Every once in a while there is a person on your staff that you believe can do everything, and on occasion you give them too much to do. In some cases, it may be because you misjudged the amount of work, but often times it’s because you rely on them to be the rockstar of your team, and find yourself overestimating the amount of work they can complete because you think they can handle it.
Behavioral Interview Question: Give me an example of a time where you delegated to much work or responsibility to a member of your team who was not able to complete the task. How did you manage this?
There are a few keys to success with this answer:
- It’s never the employee’s fault (this is implied by the question).
- You have to have learned something, so point out what went wrong.
- Ideally the project needs to be completed effectively.
The question implies, rightfully, that this was a situation where you made a judgement mistake. It is designed to discover if you are self aware enough to be able to admit you were wrong and learn from the experience. So make sure that you accept some degree of blame, and then focus on what you did to solve it. If this situation has never happened to you, briefly describe some ways that you could imagine this occurring and then follow up with what you would do.
“Yes, this has happened to me. Sometimes I have found myself getting too excited about the abilities of a single staff member and relying on them too often, especially without remembering that they have other roles in the company too. One time this happened on one of our engineering projects, where I had one employee completing a high number of tasks as she was one of very few employees experienced enough to manage all the different tasks.
She actually never told me she was overworked. I noticed it myself when she started to become easily flustered, and I realized something was wrong. I brought it up to her and she admitted she was working on too many projects. I still needed her help, so what I did was I engaged a few other staff members and had them take over some of the easier more menial tasks for her, since they had more time. Then for future projects, I made sure I created a list of team strengths and had them regularly update the document with their current projects, so in the future when delegating I knew in advance who had not only the key skills but the time available.”
For employers, this answer is very important, as overworked employees are most likely to quit which costs them company a lot of money in the long run. So an answer that talks about fairness and noticing which employees are stressed is a desirable one that shows good trouble shooting skills as well.
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