Question 29. Tell me about a time when you had to adjust your priorities to meet someone else's higher priority.

situation: Every day I create a to-do list that helps me prioritize the day's activities. One particular day I was going to make follow-up calls to generate new clients. Right after the day started, I received a call from a client who said that their system was down. A technician was on his way to fix the problem, but since I was the one who sold her the equipment a week earlier, she wanted me on-site as well.

action: To maintain goodwill, I put aside my to-do list and served as the liaison between the client and the technician.

result: Later on that day, I received a call from the client's manager. He personally thanked me for taking the time to ensure that the system was up and running. When the company was ready to upgrade, I received the call to make that sale.

Question 30. Describe the culture of your organization and provide an example of how you work within this culture to achieve a goal.

situation: In the organizational culture of the company I work for, employees are often required to work after normal hours. For example, as the organization partners with community businesses and participates in outreach events, I am required to attend those events in the evenings and on weekends.

action: To strike a balance between my personal and professional life, I negotiated flex time whereby I could take late and extended lunches so I could attend my daughter's soccer games.

result: The arrangement worked well because I was able to support my daughter and also meet the demands of the department and community-involvement initiatives.

Question 31. Give an example of a time when your patience was tested. How did you handle it?

Obstacle: When I worked for the Citizenship Enterprise, the media department had an affinity for meetings. We had two meetings per week, and most were unproductive because the head manager resisted planning in advance. His thought was that unstructured meetings led to greater creativity, and although his philosophy had merit, unfortunately in practice this hardly ever worked in his favor.

action: In an effort to increase productivity, I started to e-mail him the talking points I wanted to broach during the meeting, and I asked for his input on these. After a few weeks, he began to request that all team members e-mail him their agendas for the meetings.

result: As a result, the meetings were structured, and we were able to get more done in less time; regular meetings were reduced to two per month, as well.

Question 32. Describe a time when you were on the verge of completing a task and were asked to abandon the project for another project.

situation: This is a common occurrence in the conference-catering business. There are a lot of activities to manage, from preparing standardized recipes to communicating with the general manager. One particular time, the kitchen equipment at Nickel and Wood Country Club failed one hour before guests were set to arrive. I was in the meeting hall supervising the layout of the room when I received notice of the breakdown.

action: Since I could not be in two places at the same time, I walked my assistant through the arrangement requirements and asked her to monitor the execution of the plans while I went to find a technician to come fix the equipment on short notice.

result: I made several phone calls and requested a favor to get a qualified technician onsite, who agreed to keep the cost down while completing the work quickly. By the time the guests arrived, everything was in place and no one had a clue of the mishap that had occurred right before their arrival.

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