Tell me about a time you improved a process or system
- 1 Tell me about a time you improved a process or system
- 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 improved a process or system – Example answers
- 7 Other Interview Question and Answers
Other interview questions that are similar
- Can you share an example of a process enhancement you’ve implemented?
- Describe a situation where you made a significant improvement to a system.
- Have you ever contributed to the optimization of a procedure? If so, please elaborate.
- Discuss a specific instance in which you enhanced the efficiency of a workflow.
- Can you provide a case where you played a role in refining an existing process or system?
- Tell me about a time when you took steps to streamline a procedure.
- Share an experience where you made positive changes to a system or process.
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.
Now, moving on to the question;, “Tell me about a time you improved a process or system.” This question primarily falls under the first category: “Can you do the job?” When you respond to this question, you’re demonstrating your ability to identify problems, take initiative, and contribute positively to processes or systems, showcasing your relevant skills and experiences. Providing a clear and concise example of your past achievements in process improvement will effectively address this aspect of the interviewer’s evaluation.
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? When reflecting on your beliefs about the subject, think about how these beliefs motivated you to improve a process or system in a past experience.
S – Situation – What was going on? Briefly explain the scenario that was taking place. In describing the situation, focus on setting the scene for the specific instance where you improved a process or system, ensuring it’s clear and concise.
T – Task – What was your role in the action? Clarify your role, emphasizing how it positioned you to take the lead in improving a process or system, demonstrating your proactive approach.
A – Activity (or action) – What did you do? When detailing your actions, concentrate on the specific steps you took to improve a process or system, and the reasoning behind each step.
R – Result – How did everything end up? In discussing the results, quantify the impact of your actions in improving a process or system, using clear metrics or outcomes to illustrate your effectiveness.
Quantify the results of your actions whenever possible, highlighting the impact of your improvements on metrics such as cost savings, efficiency gains, or any other relevant outcomes. This helps to demonstrate the tangible benefits of your efforts in enhancing the process or system, reinforcing your suitability for the job.
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 by diverting to unrelated topics.
Do not describe a failure without linking it to a learning experience that led to process improvement.
Do not downplay the significance of the process or system you improved.
Do not exaggerate the complexity or success of the improvement unnecessarily.
Do not claim to have no experience in improving processes or systems; instead, focus on related skills or experiences.
Do not reject the premise of the question by suggesting process improvement is unimportant.
Do not focus solely on team efforts without highlighting your specific contributions and actions.
Tell me about a time you improved a process or system – Example answers
Example Answer 1 (Detailed)
“My belief has always been that there’s always room for improvement in any process, no matter how efficient it appears. This mindset was particularly useful in my last role as a project manager at Tech Solutions Inc. We faced a situation where our software development cycle was taking longer than industry standards. Our team’s task was to decrease the cycle time without compromising quality.
I took the initiative to conduct a comprehensive analysis of our existing process. First, I organized a series of meetings with both the development and quality assurance teams to understand their challenges and bottlenecks. I observed that the delay was majorly due to the frequent, time-consuming back-and-forth communications between these teams.
To address this, I proposed a two-fold strategy. Firstly, I introduced a series of cross-functional workshops to foster better understanding and collaboration between the development and QA teams. This helped in aligning both teams towards common goals and reducing misunderstandings.
Secondly, I spearheaded the integration of a continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipeline into our workflow. I collaborated with the IT department to select the appropriate tools and trained both teams on how to effectively use this new system. The CI/CD pipeline automated a significant portion of code testing, allowing for quicker feedback and more efficient bug fixing.
Additionally, I implemented regular check-ins and feedback sessions to continuously monitor the impact of these changes and make adjustments as needed. This iterative approach ensured that the teams adapted well to the new process and any issues were addressed promptly.
These actions not only streamlined communication between the teams but also significantly reduced the time for detecting and fixing bugs. As a result, we managed to reduce our software development cycle by 30%, while also improving the code quality by 15%, as reflected in reduced post-deployment issues. This experience was a testament to how a well-thought-out change can dramatically enhance efficiency and productivity.”
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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