Tell me about a time when you managed a difficult deadline. What did you do? What was the outcome of that?
The employer is seeking to establish how you prioritise tasks and what coping strategies you implement when you are faced with difficulties in meeting the deadline. A typical answer may be:
During my employment at ABC, I was responsible for representing the company at various trade events - normally, there would be no more than one event per month which made for a reasonable balance of my time. It transpired that a colleague of mine who worked in a similar capacity to me covering a different region left the company at short notice - I was tasked with her events as well as my own until a replacement was found. I coped well with this news; I laid out my plans with the finest of details ensuring there would be no scope for error. I arranged a meeting with my Manager and talked him through the detail to ensure I hadn’t omitted anything - he seemed impressed that I had taken this stance. I proudly headed off on my ‘tour’ of events feeling satisfied with my action planning. Between my 3rd and 4th event, I was devastated to find that my vehicle had been broken into and the display stand and material including trial products had been stolen. My fine tuning couldn’t save this disaster. I promptly followed up with the authorities; the venue and my Manager who was really supportive. I decided to go to the venue as, after all, the company had paid for a ‘space’. Although I was empty-handed, I did have my lap-top so I was able to run a presentation on loop and I stepped into the flowing audience to bring people to ‘my space’. I actually established a lot of leads and, on reflection, I believe I worked harder to obtain those given the scenario. I was, strangely enough, delighted with the outcome as was my Manager. I received excellent feedback for meeting this deadline and using my initiative.