Tell me about a time you had to handle a crisis or emergency
- 1 Tell me about a time you had to handle a crisis or emergency
- 2 Other interview questions that are similar
- 3 What the interviewer is looking for by asking this question
- 4 How best to structure your answer to this question
- 5 What you should NOT do when answering questions
- 6 Tell me about a time you had to handle a crisis or emergency – Example answers
- 7 Other Interview Question and Answers
Other interview questions that are similar
- Describe an instance where you had to quickly adapt to an unexpected situation.
- Can you recall a moment where you took the lead during a high-pressure scenario?
- Share an experience where you effectively managed a difficult or urgent problem.
- What’s an example of a time when you had to make critical decisions under stress?
- Discuss a situation where you had to act swiftly to prevent a potential disaster.
- Tell me about a challenging event that required your immediate attention and resolution.
- Describe a scenario where you successfully navigated through a sudden, high-stakes challenge.
What the interviewer is looking for by asking this question
There are probably an infinite number of questions that the interviewer could ask you on the day. Some questions are incredibly common appearing in almost every interview you will have, while other questions you might hear once and never again regardless of how many jobs you apply for.
Fundamentally though all interview questions are really trying to find out one of 3 things:
1 – Can you do the job? (Do you have the skills/experience needed?)
2 – Will you do the job? (Do you have the drive/motivation to get the job done?)
3 – Will you fit in? (Does your personality match the workplace culture? Are you likeable?)
That’s it. Those are the 3 things that the interviewer is trying to ascertain. Every question that is asked of you will fundamentally be trying to resolve one (or more) of these 3 things.
When asked about handling a crisis or emergency in an interview, it’s a chance to showcase your problem-solving skills (Can you do the job?), your ability to stay driven under pressure (Will you do the job?), and how well you work with others during tough times (Will you fit in?). This question is a straightforward way for the interviewer to gauge these three key areas with a single, real-world example. Keep your answer focused and concise, highlighting these aspects.
How best to structure your answer to this question
Unless the question you are asked is a straight ‘up or down / yes or no’ style question then you are going to need to learn to describe, expand and elaborate on your answers. The best way of doing this is to follow the B-STAR technique for answering interview questions.
Answers using this method follow the below structure:
B – Belief – What are your thoughts and feelings with regard to the subject matter? In an interview, this helps reveal your mindset and emotional intelligence during a crisis, showing how you perceive and handle challenging situations.
S – Situation – What was going on? Briefly explain the scenario that was taking place. In your interview, quickly setting the scene of the crisis helps the interviewer understand the context of your actions and decisions.
T – Task – What was your role in the action? Most of the time it is best that you are taking an active rather than passive role in the encounter. In the interview context, this demonstrates your level of responsibility and initiative during critical moments.
A – Activity (or action) – What did you do? Detail the steps you took and why you took them. In an interview, this is your opportunity to highlight specific skills and competencies that you applied to manage the crisis effectively.
R – Result – How did everything end up? Try to use figures if possible. Sharing quantifiable outcomes in an interview shows the tangible impact of your actions and underlines your ability to contribute positively in emergency situations.
Remember though that the B-STAR technique is descriptive not prescriptive. You do not need to follow this flow strictly, go with what is best for your answers and that will allow you to put your point across and show your experience the best.
What you should NOT do when answering questions
Do not avoid the question – Addressing it shows your ability to confront challenges head-on.
Do not downplay the situation – Acknowledge its severity to demonstrate your problem-solving skills.
Do not overhype the situation – Stay realistic to showcase your level-headedness in crises.
Do not give a one-sentence answer – Elaborate to effectively highlight your role and actions.
Do not overly describe the scenario and miss the action – Focus on your actions to illustrate your competency.
Do not have a passive role in the situation – Active involvement indicates your initiative and leadership qualities.
Do not forget to mention what you learned – This reflects your capacity for growth and adaptation.
Tell me about a time you had to handle a crisis or emergency – Example answers
Example Answer 1 (Detailed)
“In my experience, staying calm and strategic during a crisis is crucial. At Tech Solutions, as the project manager, I faced a major crisis when, a week before our flagship software’s launch, we found a severe security flaw that could compromise user data.
My immediate role was to lead the response to this critical issue. I organized an emergency meeting with our tech team to assess the severity and develop a fix. We identified the root cause as a vulnerability in our encryption algorithm. I assigned our top developers to address this while I coordinated with the QA team to rigorously test the fixes.
I took a hands-on approach, regularly checking in on the progress and adjusting resources as needed to ensure we were on track. Beyond the technical fix, I communicated transparently with our clients about the issue and our steps to resolve it, maintaining their trust.
Our team worked tirelessly, and as a result, we not only fixed the bug two days ahead of the deadline but also enhanced the overall security of the software. The successful on-time launch led to a 20% increase in client satisfaction. This incident reinforced the importance of leadership, teamwork, and clear communication in effectively managing a crisis.”
Example Answer 2 (Shorter)
More Sample Answers…
The examples provided above can serve as a foundation for creating your unique answers. For additional inspiration, our new guide includes five sample responses to this question and over 250 answers to all of the most common interview queries.
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