What was your course of action after you discovered a problem in your school or work performance?

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The ‘When you have been made aware of- or have discovered for yourself- a problem in your school or work performance- what was your course of action?’ query may manifest itself in a number of different interview questions. The interviewer may ask you to describe a situation “where you came up with a creative solution to a problem with your work-” or ask you to “give examples of times where you successfully and unsuccessfully attempted to deal with a difficult coworker or employer.” These may feel like trick questions- but avoid the urge to hold your cards too tightly. Acknowledging personal mistakes is a sign of conscientiousness and maturity. The interviewer is not looking for a candidate with a flawless record- but one who candidly acknowledges failures and uses them as stepping stones for further growth. This is also an excellent opportunity to show off your ingenuity and conflict resolution skills.

Understanding how to address the ‘When you have been made aware of- or have discovered for yourself- a problem in your school or work performance- what was your course of action’ question with skill and tact will both humanize you as well as highlight the positive traits sought after by your interviewer.

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How to Answer the “When You Have Been Made Aware of- or Have Discovered for Yourself- a Problem in Your School or Work Performance- What Was Your Course of Action?” Interview Question

Use the Situation-Action-Result (SAR) Technique: This simple framework will allow you to break down your answer into an easy-to-communicate situation for a wide variety of interview questions. Begin by describing a specific problematic situation from a school- or work-related incident. Next- highlight the action you took to overcome the obstacle. You may wish to describe several well-considered plans of action- articulating the pros and cons of each. Lastly- describe the final result of your plan. Articulate how the result benefited not just yourself- but your teammates and employers as well. Generalize the lessons you learned from this experience and briefly describe how that lesson has continued to affect the way you operate.

Let Yourself Be Vulnerable- but Not Too Vulnerable: Many applicants will hesitate to admit to any past weaknesses or failings at all. Stand out from the crowd by honestly providing an answer. Of course- don’t take this to the extreme by using your interviewer as a confessional- either. Make sure the source of whatever problem you reveal to your interviewer is not something that would significantly interfere with your job duties- and phrase it in the past tense. The sweet spot right in the center will allow you to reveal a personal aspect of yourself- which can create a perceived bond between you and the interviewer- especially if it is a weakness or failing he or she may share. Taking responsibility for the issue while emphasizing the specific steps you took to remedy it will go far to illustrate your determination to overcome your setbacks and your ability to learn from your mistakes.

Highlight the Skills Most Relevant to the Position: On the surface level- you may be revealing some weaknesses when answering these interview questions- but you can still tailor your answer to highlight the skill set that your potential employer will find most valuable as you describe how you successfully addressed the problem in your performance. An example that emphasizes your communication or mediation skills as part of the solution may be the perfect anecdote when applying for a customer service position- but will likely do you little good if applying for a job that requires solitary organizational work- such as a medical records technician. For this position- an anecdote that features your analytical skills or high level attention to detail would be much more appropriate.

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Sample “When You Have Been Made Aware of- or Have Discovered for Yourself- a Problem in Your School or Work Performance- What Was Your Course of Action? “Interview Answer

1. When I first began working the front register- it was overwhelming dealing with a fast-paced environment. My initial training had somehow been cut in half- so I was thrown right out into the middle of it. The first few days were frustrating. I could tell it was hard on my coworkers when I couldn’t keep up with my own duties- and the whole team was suffering. I made sure I acknowledged my coworkers’ frustration and asked if I could shadow them on my lunch breaks to catch up on the training I had initially missed. I sacrificed a weeks’ worth of lunch- but within another six months- I was promoted to manager.

2. In my role as manager- I was responsible for a team of 11 employees. We are typically one of the busiest downtown restaurants- especially around lunch time. I over-delegated responsibilities to one of my employees- and an order never went out- so we were faced one day with a crowd of people and no food to serve. Though I was able to coordinate with another location to quickly cover our gap- I made sure I was far more careful in assigning responsibilities. That week we still hit near-record sale numbers.

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