[Part 7] Toughest Interview Questions

31) Tell me about a time you led or worked in a team

This interview question is a situational question. This kind of question tends to see how you would show your competency in a particular situation. Your response to the question will help the interviewer understand how you would react in a particular situation.

The STAR method is a great approach to attempting this question.

When you are answering these questions, you should focus on the following:

  • Give an example of where you demonstrated working in a team
  • Make the interviewer understand how you have worked in a team You should avoid the following:
  • Avoid sounding like a lazy person
  • Avoid sounding unprofessional

Sample Answers

“In my previous job as a sales executive, we were divided into teams to see how we can improve sales on the new product. My team members and I developed a plan to have each member handle a specific area so that we specialize and deliver at the right time.

At the end of the day, we were able to increase sales by up 10% from what we used to have in the previous year”.

32) Describe a situation where you solved a problem

Employers usually ask this question because they believe that problem solvers have an amazing attitude that makes them face up with challenges and an open mind that makes them learn easily.

Since challenges are inevitable when performing any task or in any work environment, employers tend to ask this question to have an idea about how you would react when you are been faced with some of the challenges.

Pat attention to the following details when you are answering the question:

  • Makes sure you identify a real problem that you have solved sometimes in the past
  • Carefully walk the interviewer through the problem and how you were able to solve it
  • Use the STAR method to organize your response
  • Make sure that the problem that you have chosen to talk about is one that will contain the skills that the interviewer needs to evaluate that you are the right person for the job

You should also avoid the following:

  • Don’t give an example of an unrealistic problem
  • Don’t pick a problem that will not emphasize your skills and abilities
  • Avoid talking about a problem that you were not able to solve at the end

Sample Answers

“In my previous role as an account manager, we got a deal from one of our top clients, and as we were about to start the processes, our top employee resigned and there was nobody readily available with that kind of experience that can handle that kind of request.

Even though I was handling loads of projects already, I had to take up the responsibility of managing the client’s accounts to savage the situation because, with that deal, we will meet up to 45% of our target for the year.

I worked extra 5 hours on work days, and all through the weekend to make sure that we deliver at the right time. When we finished the project, we were able to deliver it 3 days before the deadline. At the end of that project, were able to meet up with our target for the year and we kept the promise we made to our client”

33) Describe a situation where you showed leadership

Leadership is one of the competencies that employers look for when they look forward to getting a recent hire. It is easy for you to think that leadership abilities are the most sort after in management positions, but that is not always the case. Interviewers ask this question because of the following reasons:

  • If you are applying for a management position, then they are asking this question because they want to know if you will be able to jump in and perform the leadership role immediately.
  • Some other job roles like project management will require you to learn how to work together with people effectively
  • If you are applying for an entry-level position, then they are asking you the question because they want to know how you will thrive in a leadership position. They may want to know how fast you can grow internally

You will need to consider the following details to answer the question directly:

  • You have to sell yourself properly
  • Be ready to tell a good interview story using the STAR format

Sample Answers

“In my previous company, we experienced a serious financial breakdown, and as a result of that, the company dissolved some of the departments and laid off many workers too. So there was so much workload on the remaining people that were there and it was almost frustrating for them that they wanted to quit. I had to show them that there is a need to do whatever you do well with my performance and enthusiasm. I consciously took on more work, which led and motivated them to do more”.

“In my previous company, where I worked as the team lead, I noticed that my team members were becoming unconcerned and lazy about their work, this was a serious problem for me because I had to fill in the gap which means taking up more jobs. I discovered that the problem was a new staff member that did not like what he was doing and tried to drag other team members to do the same. I spoke to the man and advised the HR unit to fix him in another role where he can perform better, they did that and I put in more effort to be diligent in my work and also show that I love what I do. The team came back to normal and we were able to achieve all our goals for the year”.

34) Give an example of a time when you spearheaded a project

With the question, the interviewer wants to know your leadership ability and how you take initiative to handle a project. Interviewers ask this question to have an idea about how you can solely take charge of a project and deliver.

How to answer this question:

  • Give examples of times that you have managed people
  • Make sure that the example you give should be one that demonstrates a time that you delivered a good result on time
  • Talk about the resources you made use of and how you made use of those resources to achieve the result

You should also avoid:

  • Avoid talking about how much you hate taking leadership roles
  • Avoid talking about how much the project frustrated you

Sample Answers

“In my previous company where I worked as a technical lead, it is my duty to make sure that every project is successful. The first thing that I did was to look at things that may likely prevent us from achieving our goals after I must have written down and brainstormed on the goals we want to achieve.

I scheduled meetings with people that I know will contribute to the success of the project. I organized different sessions to help us work better on the project, I worked overtime and on weekends to make sure that the project is successful and on time”

If you are applying for an entry-level position;

“During my internship, I headed a small team of interns like myself to develop a user feedback system that would work on the new website that we were building. I divided the group into 4 units and shared responsibilities among team members, I shared the responsibilities into the different tasks that I labeled (ABCD) I handled A while other team members did their part. At the end of the day, we came together and integrated the whole system into one robust system. The project got the attention of the managing director and we were commended for it. This project opened the door to other projects”.

35) Describe a time when you made a mistake in your work

This is one question that may come out as tricky because you are made to talk about your own mistakes. Interviewers ask this kind of question to understand how you face challenges and your approach to the challenges that you face.

Interviewers also use this question to determine your weakness to know how well you will perform if you are given the job.

Consider following these steps to answer the question effectively:

  • The best way to tackle this question is to talk about a particular mistake that you made
  • Briefly explain the mistake, but don’t dwell on it
  • Talk about what you have learned in the course of the mistake You should also be careful not to do the following:
  • Be careful not to mention a mistake that would be critical to your success
  • Avoid mentioning a mistake that is a flaw in your character

Sample Answers

“When I was new in my previous company, I accepted to take on two projects from different people simultaneously even when I knew that I may not be able to handle it. I didn’t tell them to think that I could not handle the job. I could not explain to any of them that I was handling another project.

I could not meet up with the deadline for the projects, so I told my manager and she assigned another person to work with me to hasten the project. I learned to keep my employers updated on any task and take on tasks that I can handle easily”.

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