Friday, February 3, 2012

Another MUST READ article for MBAs ---> Situational Interview Questions & Excellent Sample Responses

From the link:

1. What would you do if the work of a subordinate or team member was not up to expectations?
Sample excellent response:
Luckily, I have quite a bit of previous team experience, and have faced this situation a few times in the past -- so let me tell you how I've learned to handle the issue. The most important first step in dealing with an underperforming subordinate or team member is honest communications -- talking with the person can lead to some surprising discoveries, such as the person not understanding the assigned tasks to being overwhelmed with the assignment. Once I discovered the problem, I could then forge a solution that usually solved the problem and allowed the work to move forward. So often in situations like this, the problem is some combination of miscommunications and unrealistic expectations.

2. A co-worker tells you in confidence that she plans to call in sick while actually taking a week's vacation. What would you do and why?
Sample excellent response:
I would tell this co-worker that being dishonest in her job to her boss as well as her co-workers, is not wise and being dishonest in her job is wrong. I would say how we all want more vacation time, but we have to earn it -- and that by taking this extra time, it's hurting everyone in the department because the person's absence will affect productivity.
3. Describe how you would handle the situation if you met resistance when introducing a new idea or policy to a team or work group.
Sample excellent response:
The best way to convince people is to be able to understand where they are coming from and address their questions and concerns about the new idea directly. It is also important to stay confident and believe in yourself because if you don't buy it no one else will either.
4. What would you do if the priorities on a project you were working on changed suddenly?
Sample excellent response:
I would notify everyone working on the project of the changes. I would then want to know why the priorities have changed, and if there is risk of them changing again in the future. I would hen meet with everyone involved with a new strategy to address the new priorities.
5. How would you handle it if you believed strongly in a recommendation you made in a meeting, but most of your co-workers shot it down?
Sample excellent response:
I would continue to explain why the recommendation was good, giving concrete examples what the benefits of my recommendation could be. Ultimately if my co-workers continue to resist my recommendation I would have to let it go and move on.
6. In a training session, you find that the trainer has a thick accent, and you can't understand what's being said. What would you do?
Sample excellent response:
Certainly not call the trainer out on it. I would try my best to understand what the trainer is saying, ask many questions to clarify any unclear parts about the session and compare notes with someone in the session afterwards. This way I could make sure that I understand what was being explained and discussing it afterwards would help reinforce the things I learned in the session.
7. List the steps that you would take to make an important decision on the job.
Sample excellent response:
1. How would the company benefit from this?
2. How does it relate to the company's values and beliefs?
3. What are the negative and positive impacts this decision has on the company?
8. What would you do if you realized at deadline time that a report you wrote for your boss or professor was not up to par?
Sample excellent response:
Hopefully this would never happen to me since I always make sure to plan my time properly to ensure that my work is always done. If it ever did happen I would meet with my boss and explain the situation and request an extension. I would also evaluate my actions and identify what I did wrong to not complete my work and make sure that it did not happen again.
9. How would you deal with a colleague at work with whom you seem to be unable to build a successful working relationship?
Sample excellent response:
This situation would certainly be unique to me. Ever since I can remember, I've had a knack for finding something in everyone that then becomes common ground for a friendship and/or good working relationship. Certainly there are all types of people, some less motivated to work in teams or simply unhappy in their jobs, but we're all people when you strip away titles and such -- and it's at that base level in which I find a connection that results in some degree of rapport -- even when few others can do so. For example, in my senior year of college, I was placed onto a team that had one member that the rest of the team disliked. This team member was kind of an outcast, but I knew we needed this full commitment to make the project work. Even though I was not the team leader, I took it upon myself to forge a connection -- and discovered we had a mutual passion for horses. We did not end best friends or anything, but through our common interest, I was able to build enough rapport to connect and engage him as a key team member. There is always something that bonds us all together -- it is just harder to find with some people than with others.

10. You disagree with the way your supervisor says to handle a problem. What would you do?
Sample excellent response:
I would evaluate why I disagreed with my supervisor and come up with a different way that I think the situation should be handled. I would then sit down with my supervisor -- in private -- and discuss with him what I had a problem with and how I think it should have been done.
11. Who would you talk to if you discovered that a co-worker was disclosing confidential information that should not be divulged?
Sample excellent response:
I would first sit down privately with my co-worker and let him or her know what is happening. I would make it a dialogue rather than a lecture -- with the goal of helping the co-worker realize what a serious mistake he or she is making and how it could impact both the company and their personal life -- and the lives of their family and friends. If nothing comes of the meeting -- either the co-worker is defensive and denies it -- or does not agree to stop doing the disclosure, then I would be forced to go directly to my manager with the proof that I have of the illegal activities.

