Describe the Last Time That You Undertook a Project That Demanded a Lot of Initiative

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Interviewers want to know how you have applied your skills and experience to be successful in your previous jobs. To do this- they rely on behavioral interview questions such as ‘describe a time that you undertook a project that demanded a lot of initiative.’ These types of questions make you go beyond simple answers where you describe simple facts; instead- you describe more about your character as demonstrated by specific examples and narratives from your previous experiences.

These questions can be challenging because you need to go beyond a simple answer to show the interviewers how your past experiences showcase your skills. Whey they ask this particular question- they really want to see that you can independently complete tasks without being constantly monitored. This type of employee becomes a great asset to a business because management can focus its time on innovation and improving the company. You might also get a question formed like ‘Describe an example of a project that you completed independently.’

Although these questions can appear to be very challenging to answer- you can easily conquer them with some good preparation and the STAR method. After solid preparation- you will be ready to face the most challenging questions with specific examples that will highlight why you are the best candidate for the job.

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How to Answer ‘Describe the Last Time That You Undertook a Project That Demanded a Lot of Initiative’ Behavioral Interview Question

Identify an Example That Highlights a Situation Where Being Independent Was Challenging. It is important to share experiences that represent you overcoming significant challenges. Although it can be tempting to act as though you have no weaknesses and that you are perfect- this practice can make interviewers see your interview as somewhat of an act. Identify a time in your previous experience where you really faced a challenge working alone. Talk about how you overcame the challenge and became proficient at new skills through initiative. Interviewers will see that you can work independently through tough situations with the confidence to succeed.

Avoid Criticizing Others- Especially Management. It can be very easy to want to highlight your own initiative by speaking badly of others who have been lazy or incompetent in your past. Indeed- this creates a contrast that might highlight your skills- but in the end- employers will begin to see you as a negative employee. These are the employees that gossip about others and create a hostile working environment. If you begin to talk about your initiative in the face of bad management- you will likely alienate your interviewers because they will instantly worry about future criticism that will be extended to them if they hire you. During an interview- always stay positive- and do not criticize others.

Be Prepared to Share a Good Example of Relevant Experience. Although it might feel strange- you need to take the time to practice answering interview questions before you go to an interview. First- identify a set of likely questions that you might get during your specific interview. After you have these questions in front of you- diagram your answers- making sure that you identify the most relevant examples of experience that help answer each question. When you do this before an interview- you can weed out off-the-cuff answers that might not be the strongest and select answers that will best support your qualifications.

The STAR method is perfect for answering challenging behavioral interview questions because it allows you to share details of a specific tough situation or task that you overcame through your actions. You then describe the improved outcome that you created. STAR stands for the following:

  • • Situation or Task
  • • Action
  • • Result

Sample ‘Describe the Last Time That You Undertook a Project That Demanded a Lot of Initiative’ STAR Interview Answer

When I worked as a quality improvement manager at my past job, I was given the responsibility to research and implement a higher system of quality standards with which no one at the facility was familiar. I needed to become the subject matter expert and make sure that our facility passed an inspection. Immediately, I obtained the required materials, studied them in depth and created a plan that I shared with management. They were impressed with my detailed plan and gave me approval to implement it. I selected individuals from each department to be part of a team that I would lead to help train all the staff on the new procedures. I trained my team and supervised implementation of the high quality standard. I built in quality metrics to analyze the quality of the solution, and I found that we were doing very well. We passed the inspection and received high marks for the new system that I established.

You will need to dedicate significant time to practice answering behavioral interview questions before an interview. This practice will separate you from many other highly qualified candidates.

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