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by Vault Careers | November 10, 2020


hands together

One way to begin this is answer is by saying that you’ve gained a lot of experience leading teams and groups in college and in your past jobs, and have encountered this situation a few times. Then you could say that you’ve found the key first step to dealing with an underperforming colleague was honest communication. After that, here’s what a good answer might look like:

“In one of my past experiences, I met with the co-worker privately, explained my concerns about the quality of his work, and asked him to explain the cause of the problem. You’d be surprised at what a little honest one-to-one conversation can do. The co-worker said he knew that his work had been subpar lately but was afraid to address the issue with me and other members of the team. He told me that he simply felt overwhelmed by the project and that his concentration might also be affected by the fact that he had just become a new father and was only getting three hours of sleep a night. (In other situations, employees have told me that they didn’t understand the assigned tasks or that they were having trouble with a difficult colleague who was a key member of the project team.)

“Once the channels of communication were open, I then devised a solution to address the issue. In this instance, I reviewed the project with the co-worker and asked him to identify any problem areas. I also allowed him to work a flexible schedule that better fit with his new role as a father. I then revisited the project with the entire team to ensure that all aspects were understood, the deadlines were realistic, and work duties were fairly allotted among the staff. The project was completed on time, and the ‘problem co-worker’ prospered as a result of the more open lines of communication and the adjustment of his work schedule.”