The work environment requires flexibility—from dealing with differing employee and customer personality styles to tackling an unexpected project that hit your desk five minutes before closing time. Interviewers will focus some of their questions on your ability to adapt to various situations.
Question 25. Tell me about a time when you had to adjust to a different work environment.
situation: When I reentered the teaching field, after serving as a guidance counselor for six years, I had to readjust to the classroom environment.
action: In preparation, I went to a teacher's conference, where the speakers discussed topics such as behavior modification techniques as a motivator, manipulative implementation, and instituting a Balanced Literacy Program.
result: After the conference I was better prepared to manage students and meet district expectations. As a result, I successfully engaged students in the learning process.
Question 26. Describe an occasion when there was a fundamental change in the way things were done in your workplace. What was your response to it?
situation: When Bank of the States merged with Capital Financial Firm, we expected a smooth transition because both companies provided the same products and services. However, I was surprised to learn that my role as a customer service representative changed from that of simply attending to customer inquiries to also including sales of bank products and services.
action: Unlike my peers, I did not quit or complain to management. I understood that there is more than one way to accomplish your goals. To ensure that I had a grasp of my new responsibilities, I asked questions during the training sessions.
result: Within three months, there were layoffs but my position remained intact. My manager told me that I was not affected by the reorganization because of my commitment to embracing the bank's new procedures.
Question 27. Recall the last time you felt energized about a project.
situation: When my employer, Interior Specialty Group, merged with The Summit Company, I was excited about the partnership. Both companies were boutique firms with solid reputations in the industry. I recognized that the alliance would attract larger, more challenging deals from influential clients. As I suspected, within weeks we landed a contract with a Fortune 500 company to launch a big marketing campaign.
action: As part of a team, I helped market the company's software products to various media, including newspapers, TV, magazines, and Web sites.
result: The campaign was a success, and I was assigned to additional high-profile accounts.
Question 28. Give an example of a situation in which you assessed a person's temperament and how that assessment helped the relationship.
situation: An employee was extremely sensitive, and team members felt they could not express themselves without that employee's taking offense. For example, if a co-worker walked into the office but did not greet her, she felt like the co-worker did not like or was upset with her.
action: I realized that this employee was overly sensitive, and so I had to flex my communication style so she wouldn't feel under attack. I decided to have a casual conversation with her instead of setting up a meeting. This approach disarmed her, and I was able to broach the subject without her trepidation. During our talk, I encouraged her to not personalize the behaviors of others. I also explained that people have lives outside of the office that can impact their moods—for instance, some people are not "morning people"—and she should accept that others' statements are not necessarily directed toward her.
result: Since no one's personality or outlook changes overnight, I had to meet with her a few more times to help her work through her emotions and focus her energy on work projects instead. That said, over time she grasped the notion that, in a work environment, a thick skin is sometimes required.