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When have you had to shift your priorities in response to sudden changes?

1 of 15 Adaptability Interview Questions and Answers Written by Rachelle Enns

Updated on February 4th, 2019 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
How to Answer

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.

Professional Answer Examples
General
Answer example

"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."

Admin
Answer example

"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."

Manager
Answer example

"Every time I have an employee no-show to their shift, I have to shift the day's priorities. I will drop what I am doing, call in a temp or ask another employee to work overtime to cover for the loss. I work in a very reactionary industry and can resist the stress related to change, quite well."

Marketing
Answer example

"I had to shift my focus when I learned that we were acquiring a smaller competitor within the week. I had to change my plans to incorporate a new team, with new ideas, process, and procedures. Instead of working on the duties I had scheduled for the week, I had to bring our new team up to speed and integrate everyone. It was a stressful time, but I also learned how well I could adapt to sudden change."

Retail
Answer example

"Every time we receive a new delivery of stock, our team has to change focus on that. We receive the stock, enter the SKU's into the POS system, remerchandise, and place old stock on sale. All this, while our primary focus remains on the customer. It's a lot to juggle, but it's also fun to see the new items we are receiving."

Sales
Answer example

"Recently, I was given a new sales territory and team with pretty much zero notice. I was able to spend time bonding with my new teammates and learning from their expertise in the new-to-me area. By leaning on the team and being open to a new opportunity, I was able to grow as a salesperson and as a leader in the organization."

Teacher
Answer example

"Teachers have to shift priorities all the time. We do have our curriculum; however, any small change can completely throw your day. Students can be disruptive, fire alarm testing can occur, or half the class is out due to the flu. You never know what can happen! I change my lesson plans and volume of homework to work around these shifts so that students don't fall behind."

Law Enforcement
Answer example

"Law enforcement is a very reactionary career path so I am accustomed to being asked to shift my priorities often. It could mean a change in my work schedule, being asked to work overtime, or heading to one call and then being asked to attend another more urgent case. I have been able to adapt very well to these frequent, sudden changes."

Temporary Staffing Recruiter
Answer example

"I am often working on one staffing project when a client will call and tell me that someone didn't show up, or their temp staff member called in sick last minute. In those circumstances, I then have to drop what I am doing to find an immediate replacement. Doing so requires my full attention and a lot of time on the phone. I can quickly adapt, and fully understand how to juggle priorities while simultaneously handling urgent matters."

Concierge
Answer example

"I had to shift my focus when I learned that we were acquiring a smaller hotel competitor. I had to change my plans to incorporate a new customer service team, with new ideas, process, and procedures. Instead of working solely toward increased productivity, I had to back up work toward bringing our new team up to speed and integrate them into our processes."

Border Patrol Officer
Answer example

"Border patrol is a very reactionary career path, so I am accustomed to being asked to shift my priorities often. It could mean a change in my work schedule, being asked to work overtime, or being asked to attend another more urgent case. I have been able to adapt very well to these frequent, sudden changes."

Chiropractor
Answer example

"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."

Power Plant Operator
Answer example

"When my day unravels a bit due to unforeseen circumstances, I will take a minute to reassess my priorities. Asking for assistance where needed is also important, at times, to ensure that I am not taken off schedule too much. All in all, I handle unforeseen project and schedule changes quite well. It's always 'one step at a time'."

Technical Support Specialist
Answer example

"When my day unravels a bit due to unforeseen circumstances, I will take a minute to reassess my priorities. Asking for assistance where needed is also important, at times, to ensure that I am not taken off schedule too much. All in all, I handle unforeseen projects and schedule changes quite well. it's always one step at a time for me."

Radiology
Answer example

"Working in the medical field requires adaptability. I completely understand that, as a Radiologist, my daily schedule can be turned upside down quite quickly. My mindset has always been to complete any task that is given to me, based on an urgency basis."

Autopsy Assistant
Answer example

"When my day unravels a bit due to unforeseen circumstances, I will take a minute to reassess my priorities. To ensure that I am not taken off schedule too much I'll ask for assistance."

Accounting Clerk
Answer example

"During my regular duties, my manager rushed in one day looking frazzled. I asked if she was ok and she said that her boss had arrived two days early and none of the reports were ready. She asked me to drop everything and handed me a list of reports we needed. I sent urgent emails and started pulling query reports myself to gather as many of the reports as quickly as possible. We were able to get all the documentation to review with her boss pretty quickly and he was satisfied."

Activities aide
Answer example

"I actually have experienced a time that I had to report a co-worker to my supervisor. One of the patients that was involved in an activity I was overseeing reported to me that she wasn't feeling well. She told me that the nurse gave insulin her insulin without checking her blood sugar first. She told me and asked me not to tell anyone. However, I knew that patient safety is the responsibility of everyone. So, I did notify the supervisor."

Athletic Trainer
Answer example

"For the past year I have worked with a semi-pro baseball team. The priorities can change at any moment, depending on injuries that can happen during practice and games. I am very used to changing my priorities depending on the situation at hand."

Written by:

Rachelle Enns
Rachelle Enns is a job search expert, executive headhunter, career catalyst, and interview coach. Utilized by top talent from Fortune companies like Microsoft, General Electric, and Nestle, she helps professionals position themselves in today's competitive digital marketplace. Rachelle founded Renovate My Resume and Executive Resume Solutions, two companies focused on helping job seekers get their edge back. She helps everyone from new graduates looking for their first placement, to CEO's who want more out of their career. Rachelle coaches students to executives on how to master the toughest interview questions and how to handle the most bizarre interview situations; all with confidence and poise. Rachelle trains other career coaches, recruiters, and resume writers, globally. A big part of her job is also spent coaching HR professionals on how to bring the human touch back into their interview and hiring process.
First written on: 01/07/2017
Last modified on: 02/04/2019

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