What would you do if you got behind schedule with your part of a project?
What will you say?
While this is a Behavioral Interview Question that is normally answered using the STAR format, I don’t think that I would start telling the interviewer all about a time I got behind schedule. Instead, I would address this problem as a theoretical possibility and walk them through a decision-making process, taking into account different factors and considering a variety of solutions.
So, for instance, I might say:
“Well, I hate the thought of being the bottleneck in a project, so I try very hard to make sure that never happens.
If it did, the first thing I would do is determine why I was behind, because you can’t identify a good solution without knowing the problem you need to solve.
I would look to see if I got behind because the work was more complicated than anticipated or because I got sidetracked by a more urgent matter, or whatever the issue was.
Next, I would consider how far along I was in the project and how far behind I was. I would consider a variety of options, including working overtime to get caught up, delegating some of my tasks so the work could get done faster, looking for ways to be more efficient with my process, or maybe even reprioritizing what had to be done by the deadline and what could be added later.
When you’re behind, the most critical thing to do is communicate and control expectations, so I would notify my boss of the problem, the solution I had come up with for it, and any new projected end dates to see if she approved or if she had any additional solutions.
Assuming all was a go, then I would execute and work as hard as I could to bring my part of the project to a successful conclusion as fast as possible.”
Answering the question this way gives the interviewer a lot of information about how you manage your time, prioritize tasks, and critically think through options.
This question and answer is just one of the 101 job interview questions and answers in my ebook How to Answer Interview Questions II, available on Amazon. (Along with the Keys to a Great Interview!)
If you know there’s a job interview in your future, I encourage you to get this book (How to Answer Interview Questions II) as well as the first book, How to Answer Interview Questions. Both books have 101 job interview questions and answers that will have you ready to stand out in any job interview and get the offer.