Tell Me About a Time You Needed to Get Information from Someone who Was Not Responsive

How you answer this question depends on your level of seniority. For a junior individual, you might talk about and I’m going to use an acronym STAR– situation, task, action, result. 

You were assigned a project and your responsibilities on the project were to do such-and-such. Notice, I’ve already covered the situation and tasks. With that, you’ve reached out to different managers who were not particularly responsive and you understood that they were being pulled in a lot of different directions and you seem like the least important person on their priority list.

So, what you did was . . . and go one of two different ways . . . you initially talked about it. For example, you tried to wheedle and cajole to see if you could get small increments of time from them so you could extract what you needed from them. When that didn’t work or when that only worked to a limited degree, you got your boss involved with the process so they could operate at the same level or from a higher level than this individual so you could get what you needed. That’s one answer to the question.

But, let’s assume you are that boss, you are that VP, director, or whomever, and you’re not getting support from a colleague who’s had a peer level. You have to deal with it a little differently.

You have to talk about meeting with this individual or getting on to their calendar for thirty minutes and saying, “Look, this is information that we’ve agreed is necessary for this project to complete. What I’m looking for is such-and-such.” So you’re getting on to the calendar.

If they say, “I don’t have time right now,” when do I have to? When do you have time? I’m on the calendar. Let’s get as much done now so I can start moving ahead because you need this. I’m working for you here and you’re telling me that you can’t make time for something that you’ve agreed that you need me to deliver.”

Then, worst comes to worst, you can always go for the more senior individual to get them involved so that, if you’re talking to a peer, what you’re able to do is try and impress upon them the importance of what you’re doing to serve them, and, if necessary, escalating it.

No matter how it works, it’s the idea of impressing upon the other in person the importance of knowing that they’re getting pulled in a lot of different directions. So the result winds up being you can’t just accept at face value getting pushed away. You have to ultimately get this other person to comply and, if they won’t, work with your boss to get it solved.


Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2020



Jeff Altman, The Big Game HunterJeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1800 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

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Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
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