The average office is built like a machine. Not always a well oiled machine, but a machine nonetheless. It is built to handle a specific type of work in a specific order by specific people. So when problems occur, it’s like throwing a wrench into that machine – everything can go haywire, and in some cases it will need some drastic repairs.
Companies that have experienced this before may ask you an interview question about problem solving that specifically relates to this type of issue, and your answer needs to be crafted in such a way that they have no doubt you can handle anything thrown at you.
Behavioral Interview Question: Can you tell me about a time where you have been caught unaware by a problem or an obstacle that you had not foreseen? What happened?
There are several ways to answer this question, and in many ways there is no wrong story. However, you want them to catch positive glimpses about your character and personality as they listen to your answer. So make sure your answer shows the following:
- Calmness – Don’t be someone that overreacts.
- Positivity – Don’t complain and blame other people.
- Solutions – Show you have problem solving skills.
As long as your answer reflects positively on you as a person and you have a story to tell, it’s hard for you to go wrong with your answer. The key is to make sure that you share an answer in a way that reflects well on you.
“Our manager left unexpectedly one day, without a warning. Even now we never learned what happened, but it definitely caused some chaos in the workplace, since no one was there to take her place and she had her own processes that weren’t necessarily public. We divvyed up her work immediately, and I took on her day to day tasks while another employee took on her organizational role. In order to fit everything in, I had to figure out how to prioritize almost immediately. The manager’s former role took priority since it affected everyone’s role, including my own.
I delegated some of my own tasks to another coworker and checked in with them regularly to make sure they were not overwhelmed. I then started logging the processes left by the other manager as well as I could remember them or as I could find them so that anyone that took the role in the future would be able to step in seamlessly.”
Problems occur all the time. Your ability to seamlessly handle them says a lot about you, and some type of forward thinking action can show that you understand the challenges of the workplace.
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