Question 8. Give an example of a time when you were surprised by an unexpected situation and had to change course quickly.
situation: In order to increase profits at the clinic, management wanted to expand our clinical services to include residents with schizophrenia. No one on staff had experience treating schizophrenic patients. Staff members approached me to represent the team and bring our concerns to management.
action: I summarized our concerns, and I provided a list of initiatives we could implement to prepare the department for the new population. Our immediate supervisor agreed to discuss the suggestions with upper management.
result: To the team's surprise, he never met with the executives. When the patients arrived, we all pulled together to provide the best service possible, with the resources available to us.
Question 9. Recall a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.
situation: Jupe, Inc.'s quest to go green was an opportunity to implement an idea that would save the company money and, at the same time, was environmentally sound.
action: I met with members of Marketing and Advertising to discuss the possibility of using recyclable materials and of reducing the package size for our perfume line.
result: Smaller packaging and recyclable materials cost less to manufacture. In addition, more packages fit into the trucks and that translated to greater distribution with fewer trips, so fuel costs were reduced as well.
Question 10. Tell me about a time when you thought a problem was resolved, only to find out that you were mistaken.
situation: As an associate for General Insurance Agency, I misquoted a homeowner's policy and I called the customer to let her know. During our conversation, she accepted my apology and agreed to sign on at the proper quote. I thought the matter was closed. Then a month later, the agency received a letter from the insurance carrier stating that the customer had filed a complaint because she thought I was price-gouging, owing to the coastal location.
action: I drafted a letter to the carrier, explaining that the error occurred because the property appraiser's paperwork was incorrect. The application stated that she lived in Palm Beach County, when in fact her residence was in West Palm Beach County. I took full responsibility, saying that instead of double-checking the paperwork, I simply provided a quote.
result: Needless to say, from that moment forward I double-checked the information provided in every appraiser's report, and I never encountered another situation where I misquoted a policy.
Question 11. Not all problems have clear-cut solutions. Give an example of a difficult decision you made and your thought process for making it.
situation: The Odd Place was going through a tough financial crisis. We cut back on miscellaneous needs, such as office supplies, cell phone usage, and lunches. However, those reductions were not enough.
action: After reviewing options, including laying off employees, I determined that the best choice was to pass a twelve percent increase in cost of medical insurance on to the associates.
result: That was a decision I made with a heavy heart, but it was better than any alternative. Though employees preferred not to pay additional fees for their health-care plan, they understood the situation and were thankful to have a job when so many of their neighbors did not.
Question 12. Summarize a time when you managed a situation characterized by high pressure.
obstacle: When I worked for Wingate Hotels, I returned from vacation to find that the benefits coordinator had given notice the day I left for my vacation. Ultimately, that left me one week to aggressively recruit candidates, catch up with outstanding problems, and document position procedures.
action: To expedite matters, I wrote a classified ad, posted it online, and also called a recruitment agency for their assistance.
result: I took on the administrative functions of the area until a new coordinator was hired and trained.