Behavioral Interview Question: Describe a Time You Missed a Deadline
In any stressful workplace there are sometimes issues that can come up that may cause you to miss a deadline. Indeed, you may have even missed a deadline in the past that was not your fault.
Part of being a leader is recognizing your faults, and coming up with solutions that help you avoid those problems in the future. This is especially true of missing deadlines, and in fact, is the real issue employers are trying to uncover with this interview question. It’s really about showing you have good emotional intelligence.
Behavioral Interview Question: Describe a time you were unable to meet a deadline. How did you handle the situation?
Focus your answer on your actions and not on how it may have been someone else’s fault. It is best to come up with a brief reason for your lateness on the project, but one that doesn’t say terrible things about you as a worker (issues that occurred many years before are ideal since they are not recent), and make sure you offer valuable solutions that show you put thought into what you do.
“We received information about a very large, low priority project. At the time, I thought it would be best to continue to complete some of the higher priority projects I was working at the time. Unfortunately, these projects kept coming and kept coming, and suddenly we had several high priority projects and one large project that, being so close to deadline, was now also a high priority. As hard as we worked, we missed the deadline.
I sent personal apology letters to the client’s representative taking full responsibility for the delay. I then spoke with my team and we agreed that we would move our schedules around to work overtime on its completion. Throughout the process we kept the client up to date and sent over snippets and useable components whenever possible.
In order to make sure that never happened again, I began assigning dedicated account managers to each project, rather than have one large project pool. We then initiated a visual progress report. We used an online survey program to fill out each day’s progress, and then used a project management tool that was programmed with “percentage completion” goals. If we did not match those goals, our team would focus on how to stay current on all projects and would work extra hard to manage the project. This method actually seemed to increase productivity as well due to the clear accountability.”
With this type of answer, you did explain why you missed the deadline, but it wasn’t the core of your answer. Most importantly, you took steps to make sure it never happened again, and you found a strategy that provided better organization and productivity for the whole company.