Change is prevalent in workplaces today, and interviewers want to know that you can embrace change. Perhaps your job duties shifted, there was a significant revision in policy, you had to welcome a new manager, or your company was acquired. These situations make great examples to draw on.
Behavioral-based interview questions that begin with 'Tell me about a time...' are best answered using the STAR method. STAR is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, Result. Organizing your response using this framework will ensure that you provide the interviewer with the right amount of information and detail to form a compelling answer.
Pick an example where you enjoyed the change, or where the result was positive. Explain how this change directly impacted your job and tell the interviewer how you maintained a positive approach during the transition.
"(Situation) Last year, we changed our patient check-in process. (Task) I was required to learn a completely new software system in a short amount of time. (Action) To tackle this challenge, I took a weekend-long online workshop to master the program. (Result) I encouraged my co-workers to do the same course, and it was beneficial for them as well."
"(Situation) At Company ABC, my management team was turning over due to a merger. (Task) I needed to avoid a layoff in the process. (Action) I began learning as much as I could about the new company, their style, and their leaders. These actions were to stand out as an enthusiastic team member. (Result) The leaders noticed my positive attitude, and I avoided layoff through the process."
"(Situation) Last year, my company shuffled around a lot of our team members under no notice. (Task) This shuffle meant that, overnight, the team of 40 that I was leading, became a team of 60. (Action) I had a great rapport with the current 40 and needed to come up with a fast strategy for connecting with the additional 20. I chose to throw a team-wide after-work event so that everyone had the opportunity to get to know each other and make meaningful connections. (Result) My idea worked like a charm, and everyone clicked right away, making the best of an abrupt situation."
"(Situation) We recently hired a new CEO with many credible years of experience in global marketing. (Task) This CEO's experience brings great value to my team; however, their leadership style is very different from the former CEO. For that reason, I had to work hard to help my team to adapt. (Action) I shared with my team that change is good. I shared my belief that it is important to adapt, or we risk falling behind as a group. (Result) My team trusts me, and they agreed by fully buying into the new CEO's approach. The situation has been highly positive so far."
"(Situation) My current company has very high turnover rates. On many occasions, I've had to adapt to a new manager. (Task) As the assistant manager, I've had to lead the proverbial 'welcome-committee' many times. (Action) I prefer to set an excellent example for the rest of my team, so I am quick to adapt and welcome any new managers, warmly. I am sure to provide them with the tools that they need to succeed. (Result) As a result, my team members follow suit and are kind, helpful, and welcoming as well."
"(Situation) When our sales team was appointed a new VP of Sales, it was a huge culture and organizational shock to everyone on the team. (Task) The change was tough at first because this VP seemed to be less experienced than the person in the role prior. Overall, it felt like a bad hire. (Action) I decided, however, to keep that opinion to myself. I wanted to get to know this VP and learn about her past successes. (Result) In only a few months, her contribution has been hugely successful for our SaaS business. My team and I have come to appreciate her insight and perspective."
"(Situation) The founding member of my schools' ESL program ran it for 20 years. So, when she left, it was a big change for us all. (Task) The subsequent chair was a high school French teacher, so it was a 180-degree change to which I needed to adjust. (Action) It took a period of adjustment and a summer full of meetings, but we came to respect and understand each other. (Result) Ultimately, the change was beneficial. Taking this person's outside experience, we were able to communicate more seamlessly with the older grade levels, thereby ensuring that the entire ESL department connected in its goals, targets, and program execution."
"Last year we upgraded to ICD-10. I was required to learn a completely new software system in a short amount of time. To tackle this challenge, I took a weekend-long online workshop to master the program. I find that when there is a major change in the workplace it's best to take the learning curve on as a positive challenge. I encouraged my co-workers to do the same course and it was really helpful for them as well."
"When my manager, who I truly valued, was replaced by someone who had a whole different approach to work. I needed to understand for myself and set goals about what I can learn from this person, and I succeeded well."
This would have been a tough situation! I recommend diving in a bit further on what you did to pivot your approach.
"When a company is growing and expanding, new people are hired, and personal gets switched around. I find that when I am given a new territory to manage and new people to report to, it's an opportunity for growth. I like to get to know the new folks right away by scheduling business plan meetings so that expectations are set, and we are all in alignment. I did this with a manager that was hired from outside of the company, and she told me that she appreciated the initiative I took to meet with her and set our common goals."
It sounds as though you can adjust your approach to many different career settings, with various expectations and goals. Good answer!
