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Adaptability Interview
Questions

15 Questions and Answers by Rachelle Enns

Updated June 29th, 2018 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
Question 1 of 15
When you suffer a setback, how does that emotionally affect you and your work?
View Answers
How to Answer
The interviewer would like to know how you react when it comes to setbacks in the workplace. Everyone handles the stress and disappointment of setbacks differently. Discuss with the interviewer how you typically cope with delays in the workplace.
15 Adaptability Interview Questions
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  1. When you suffer a setback, how does that emotionally affect you and your work?
  2. When have you had to adapt to change in the workplace?
  3. When have you had to change a major component of your project due to new information being presented?
  4. What was the biggest change you have had to deal with in your career?
  5. When have you been asked to perform a function or complete a task in which you had little or no experience in doing?
  6. When have you had to think quickly in response to sudden change?
  7. When have you faced an unexpected difficulty?
  8. When have you shown a willingness to learn a new method?
  9. Tell me about a time when you made a suggestion requesting change in an organization.
  10. When change occurs in the workplace, do you naturally adjust or do you first think of the worst?
  11. When have you had to shift your priorities in response to sudden changes?
  12. How do you react to an increase in your workload?
  13. Do you prefer doing work on a routine day-to-day basis or do you prefer mixing up your routine?
  14. When planning, how often do you create alternative scenarios to help you adjust to changing situations?
  15. If your current company shut down today, what would you do to quickly adapt?
15 Adaptability Answer Examples
1.
When you suffer a setback, how does that emotionally affect you and your work?
The interviewer would like to know how you react when it comes to setbacks in the workplace. Everyone handles the stress and disappointment of setbacks differently. Discuss with the interviewer how you typically cope with delays in the workplace.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Experiencing a setback is always disappointing, and can be a bit disheartening, but I understand that it happens from time to time. If I experience a major setback, I will take a few moments to debrief with my manager and discuss what I could have done differently. Then, I move on!"
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I allow myself a moment to be frustrated when a setback occurs, but never publicly. I may go for a quick walk on my lunch break, for instance. When a setback occurs, I prefer to take from the experience rather than have it take energy away from me."
Anonymous Answer
"It affects me emotionally and also has some effects on my job. However, I will try my best to control all unintended situations that cause problems."
Rachelle's Answer
Try focusing your response on a more positive aspect of change. Unfortunately this answer would create more questions than answers, and would be a red flag to the interviewer. I have provided an example for you.
"Setbacks can be emotional, especially because I put so much effort into what I do at work. I do my best to remain professional and in control in all situations, and am sure to learn a lesson from setbacks whenever possible."
Was this answer helpful? Yes (2) or No (1)
2.
When have you had to adapt to change in the workplace?
The interviewer would like to know about a time you were required to adapt to change in the workplace. Being able to adapt to change in the workplace is an essential skill to possess because change is inevitable. Talk to the interviewer about a time when you have had to adjust to changes on the job. How did you handle the transition? Was it a positive reaction?

Rachelle's Answer #1
"In my current role there is a lot of staff turnover when it comes to our management team. I have had to adapt to 3 new managers in the past four years. It is not the ideal situation, but I can adjust for the good of the team."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Last year our company was sold to a competitor, and a lot of our management team changed hands. It was a lot of change to handle in a short time, especially being unsure of who to report to ahead of others. I am resilient, though, and have made the big changes work by keeping my head down and delivering great work, no matter who it goes to in the end."
3.
When have you had to change a major component of your project due to new information being presented?
The interviewer would like to know about a time that you had to change the path of a project due to new information. Being able to swivel the focus of your project is a necessary skill for success in most careers. Talk to the interviewer about a time when a significant change occurred on the job. How did you handle the implementation of the new information?

