Question 128. Describe a time when you prepared for an obstacle in order to prevent it.

obstacle: Being a consultant is a double-edged sword. Management brings me in because there are business problems that need solving, but at the same time most of them are reluctant to take the recommendations because of a fear of change, preferring to see only negatives. When Torres, Morales, and Rodriquez Law Offices brought me in to revitalize their organization, I wanted to avoid the resistance that previous clients had demonstrated to any new ideas.

action: I conducted thorough client-needs assessments that asked management to reflect on changes made in the past that were unsuccessful. This approach not only gave me valuable information about the corporate culture but also gently prodded management to seriously consider my recommendations.

When I presented a new idea, I asked the attorneys for only one thing: to love the idea for fifteen minutes; during that time we discussed only the positives of the plan.

result: This fifteen-minute rule kept clients' minds open enough to see the idea's advantages, and ultimately the firm agreed to implement the majority of my recommendations.

Question 129. Describe a time when you were unable to meet management expectations. What did you do about it?

obstacle: I was assigned to implement a smoking cessation program at work. After putting together a comprehensive, facilitated program, I showed it to my manager. He didn't think the program would attract enough employees, and expressed interest in offering monetary incentives instead.

action: I researched case studies and found that monetary incentives increase enrollment in such programs. I showed the results to my manager, and we agreed to move ahead with an incentive-based program.

result: Two hundred employees joined the program, the majority quit smoking in the short term, and thirty quit for good.

Question 130. Give an example of a situation in which your greatest weakness negatively impacted a relationship or a project you were working on.

situation: My e-mail communications were known to be unintentionally short and curt. Co-workers were used to my terse writing style; however, customers were not. One time, a client e-mailed me, inquiring about a new service the company had launched. In my response, I pointed her to the Web site where the features and benefits of the service were described. The client took my reply as a lack of interest in her continued business.

action: Though I was able to salvage the relationship, after that incident I enrolled in an e-mail communications course to ensure that my electronic correspondences accurately reflected my intentions.

result: This is a problem I am still working to correct. When I find that my e-mail messages are coming across negatively, I pick up the phone and explain.

Question 131. Recall a time when you invested time or money in developing your career.

situation: I was an executive assistant at Philanthropic Enterprise for a few years, and I wanted a position in the corporate fund-raising division. Though the department had openings, the position required experience in soliciting donations. To gain experience, I approached the owner of a local animal shelter and offered to launch a pro bono event to raise money. He readily agreed to the idea.

action: During my lunchtime, after work, and on weekends, I networked with people from the local chamber of commerce to secure sponsors and a location for the event. I also contacted local newspapers to provide publicity.

result: The event raised $2,800 for the shelter. When another position at Philanthropic Enterprise opened up, I leveraged my experience during an internal job interview and received the promotion.

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