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SGI recruitment consultants Ashley Holinaty, Tara Boutin, Jenny Ly, and Cody O'Watch talk about how to answer an interview question that forces a candidate to tell them about a time when they weren't able to address a certain customer request.
Tell me about a time when a demanding customer came to you with an unreasonable request for service that you couldn't address.
Recruiters seek the best qualified candidate: hiring people who demonstrate behaviors that align with the values of their organization. So why would we ask a question that forces a candidate to tell us about a time when the result may not have been favorable? Wouldn't we be looking for someone who demonstrates behaviors to get the job done right? Of course, but the perception of what's right can be misleading.
The first, most recent example that comes to mind is usually the best answer.
I worked front desk at XYZ hotel. We had no vacancy and a gentleman without a reservation wanted a room. He was irate.
Focus on what you did, not we or our team. Focus on techniques used, go the extra mile, listen, empathize, and expand using detail.
I actively listened to him rant and instead of telling him what I couldn't do, I thought of things I could. I phoned alternate options, including a B&B. I asked one motel and one B&B to hold their rooms for 10 minutes. I explained to the man, ÔÇÿI have some options. While they aren't with us, I've found a room at the 123 Motel in the West and the Jane-Doe Bed and Breakfast in the East.' He chose the B&B. I booked his room and called a taxi.
Ease the negative impact. Discuss customer and management follow-up.
The gentleman said he preferred to stay with us, but accepted the B&B. He apologized for raising his voice and when I helped him load his luggage into the taxi, he thanked me.
Interviewers look for candidates to provide a response where the answer's not easy. This provides opportunity to assess your ability to handle conflict and keep the situation positive. Easier said then done, but that's where the role of the interviewer becomes crucial. A good interviewer will put you at ease, build rapport, make you comfortable, gather information, and will do so in a way that supports you and tries to minimize the negative information.