"We are currently going through a change with our dispatch system at my current job. Previously we were able to see all of our work for the day at one time and route ourselves throughout the day to the higher priority work. The system has now changed, so we only see one job and won't see the next job until our previous job is closed. I do not agree with the new process, but I've adapted to it to make sure I'm still able to complete all of my work for the day efficiently."
This process sounds like a pain, indeed! It's completely okay that you do not agree with this change. What is most important is that you respectfully disagree but have adapted, regardless. This answer shows a lot about your work ethic and character. Good work!
"We were asked to move from one side of the building to the other side of the building and went from 18' office space to 10' office space along with losing our common lab. I had to go through all the equipment in our work space to determine what equipment I had to have to do my job and what equipment I could do without since I didn't have the space to keep the equipment. We got moved over and it ended up being a good thing because we are closer to some other departments that we work frequently with."
Good answer! The interviewer will be glad to hear you found something positive in the situation. You may want to mention your reaction to the change. Was it difficult to accept but you recognized you needed to accept it? Did you understand the need for it? I reworded your response slightly to help with clarity.
"We were asked to move from one side of the building to the other side of the building and went from 18' office space to 10' office space along with losing our common lab. I had to go through all the equipment in our workspace to determine what equipment I had to have to do my job and what equipment I could do without since I didn't have the space to keep all of it. We got moved over, and it ended up being a good thing because we are closer to some other departments that we work with frequently."
"When we acquired a new drug distributor, it was a difficult transition because their reps were servicing some of our current accounts. How the transition was handled was that we would split up the accounts that had two reps. It was difficult to give up a few accounts with only retaining some others. Little or no quota adjustment was given to the reps that lost accounts, so I handled it by just working super hard to open up new accounts to get me back to where I was before the merger. I was able to do this by merely hard work and determination."
Lesser people would have complained or given up, but you kept going. Well done! It seems your attitude is an employers' dream.
"When I changed to be the CSS at another clinic, it was a significant change for me to be the only nurse with several responsibilities that I didn't have at my other job. I stayed late and did what it took to get the job done."
It sounds like you pushed yourself to learn new skills - could you talk a bit more about what those specific skills/responsibilities were?
"Major changes in the workplace, there was a time when a facility wanting to be ISO certified, because of this ambitious goal we had to organize ourselves a little differently. It was hard to concentrate on the work at hand with what seemed to be a daily change, towards ISO Certification. How I copped? I copped by discussing the matter with other colleagues and by staying a little later on some days to make up the work."
This response is a bit weak as far as how you coped. Dig in a bit deeper with what your discussions with colleagues were about. Were these organized meetings? Otherwise, this could sound like water cooler gossip. Also, there is no resolution. Did you achieve the goal of ISO certification? I have reworded this for you, below.
"One of our facilities wanted to be ISO certified, which is an ambitious goal. To adapt to the changes and properly handle the project scope, I ensured that our team met regularly. Clear communication, some late nights putting in overtime, and a great deal of organization are what got us the ISO certification in the end."
"When the recession hit back in 2010 I had to let a number of people go. All departments were affected. That was a big change as I had to take on a number of sales territories overnight. I had to prioritize my work, the customers, and find new and efficient ways of operating and communicating with the customers."
Very solid example! If there was a positive outcome, such as hitting your targets despite it all, be sure to highlight that as well.
"Our company was turning over and changing due to a merger. I was required to learn a completely new software system in a short amount of time. To tackle this challenge, I enrolled in their training program and devoted my downtime in mastering the program."
It seems you were very diligent and dedicated to learning this new software system! To bring the story to life even further, try adding in details on what the timeline was and the end result.
"After a merger, I saw a significant increase in the workflow of our lean department. I increased working hours and constantly developed priority lists so that we could efficiently meet all of our objectives. Additionally, every day we would reserve fifteen minutes to have a catch up meeting with the team for alignment purposes. All objectives were met, and even though we all had to work longer hours the team enjoyed the process."
It seems you took a lot of action to make this happen! Be sure to set the stage clearly by further outlining the situation and your exact involvement. When it comes to the result, if you can spend more time offering details, the overall answer would have a greater impact.
"There was a time at my job where we were short-staffed and had to juggle multiple roles. There were days where I had to help out with surgery when I was supposed to be doing kennel. So I made sure everyone in the kennel was fed and medicated first, helped with surgery, and finished cleaning in the kennel once I was done. Overall, it was stressful at times, but I know it made me more well rounded."
