In This post We will answer the behavioural interview question “Tell me about a time when you had to suddenly change directions at work”
A sneak peek into the mind of the interviewer and WHY they ask this
What to say when you’re answering
And a concrete example of my own experience to get you thinking!
Ok So What’s the point of this question?
This question is to find out how flexible you are, (not physically flexible) although yoga is really good for you. But I’m talking about mentally flexible, and this is really tough for many people.
So they want you to tell them about a time when you were asked to do something and perhaps all your hard work work wasn’t’ needed anymore, and something changed? Have you ever been there?
It’s to see how you deal with things changing on the fly, how resilient you are in other words.
So in most situations people when they are asked to change directions, from what they’re doing, they get frustrated, mad, they get into a bad state because they feel like they wasted time, and their time wasn’t appreciated and their work is wasted.
So here’s how you answer:
You answer it by telling a Story (of course)
Use The SARI Formula which we’ll go through here. SARI stands for (Situation, Action Result and interesting Features)
The SARI Formula stands for (Situation/Task, Action, Result & Interesting Features)
You want to tell an impactful story that paints a good picture of the situation, how you rose to the challenge and the end result.
Step 1: The Situation (setting the stage) For Example:
I was working on planning a large corporate retreat for the company executives, we had a lot of it already planned, flights and accommodation were booked etc. Then suddenly the President of the company had a sudden important meeting come up overseas and the retreat needed to be postponed/cancelled immediately.
(They want to see that you’re going to be flexible, adaptable and can move with things changing quickly. This story demonstrates that.)
Step 2: ACTION
What were the actions that you took and what outcome did they lead to? So for example: Action: I said, No problem I’ll get on this right away! immediately cancelled the flights, meeting space and hotel bookings trying to get as much money back or credits for future use as possible , got credits for what what I could so we wouldn’t lose too much money and changed the necessary arrangements. I was able to negotiate some extra credit from the resort hotel, as I let them know that we were going to be re-booking in the future with them, and that if they helped us out on this occasion it would mean that we’d be more likely to use them for future retreats too. (In other words, giving us a break here would pay off for them in the future).
Step 3: RESULT
They appreciated the fact that I was able to salvage some of the funds spent on the retreat and negotiate extra credit, it was before the deadline so cancelling the reservation still were able to recuperate some of our money back for the company. If I had waited even one more day to cancel, this wouldn’t have been possible.
Step 4: BONUS Interesting Features
Highlight the learning – whatever it was, how are you different today from this experience? Here you can highlight your attitude and approach when things like this happen (because they happen all the time) So for example:
I looked at it more of a learning experience than an inconvenience, I realize that things happen in life that no one can predict and are sometimes unavoidable. Getting frustrated and upset just takes away the energy needed to handle things efficiently. So I just role with the punches and get what needs to be done, done, even at a moment’s notice!
There we have it:
What’s your go to response when faced with switching gears without warning?
How do you deal unexpected changes happen suddenly?
How do you move forward and how do you feel about it?
How did it turn out!
Thank you for reading! Nailing the interview questions is great! But There is a lot more to interviewing than just answering the questions.
In fact if all you do is answer the questions alone, you’ve already lost at the interview.
There is a whole interview strategy at play and if you’d like to learn more you can get started with me by clicking the link below to grab my free guide:
You get free instant access and Ultimate situational interviewing guide.
What you’ll get when you download the guide:
An in-depth look at The SARI Formula (and the psychology behind it)
A series of Concrete Examples for the top 10 most commonly asked situational questions
Fill in the blank templates for each question
& if you are still getting stuck (because preparing your own stories is tough) I’ve also included
25 Questions to come up with your own stories much quicker.
You’ll also get the beautifully designed workbook, designed specially for you to prepare for your next interview.
By the end of working through the guide you’ll be totally ready for any situational interview question that gets thrown your way!
Click below and grab it now.
Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next week back at my digital corner of the internet (www.nataliefisher.ca)
In Work & Life