with other employees or customers, your place of employment is far less relevant than how you handled the situation.
Use the STAR Method
A very helpful and highly advised method for preparing an answer is the STAR method. The key points in this method are as follows:
- ST– Situation or Task
- A– Action
- R – Results
To implement the STAR method, you must first identify the problem, which in this case is a lack of information. Then move on to describing the action you took to solve the problem, and the positive results that were achieved.
Identify the Problem at Hand
You may have encountered myriad times in which you were called upon to take a leadership role and make some executive decisions on the fly. However, don't be distracted by part of a question, or tailor the question itself to fit an answer you've already prepared.
In this example, the interviewers are not only eager to learn about your decision-making experiences, but they specifically want to know how you make decisions when you are missing key pieces of information. Be sure you address the entire question and don't merely offer half a response.
Never Focus on the Negative
You may have the perfect example, and it just might paint a very favorable portrait of your advanced problem-solving skills.
However, be sure to avoid a negative depiction of the other players in the scenario. Recounting how somebody else messed up by failing to provide needed information does not show your leadership skills. Instead, focus on the action you took to rectify the situation and how you helped the team as a whole reach a productive conclusion.
Playing the blame game is a big interview faux pas, and also one of the easiest to make. When answering this question, recount how resourceful you were in digging up the necessary information, and don't be worried about admitting you started out misinformed, as long as you can display that you learned from the experience. Showing how proactive you are will go a long way.
I had a hard deadline of noon on a Monday, by which I had to submit a grant application on behalf of my boss, who was out of town. We had worked all weekend making sure every piece of the application was in place, but somehow we had both overlooked a key component. My boss was flying and would thus be unable to communicate until after the application was due.
The information required was something that could best be provided by my boss; however, by comparing previous applications and verifying the details with the department's business office, I was able to put together the relevant information and made the decision to submit the application before the deadline. It was accepted, and we won the grant.
Behavioral interview questions can work in your favor to highlight your most impressive professional skills. By outlining and practicing these types of questions ahead of time, you will have the tools to ace your interview.
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