12. When would it be appropriate to bring in your supervisor while dealing with an angry customer?
Sample excellent response:
As an employee it is my job to explore all the possible options to satisfy customer demands. However, if I see the customer is angry with me personally it is better to bring in a supervisor because they are more likely to listen to my supervisor than me. Also it is important to stay friendly and always stay respectful and polite when dealing with customers even if they are frustrated.
13. How would you attempt to make changes in the process if you felt a policy of your organization was hurting its members/workers?
Sample excellent response:
I would ask my co-workers if they felt the same way. I would want to make sure that I am not the only employee that feels like the policy is hurting members/workers. If others agreed with me, I would try to set up a meeting with a supervisor or someone who is in control of changing the policy and explain my concerns. I would then develop an alternative solution and present the problem with my developed alternative solution to the head of the organization.
14. What would a good manager do to build team spirit?
Sample excellent response:
Most importantly, any plan to build team spirit has to be authentic. We've all seen -- or experienced -- work environments like in Office Space or The Office. Anything less than authenticity will be seen as simply rah-rah -- or going through the motions. A good manager brings the team together -- perhaps even a retreat -- to foster communications and develop common goals and objectives. During this meeting, the manager should also show how all the team members play a role in making the team successful -- and that only by working together and respecting each other can the team fully succeed.
Sometimes, too, when the team is from different departments or backgrounds, it's important for the manager address this issue from day one -- if possible. I was once put in a team with a mix of marketers and accountants and the manager sat us all down and told us a story of a successful competitor and how their accounting team thought like marketers and how their marketers understood the importance of return on investment for new marketing initiatives. By using the story of a successful competitor, it helped us realize that we had more in common than we had differences and that we could come together as a team and be successful.

15. How would you organize the steps or methods you'd take to define/identify a vision for your team or your personal job function?
Sample excellent response:
I believe a good team vision starts first with a strong understanding of the organization's mission. So, my steps would be as follows. First, review my organization's vision.
Second, develop some rough ideas of how I would word a team vision statement in preparation for a team meeting to discuss the issue.
Third, I would call a meeting of the team and have a discussion of what we do best, how what we do fits with the organization. Then I would discuss the organization's vision and ask for ideas and suggestions for the team's mission. If asked, I would mention some of my thoughts on our team vision.
Fourth, following the meeting, I would craft a vision statement -- perhaps with the help of one or two other team members -- and then distribute it to the team and ask for feedback.
Fifth, I would finalize the vision statement from the comments and feedback from the team... and then post our vision statement in places where all the team members could see it on a regular basis.

16. How would you react if two teammates were embroiled in a conflict that kept the team from completing its task?
Sample excellent response:
To build team spirit, it would be important that all team members are on the same page and agree on a common goal. Team building exercises bring a team closer together and strengthen team spirit. For example, there's an exercise called "Hammeroid" that involves comparing a hammer, string, ruler, and table to work style preferences. Participants are tasked with bringing a team in conflict into harmony by perfectly balancing the hammer, string, and ruler on the table. Team members should also be made to feel like their opinion matters and their input/ideas are valued by their manager.
17. You don't have the information you need to prioritize your projects. Your co-workers and supervisor are unavailable for you to ask for assistance. How do you handle the situation?
Sample excellent response:
This is a great question because in all my work experience, I have never faced this issue. Whenever I'm given a new task to accomplish, I immediately seek to understand its importance and priority given my other projects and assignments. So, my first inclination would be that I would sit down and review all the projects and examine a couple of key issues -- things like deadlines, potential impacts, and involvement of others. Obviously projects that are mission-critical and have the shortest deadlines need to be addressed first.
If I was still stumped -- and my manager and team members were truly unavailable -- rather than sitting there paralyzed, I would probably consult a mentor within the organization and seek his or her advice -- more as a sounding board for my own thoughts than seeking a solution from them.

18. As a supervisor, you've made an unpopular decision. What action would you take so that morale in the department is not negatively affected?
Sample excellent response:
I would call for a meeting to let my employees know that their opinions about my decision are valued, however I would also explain to them why the decision needed to be made. Sometimes people are more empathetic once they know the reasons for a certain action. I would also ensure employees that positives are to come from this decision and reinforce that their opinions and ideas are valued, but that this was a decision that needed to be made.
19. In a team-leadership role, you discover that a team member has gone "over your head" to propose an idea or complain about an issue without talking to you first. How do you handle the situation?
Sample excellent response:
Too often something like this happens when an individual feels his or her opinions or ideas are not being heard, so rather than assume the person is simply trying to make some sort of power play or make you look bad to your boss, you first need to get the details of the situation. Sometimes someone does deliberately does go over your head, but sometimes these things happen because of a chance meeting between the person and your supervisor, and the conversation is spontaneous, not malicious. If you discover the discussion was in fact a planned action, the first thing you need to do is evaluate how you -- and your team -- have treated this person. Next, I would call a private meeting with the person and simply have a conversation about the situation and how and why it happened -- and how this person can get his or her voice back within the team so that the situation will not repeat itself.
Finally, if it turns out the person is simply a disgruntled employee and there is little that can be done to change his or her future actions, and you've exhausted all options to bring the person back into the team and the organization, then you need to meet again with your boss and then with the person and have a discussion about possible consequences of future occurrences.

20. You been placed in charge of a project team for a new project. What are your first steps to get the team going and complete the project?
Sample excellent response:
I would call the team together for an initial meet and greet -- and make sure we all know each other on some basic level -- and to set some initial expectations for the team. Once the team has been established, I would move ahead with the project in these basic steps: * First, make sure we fully understand the problem and task at hand. We need to define the problem that will be solved by the project.
* Second, we need to brainstorm possible solutions to accomplish the project.
* Third, we get back together and choose the best path/process to completing the project.
* Fourth, we divide the process into smaller parts and assign individual team members parts to complete -- based on their individual skill sets -- assigning deadlines and budgets.
* Fifth, we execute the plan and deal with any circumstances that arise as we move forward toward completion.
* Sixth, we complete the project -- as planned, on deadline and budget (hopefully) -- and meet as a team one final time to discuss any unanticipated problems or issues that arose and how we can prepare and better address them in the future.


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