Q. Describe a time when you have taken ownership of a challenging problem. (taking ownership)

SITUATION: It was late on a Friday afternoon at work when the company website went down. This situation had potentially disastrous consequences for the business because an online sale was due to commence at 9 am on Saturday, and the company depended heavily on the sales.

TASK: Because I genuinely cared for the company, I agreed to stay behind late after work with my manager to try and resolve this challenging problem. The clock was ticking, and we needed to work fast.

ACTION: My manager asked me to start calling around local IT companies to see if they could help. We did not have a dedicated IT department so we needed to find an alternative solution to the problem. Unfortunately, because it was late on a Friday, none of the local companies were answering the phone. I then came up with an alternative idea, and that was to try and hire a freelance web developer on the website UpWork.com who could help us. UpWork.com allows you to hire professional contractors from around the globe and I felt this would significantly increase our chances of finding a fast solution. After fifteen minutes, I was able to find a suitable IT expert on UpWork.com who had exceptional reviews and was able to start work immediately. I then set up a quick Skype call with the developer and despite his English not being good, I managed to explain the problem in sufficient detail.

RESULT: After ninety minutes, and several additional communications with the IT expert, he was able to find a solution and get the website back up and running again. Finally, I asked the contractor to provide me with a step-by-step tutorial for ensuring the same problem never happened again. By using my initiative, and a patient and calm style of communication, I was able to find a solution to this challenging problem that ensured the online sale could go ahead the following morning.

Q. Provide an example of when you have taken on feedback and innovated. (Innovative and open-minded)

SITUATION: In my previous job, I was taking part in a performance review with my manager. During the review, she stated that she wanted me to improve in the area of customer service. She explained that I was not attentive enough whilst speaking to customers on the telephone and that I was purely focused on dealing with as many customers as possible during the day. She went on to explain that customer service was vital for helping the business increase sales and customer recommendations.

TASK: I saw it as my responsibility to take on board her comments with positivity and enthusiasm, and to put a plan of action in place that ensured I made the necessary improvements.

ACTION: Once the performance review was complete, I started searching online for a digital course I could undertake that would give me the necessary skills that would help me to serve our customers better whilst still maintaining efficiency. Once I had found a suitable online course, I asked my manager for permission to complete it, to which she agreed.

The course took three weeks to complete. I found it hugely beneficial in respect of the questions I should be asking customers whilst speaking to them on the telephone. The questions allowed me to improve service standards, develop positive relationships with our customers, and find ways we could improve as a business moving forward.

After implementing the techniques I had learned on the course, several customers made suggestions in respect of having an online customer review facility which would serve to increase trust and reassurance in the company brand. This innovative facility would also give the company ideas as to the different types of products our customers desired.

RESULT: After putting forward this suggestion to my manager, she agreed it was a positive idea that would allow the business to improve and she gave me the task of implementing it. After speaking with the company IT department we were able to quickly implement the review facility which proved to be a huge success for the business in terms of customer engagement, customer retention, and increased revenue.

Q. Provide an example of when you have intervened in a challenging situation and taken ownership to resolve the situation. (taking ownership)

SITUATION: A situation occurred in my previous job whereby I overheard a work colleague speaking appropriately to a work colleague. Not only were their actions against company policy and values, but the person the comments were aimed at was distressed.

TASK: I decided to take ownership of the situation because I believed I had a duty to challenge the person making the comments, to report the incident to my supervisor, and to ensure it never happened again.

ACTION: I immediately challenged the person making the comments. I was calm in my approach, and I used a non-confrontational style of communication. I explained in a confident and resilient tone that their comments were not welcome in this or any organisation. I explained that I would be reporting the comments to my supervisor and I asked them why they felt the need to speak in the manner they had done. Initially, they were quite defensive and they told me to mind my own business.

However, I went to explain to them that the organization had a set of policies that went against this type of behaviour and that I also found them to be offensive. They then realised the error of their ways; they apologised to the person who the comments had been directed at, and they pleaded with me not to report them to my supervisor.

Despite their pleas, I still reported the incident. I felt this was important so the supervisor could address a potentially wider organisational issue in respect of people thinking that type of behaviour was acceptable. I then spoke in private to the person who the comments had been directed at to ensure they were feeling fine.

RESULT: After speaking to my supervisor, they arranged for the entire department to receive training in respect of acceptable behaviour and language in the workplace. By having the confidence and determination to take ownership of this challenging situation I was able to help the organisation maintain its values.

Q. Describe a time where you have demonstrated you are open to change. (Innovative and open-minded)

SITUATION: I had been working as part of a very successful team in a previous role when our long-standing manager left the business to take up a post with a new company. In his place, a young and relatively inexperienced manager started work for the company. Immediately, the new manager wanted to make changes to the team working practices, and lots of people in the team were very unhappy with his approach.

TASK: However, being someone who understands the benefits of change, I saw it as my responsibility to support our new manager and to encourage others in the team to do the same.

ACTION: Every time I overheard people in the team complaining about the changes, I explained to them the benefits of change. I outlined how the business was operating in a very competitive market and if we didn’t try new ways of working, we might not maintain our current success rate. I also explained that we all had a duty to at least allow our new manager to try these new changes to see if they had a positive impact on the team. I also spoke to our new manager to offer my support and I explained that it might be a good idea to speak openly about the changes with the rest of the team as they had some concerns.

TASK: He thanked me for my support and for my honest suggestion in respect of speaking to the team. After he had spoken to the team, everyone felt more comfortable with the changes and they worked hard to see their successful implementation. The company continued to thrive and after six months everyone agreed the new methods of working had had a positive impact on the team and its overall performance.

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