Employers use competency-based questions more and more these days, in order to find out why an applicant would be the best candidate for the job. These are questions that allow you to give evidence of your skills and how you would use them in a specific situation. They often start with “Describe a situation where you had to ……” or “Give an example of when you ….”
Often, the interviewer is asking you to demonstrate one or more of these skills or attributes: Communication skills, Negotiation skills, Persuasiveness, Team working, Decision making, Problem solving, Planning and organisation, Leadership skills. There is an easy way to structure your answer to this type of question, called the STAR approach: Situation, Task, Action, Result.
Situation: describe the situation you were in.
Task: talk about what you were meant to be doing.
Action: tell them what you did.
Result: how did it turn out? What would you do differently, or the same, if this situation arose again?
“Tell me about a time when you failed to complete a task or project on time, despite intending to do so?” (from Wikijob)
Answer 1: Positive justification for missed deadline
“During my final year at university I failed to deliver my dissertation on the due date. This was because I was heavily involved in cutting edge research right up until the end of my course and was waiting for imminent results from surveys being undertaken by researchers at other academic institutions… I wanted to ensure it was based on the most accurate and up to date sources of information available, even if this meant a delay in production. To ensure no marks were deducted from my dissertation, I contacted my course director and personal tutor two weeks before my dissertation due date to discuss my particular situation…Although my work was delayed, I feel that this delay was justified in that the work was of the highest quality it could be. Furthermore, I sufficiently organised myself in relation to my department and tutors, so that all relevant people were aware of a possible delay in the production of my dissertation.”
Answer 2: Negative justification for missed deadline
“During my final year at university I failed to deliver my dissertation on the due date. This was because I was ill for a couple of weeks during my final semester.”
Answer 3: Negative justification for missed deadline
“During my final year at university I failed to deliver my dissertation on the due date. One of my worst characteristics is poor organisation, especially in relation to time.”