Tough Interview Question - Describe a situation where you had to request assistance on a project or assignment

Describe a situation where you had to request assistance on a project or assignment.

Similar interview questions:
How and when do you ask for help?
What do you do when you get stuck in your work?
Tell me about a time where you needed the help of others.
How long do you wait before asking for assistance?

Why the interviewer is asking this question:
This is a work productivity balance question. The interviewer wants to know that you are both willing to request help if and when needed, but that you also are not highly dependent on others for completing your work. So the interviewer is looking for the ability to work independently while also seeking guidance and direction at appropriate times.

The best approach to answering this question:
Select a project or assignment which you could not have reasonably completed on your own, where you requested help from others in an appropriate way, maximizing both your productivity and the productivity of the person assisting you.

An example of how to best answer this question for experienced candidates:
"In my current role, I was assigned to develop a new feature for our software which would involve a system call to an API with which I had not worked previously. So I started doing research to understand the API and logged my questions as I went. Some of the questions I was able to solve on my own through further independent research, but there were two questions where I needed help from one of the Principal Engineers on our team. I sent him an e-mail with the questions and asked if he wanted to meet or just go back and forth on e-mail. He said it would be quicker to meet, so we met later that afternoon for a quick scrum session to map out how the feature would perform relative to the API. He was very helpful and was able to answer both of my questions right away, as well as give additional suggestions for further improving the overall feature design…"

An example of how to best answer this question for entry level candidates:
"On my recent internship, my primary project hit a roadblock where it couldn’t be completed without the help of someone in another department. I first went to my mentor to ask how she would approach the situation. She offered to coordinate a brief meeting with the key person in the other department. She also gave me a list of information I needed to have ready and prepped for that meeting. She scheduled the meeting a couple days out, which gave me the time needed to gather and assemble the key information. At the meeting, I was able to make my request based upon data, which made it easy for the person from the other department to see the need to make a small change to accommodate. I ended up finishing the project ahead of schedule and was even given another secondary project to complete with my extra available time…"

An example of how you should not answer this question:
"I’ve always been pretty dependent on one guy on our team to help me with my work. In fact, he’s going to be leaving the company soon, which is why I started looking for another job. I would be lost without him. So I hope there is someone available on this job who will be there to hand hold me on what I need to know and look over my work on a regular basis…"

Remember to answer each interview question behaviorally, whether it is a behavioral question or not. The easiest way to do this is to use an example from your background and experience. Then use the S-T-A-R approach to make the answer a STAR: talk about a Situation or Task (S-T), the Action you took (A) and the Results achieved (R). This is what makes your interview answer uniquely yours and will make your answer a star!

Further review: know the answers to these Standard Interview Questions to be fully prepared for your interview!

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