Give Me Some insight Into a Time When You Werent Happy With Your Work. What Did You Do to Make It Better?


Behavioral interview questions like this one can be a little bit difficult to decipher- because the goal of the interviewer’s asking the question is sometimes indirect or otherwise difficult to perceive. To understand how to put together your best answer- it helps to start by understanding what is being asked.

When interviewers ask you to describe a time you were unhappy with the work and what you did to make it better- they are typically asking you to demonstrate how you work to affect positive change when you are not pleased with a situation or its results. It also has a second query embedded in it- which is the question- ‘What makes you unhappy with your work?’ This indirect question also allows the interviewer to understand what kinds of situations make you displeased. Once you understand the dual approach the question takes- finding a memorable answer is much easier.

This question might be phrased in a few other ways- too- including- ‘Please tell me about a time when a project did not turn out as expected- and what you did about it-‘ and other variations that might emphasize different scenarios- but that always come back to the two-pronged query. Crafting a memorable answer is a matter of preparation for both parts- and using the STAR format helps ensure your answer is concise and your actions are identifiable- so they catch an interviewer’s attention.

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How to Answer the ‘Give Me Some Insight Into a Time When You Werent Happy With Your Work. What Did You Do to Make It Better?’ Behavioral Interview Question

Start With the STAR Structure: The STAR method for structuring behavioral interview answers is the best way to ensure that you have a single- specific example to answer the question with- and it also ensures that your answer is framed in a way that helps the interviewer identify the results you obtained and the actions that led to them. It breaks down like this:

  • • ST: The Situation or Task that answers the question. This should be a single specific event or episode- not a generalization of your behavior over time.
  • • A: Actions- the specific action you took to get your result.
  • • R: Results. What happened? How did your action resolve the situation to your satisfaction?

Once you start to organize around a STAR answer- the rest of the tips will help you sharpen it.

Select Your Best Anecdote: Remember- this interview question is looking for both a creative answer that demonstrates your ability to create positive change and also insight into the kinds of things that make you unhappy with your work. Depending on the corporate values of the organization- this means that different examples will work well for different companies. Try to pick a problem you had that they will identify with- or one whose solution fits in well with the skill set your new job will be asking you to use.

Be Professional: You don’t want to sound like you’re complaining when you answer behavioral interview questions- so you need to practice your delivery. Avoid casual statements and editorializing- and emphasize the factual reasons that led you to be unhappy with the work. As much as possible- try to avoid blame- but if the situation was the result of an event or a specific set of actions- you do want to call attention to it. The trick is to make sure that the language keeps the listener pointed at the solutions- not at the question of who is liable for there being a problem.

Break Down Your Answer: As you figure out how to relate the results of your actions- make sure to break down the narrative so that there are concrete points a listener can take away from the discussion. This way- it is easier for them to remember what the actual results of your actions are- not just the outcome of the story generally. Making your answer as memorable as possible can help you stand out among the other applicants interviewing for the same position.

Sample ‘Give Me Some Insight Into a Time When You Werent Happy With Your Work. What Did You Do to Make It Better’ STAR Interview Answer

My last employer had a client who liked to try to do an end-run around our content writing agreement by pretending to misunderstand perfectly clear language when they wanted to request a stylistic edit that was not outlined in our original contract with them. The result was that their informational website project slowed to a halt- and many of our writers were stuck doing unpaid edits on work that conformed to the client’s style guide. As the account manager- I intervened by asking the client to clarify exactly what was hard to understand and to provide a question or two that helped our writers know why their work was confusing. The result was a streamlining of the operation that allowed the client to identify items that were confusing more clearly- while avoiding any potential abuse of our agreement.

Behavioral interview questions are difficult to answer well without preparation- so remember to practice your answers until they are polished.