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Last year we saw new federal regulations come through which affected 80% of our ongoing projects. We had to adjust our plans quickly; however, we were able to deliver a timely product that met federal regulations."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"As an administrative professional, my projects are often derailed by other people's schedules running late, deliveries not arriving on time, or vendors not pulling through. Although I am not usually the lead on projects, I do put a great deal of finishing work on the projects that come out of our office so, when deadlines pass, it affects me as well. I keep a positive outlook and work very hard to exceed expectations wherever possible."
4.
What was the biggest change you have had to deal with in your career?
The interviewer would like to know the types of challenges you have had to face in your career. You need to show the interviewer that you can remain productive in the face of change and that you are resilient. Assure the interviewer that you can adapt to significant changes in a professional manner.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"The biggest change that I have faced in my career so far would be when my previous company went through a major merger. We had to adapt to new processes and management which was quite challenging. In the end, it worked out well for the company, in a financial perspective, so the changes were well worth the challenges we faced initially."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"The biggest change in my career was learning to report to an entirely new management team when we merged with a competitor. It's difficult to adjust, but I was able to keep an open mind, and met some great new people."
5.
When have you been asked to perform a function or complete a task in which you had little or no experience in doing?
The interviewer would like to know about a time when you were asked to take on a task for which you knew very little. Have you ever had to take on a responsibility or a role that you felt was over your experience level? Talk to the interviewer about a time when you have dealt with this type of situation. Include the outcome, and what you learned.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"When my manager went on unexpected medical leave for three months last year I was asked to step into her position in the interim. I knew the basics but was certainly not trained on the specifics of the role. I was able to take it on successfully by leaning on my team, reading a lot of company manuals, and asking many questions. Once my manager returned she was very pleased with the progress that I made. This success resulted in a promotion!"
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am often asked to perform tasks outside of my wheelhouse. These tasks include customer dispute resolution and interviewing potential new employees. I am a diverse employee and am happy to take on additional functions."
6.
When have you had to think quickly in response to sudden change?
The interviewer would like to know that you can adapt to sudden changes in the workplace. Change is par for the course in any work environment. Assure the interviewer that you are capable of responding quickly, and professionally, to unexpected situations.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I can think quickly on the job, and I do respond well to sudden change. Last week I was asked to tweak a presentation with just 30 minutes notice. The changes were significant, but luckily I work well under pressure. The presentation went well, and our clients were delighted."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I have to think quickly to change every time there are scheduling changes with the Executive whom I support. Most often, this related to delayed flights or changes in travel plans. I have all the major airlines on speed dial, as well as a variety of professional drivers on hand as a backup. This preparedness ensures that my boss can attend all meetings on time, despite travel hiccups."
Anonymous Answer
"I decided to move into a lateral position to swiftly help with a growing demand for service within that department. I made that decision based on whether or not it would be a wise career move and how helpful I could be in the role."
Rachelle's Answer
Your answer shows an ability to think quickly but logically, while considering the good of the company. Nicely put!
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7.
When have you faced an unexpected difficulty?
How you face unexpected difficulty can say a lot about your character. Talk to the interviewer about a time when you have encountered stress in the workplace. Show that you are capable of professionally handling the unexpected!

Rachelle's Answer #1
"The biggest unexpected difficulty that I have faced was my unexpected lay off during the last recession. I had to adapt to a new economy and search deeply for other skills and opportunities. I was able to earn enough to avoid financial strain and am quite proud of my ability to be versatile when required."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Unexpected situations happen very often in my current position. For instance, just last week, we had major changes in industry regulations which changed how we could invoice our clients. I worked overtime with the Accounts Receivable department to ensure we complied with the change. It was stressful, but we made it happen."
8.
When have you shown a willingness to learn a new method?
The interviewer would like to know when you have shown a willingness to learn new work methods. With changes in technology and policy, most professionals will need to alter their way of work from time to time. It is a great skill to have when you can approach a problem in a new way.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"When our company came under new management last year many new methods and policies came into place. I was able to learn many new approaches to our challenges in sales and customer management. I quite enjoyed the process, and it brought a sort of fresh air to my daily routine."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Our company switched to an SAP system last year, which I was not familiar. I enrolled myself in a 4-week evening course at our local community college so that I could quickly learn the system without it affecting my performance at work. It helped a great deal, and my employers were impressed with my willingness to learn."
Anonymous Answer
"I am always willing to learn a new method as long as it increases efficiency and productivity. One such case involved creating a more efficient workflow for client management. This involved testing out a variety of management modules such as Gantt charts and determining how we could properly employ them for full client visibility."
Rachelle's Answer
Perfect response, and an excellent example.
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9.
Tell me about a time when you made a suggestion requesting change in an organization.
The interviewer would like to know about your level of comfortability with change. In addition to being able to handle change, can you also recognize when change is required and be confident enough to present that to your organization? Talk to the interviewer about a time when you were able to suggest change in the workplace.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Last year when I was managing dispatch I noticed a pretty solid opportunity for us to save on overtime hours. I created a presentation and gave it to my manager who took it to upper management. The changes were implemented, and I was very proud of the suggestion that I made."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Our company did not have a strong policy when it came to workplace harassment and bullying. I was able to work with the leadership team to create a new program which has been readily welcomed by our staff."
10.
When change occurs in the workplace, do you naturally adjust or do you first think of the worst?
The interviewer is looking to see if you are a naturally positive person, or if you air on the side of cynicism. When a change occurs in the workplace do you view it positively or do you resist the change?

