How to Answer this Specific Question: “Describe a Time When Something Unfortunate Happened at Work”
You should say:
- What happened
- When and where it happened
- How the people you work with reacted
And explain how and what you were feeling during that time
Sample Response 1:
“We’ve all had a fair share of something unfortunate that happened at work. Some are minor, while others aren’t. Today, I’d like to share with you about a time when my laptop broke down a day before a very important presentation.
What happened was that I was working late at night on a project on my laptop. It was a Thursday. I stayed late at work so I could finish the presentation. Besides, all the papers that I would be needed were in the office and I didn’t want to bring them home. I was so exhausted that I fell asleep. When I awoke after a few minutes, my laptop was lying on the floor, most likely because it fell over while I was sleeping. I picked it up right away, only to discover that the laptop’s screen had a large crack in it. I tried turning it on, but it would not turn on. I was in a horrible mood at the time, and no one was around to help me. They all had left.
So, I called my sister, who advised me just to go home so I could use her laptop instead. I couldn’t bring the laptop to a shop as they were all closed by that time. It was so frustrating. My laptop was broken, I was exhausted, and to make matters worse, I had to start over, hours before the presentation. I was able to finish the presentation with the help of my sister but the laptop wasn’t fixable. I had to buy a new one. Because of what happened, I’m much more cautious about how I use my laptop. I guess I had to learn my lesson the hard way.”
Follow-up Question :
How do you usually react to stressful situations?
“Well, I try to be as calm and composed as possible. I know it’s hard especially when you are stressed, but it’s what we should do. I also try to have breathing exercises for a few minutes, and trust me; it helps a lot. It’s something I’ve learned from a video I came across years ago.”
When something bad happens at work, should an employee inform their boss right away?
“In my opinion, yes, the best thing for the employee to do is tell his or her boss as soon as possible because if there’s one person who could fix them, it’s their superior. Also, it is only right that whenever something happens, especially if it’s something that needs urgent attention, the boss should be informed. This is done to not jeopardize the company and everyone’s position.”
Sample Response 2:
“Today, I’d like to share with you an incident that happened at work about a year ago. I still clearly remember this incident taught me a lot of lessons. I was then an assistant to the supervisor in one of our company’s branches in Kuala Lumpur. It happened in my second year of working there.
One of my job responsibilities was to receive calls from the supervisor and transfer them to his desk. On times that he was not around, I get the message for her and relay it to her afterward. I was doing it well for some time until one day, I received a call from my brother informing me that he met with an accident. I was so worried and concerned, but I couldn’t leave work. It was a hectic day. Anyway, that day, the supervisor had a lot of meetings to attend and one of them was an out-of-town meeting.
On her way to the venue, she sent me a message asking if it was true that the meeting had been canceled. I froze. I forgot to inform her! I was so distracted that my brother met an accident that I wasn’t able to check everything for her that day. I told the supervisor what had happened, and she was really understanding of the situation. I was relieved. She even let me leave work early that day to visit my brother. However, I learned a lesson that day. There would be times when our personal lives would interfere with work, but we must not allow them to obstruct our ability to do our tasks.”
Follow-up Question :
What traits do you want in a superior?
“I’d like for a superior to be compassionate, firm, and decisive. I think that those are the important traits every superior should have to be able to lead more effectively. Also, I’d like for them to be approachable and relatable so I wouldn’t be intimidated.”
How do you deal with something unfortunate happening at work?
“We are only humans, and no one is perfect. We all commit mistakes. That’s a fact. So, when something unfortunate happens at work, may it be because of me or other employees, I just try to remember that and as much as possible, try my best to learn from it and not make the same mistakes.”