This would have been a huge challenge, indeed! You show a strong pattern of being eager to learn, and never backing down from a challenge. Good work!
"We had to implement a new claims system, and I had to teach everyone in the office the new system. There were still some bugs in it that I didn't like, but this was the way the company was going, so I decided to be a change champion and teach everyone the system despite the bugs. I was happy to be part of the upgrade and knew that there would be bumps along the road."
This would have been a significant challenge, for sure! It's wonderful that you took the positive approach to change, and helped others to do the same.
"The Merger process our company was undertaking saw a significant increase in the workflow to our otherwise lean department. I increased the working hours and constantly developed priority lists so that we could efficiently meet all the set objectives. Additionally, every morning, I would spare fifteen minutes to have a catch up meeting with the team for alignment purposes. All objectives were met and even though we all had to work longer hours the team enjoyed the process."
This example is strong! You do a great job highlighting your ability to organize others despite a generally stressful situation such as a merger.
"I'm currently adapting to change in the workplace. The new fiscal year just started and our district was completely realigned so we have a new district leader. I have been working with my previous district leader ever since I started pharmacy school and I have gained his respect with the work I have put in. I recently introduced myself to my new supervisor and offered my help for any upcoming projects. I will continue to build a strong relationship so that she recognizes me for my work."
Good answer. I just edited some grammar and sentence structure. This response shows you adapt to change well.
"I'm currently adapting to change in the workplace. The new fiscal year just started, and our district was realigned entirely, resulting in a new district leader. I had been working with my previous district leader since I began pharmacy school, so I have gained his respect over the years. I recently introduced myself to my new supervisor and offered my help for any upcoming projects. I will continue to build a strong relationship so that she recognizes me for my work as well."
"After our Facility closed I was transferred to the one next door. I had been on days for over 17 years; the only openings next door were for afternoons shift so I just had to adjust and know that eventually, I would have the opportunity to get back to days."
That would be a significant change! This is a great example of adjusting to change.
"When our institute went through a major restructure, there were many changes in processing and reporting procedures. I make sure that I adapt to the changes quickly by attending the related workshops and peer support, at the same time, I maintained my quality services to students and academic colleagues."
Excellent answer! The fact that you mention maintaining your quality of work despite change, is a nice touch.
"I faced a major change in my career when I got promoted from a trainer to a course coordinator. I was happy to be in that position, but many of my duties changed, from my old role to the new. I was moved from classes to the office, and I mainly worked on the computers. I made sure that I adapted to the changes quickly by attending meetings with the manager and attending PD. I also maintained my classes until they found an extra trainer."
This sounds like it was a significant transition for you! Good for you - taking control of this transition and being responsible for your own success.
"One major change in my career was when I received a promotion from the trainer to the course coordinator. I was happy to be offered this new role, but there were many changes in duties and responsibilities. I moved from a classroom to an office setting, and all of my work was done on the computer. I adapted to the changes quickly by attending meetings with the manager and attending PD."
"In 2010 with the new reform, my company changed from handwriting documentation to web computerized. It was a challenging change that I have to adapt to my new documentation, which was easier after all."
Great answer! This is a good example of a time when you didn't have a choice but to adapt to change. I like that you included that in the end the new process was easier.
"The company I work for is continuously updating and improving their EHR or policies. When it comes to changes, I'm flexible and adapt pretty well with change. I make sure to read all the new changes thoroughly, so I don't miss a step. I try to encourage my co-workers to do the same."
Being adaptable is a critical skill, and it seems you have a great amount of experience in doing so. You sound very confident!
"When I had to shift all the paperwork with an electronic system as I am a neat and tidy person myself, it was a complete mess. So I decided to form teams and give them a time slot to easily do their job and not be disturbed by the morning rush."
This is a good start! Try offering up some information in STAR format so that the story comes to life with detail, background, and results.
"I had worked with the same supervisor for three years; she was the most amazing, compassionate person I had ever met. I went to work one Monday to find out that she had a major stroke the weekend before. We had a substitute that would probably end up being our new supervisor. I try to tell myself that change is good, and we all need to learn to adapt to adverse situations. This was the first tough experience during my time as a nurse aide. Of course, I missed my supervisor, but I ended up changing and learning just as much with my new supervisor."
This would have been a tough situation, indeed. It seems that you were able to successfully adjust. This answer comes back to your positive mindset :)
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