Rachelle's Answer #1
"When workplace change occurs I initially try to balance the pros and the cons before reacting. Overall I would say that I prefer to focus on why the changes will work. I am a positive person by nature."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am happy to adapt to changes as long as they make sense and help with productivity. I am a team player and will always choose the positive side of things rather than dwelling on the potential difficulties."
11.
When have you had to shift your priorities in response to sudden changes?
The interviewer would like to know how you handle sudden shifts in priorities. Do you become uber-focused on the task at hand, or are you willing to drop what you are doing, and switch priorities? Discuss a time when you have been asked to change your priorities on a dime.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"In my current role, our schedule is changed on a regular basis and always at short notice. I have been able to adapt very well to these frequent, sudden changes."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Each time my boss changes his schedule, I need to drop what I am doing and rearrange his meetings or travel plans. These changes happen quite often, so I very well know that a schedule made is not always a schedule kept."
Anonymous Answer
"When was I was in production, sudden changes were par for the course, and I would shift priorities on the fly to accommodate the immediate need. While working on Survivor, I would be in the office helping coordinate crew travel and shoot location procurement (calling in local resources), and nothing ever went to the exact plan."
Rachelle's Answer
Your response shows that you are no stranger to sudden change. Wonderful example - well done.
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Anonymous Answer
"When I was working as a shipping coordinator, sometimes warehouse people asked me to help with their packaging. They were short staff, and I helped them as much as I could. I know how to switch priorities."
Rachelle's Answer
It seems that you are an excellent team player, as well! Your answer is great because it showcases a variety of skills and characteristics.
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12.
How do you react to an increase in your workload?
Workloads will increase and decrease as the market demands. The interviewer would like to know how you adapt when the work starts to pile up. Show that you are willing to work faster, put in overtime, or take work home when needed. You will also want to express your time-management abilities.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I fully understand that my workload will increase from time to time and I easily accept that. Personally, I prefer it when times are busy, so I do not mind an increase in workload now and then."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"In my current position, my workload changes depending on the team and their needs. I can adapt to those needs quickly and effectively. Just last week I had two team members who were sick, and my workload increased significantly. I worked overtime and met my deadlines."
Anonymous Answer
"I always make sure to accommodate any increase in workload to keep things moving. If that requires staying late or working weekends, I make sure to manage that accordingly. I've had coworkers leave on vacation, and I've helped cover their client base until they return."
Rachelle's Answer
Your response shows a true dedication for your job. You've presented very admirable solutions.
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13.
Do you prefer doing work on a routine day-to-day basis or do you prefer mixing up your routine?
The interviewer would like to know your preference when it comes to a predictable versus an unpredictable work routine. Discuss with the interviewer if you are the individual who prefers to know what the method will be for the day, or if you thrive on the challenge and excitement of unpredictability. It's best to display a balance between the two, using the most current position in your answer.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I prefer working in a more predictable environment because I can be more effective in my tasks. With that said, I can certainly work in an unpredictable environment from time to time. My current role is primarily predictable with a few surprises coming from head office a couple of times per week. These can include scheduling changes, new policies, or additional clients."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am comfortable either way, but I would probably grow bored if nothing ever changed. Having a few days of status quo now and then is good for my sanity though."
14.
When planning, how often do you create alternative scenarios to help you adjust to changing situations?
Being able to problem solve and think outside the box when it comes to changing situations is a valuable skill set. Talk to the interviewer about your ability to create a variety of potential scenarios. You may never need to take on these scenarios; however, it's great for the interviewer to know that you can adapt your plan on the fly.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I feel that it is essential to create alternative scenarios in all situations. One cannot guess what will happen in the end, so it is great to prepare for all possible outcomes."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"As an administrative professional, it's essentially my biggest job requirement to be ready to adapt at all times. I always have a Plan B and C ready to go. This level of preparedness is part of what makes me so valuable in my current role."
Anonymous Answer
"I always like to have two or three options in the wings just in case all else fails. It helps to minimize any potential disasters by having a secondary option at the ready."
Rachelle's Answer
This response is exactly what the interviewer is looking for. If you have an example of a time you had to move to plan B, or even plan C, feel free to add in a brief story.
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15.
If your current company shut down today, what would you do to quickly adapt?
The interviewer would like to know more about your ability to adapt and thrive, in stressful situations. This question is hypothetical, so you'll likely need to use your imagination when answering. Show the interviewer that you are capable of adapting to a tough situation.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"If my current company shut down today I would tap into my network, call everyone I knew, and look for a company that needed someone with my skillset. I wouldn't let it get me down, and I would certainly hit the ground running in my job search."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"If my company closed down, with no notice, I would register as a temporary admin assistant right away. Before landing this full-time position, I worked temporary roles for nearly a year. Although it was hard not knowing what work would be available, and when - it was fun to have the variety. I would make the best of the situation."
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