Lots of teams are put together with personalities that do not always complement each other, leading to problems that may make it hard to push the team towards growth and productivity. Employers want to know that you have leadership qualities that can handle rough groups, and that you’re confident in your abilities when faced with difficult situations.
Behavioral Interview Question: Describe the most difficult work team you have had to lead? What made them difficult? How did you go about overcoming the issues?
Whenever we’re faced with a question that asks you to rate the difficulty of others, you have to be extremely careful how you answer. You must not obviously complain about anyone on your team, or make it seem like you really found your staff to be “that” difficult. Indeed, what makes them difficult should be something professional that doesn’t make it sound like you have a problem with them personally. For example:
- They all have strong personalities, so occasionally they spoke over each other.
- They all were prone to playing to their strengths.
- They all had a variety of other tasks unrelated to the group.
Those are issues that don’t complain about the team, but also represent significant difficulties to leadership. Make sure you spend time talking about what you did to overcome it.
“I was lead on Project XYZ at Company ABC. During that time I was given a team of top notch talent, each one skilled at their specific role. Unfortunately, for many of the individuals on staff, the project was not their top priority – they were heavily utilized on other teams and by other supervisors, giving them limited time to work on the project in addition to their other tasks.
I overcame this by using two separate strategies. The first strategy was breaking up their work into smaller, more manageable parts. I gave them an Excel sheet with a variety of due dates for individual subsections, so that they could see how easy it was to fit in my work. Next, I consulted with each one individually, and asked them if they needed anything to help them complete their OTHER work more efficiently. A few of them did, and I spoke with the supervisors on those projects, seeing if someone else could handle that workload. In many cases, they were able to divert some of the work to another employee, which then freed up my staff’s time to work on the project.”
At no point in this answer do you say anything that makes it seem like you’re judging any other staff members, and you had a good plan to follow up and make sure that it wasn’t a long term problem. Overall, good leadership skills are shown with this answer, and that’s what employers are looking for.
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