MockQuestions MockQuestions

When have you taken an unusual risk in the workplace? What was the outcome?

1 of 25 Competency Interview Questions and Answers Written by Rachelle Enns

Updated on 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.
How to Answer

The interviewer wants to know that you are capable of taking calculated risks in the workplace and that you understand the difference between a calculated risk and a risky choice.

Think of a work-related risk, like trying out a new idea to solve a problem. You may even take on a new responsibility for which you are not trained, which is a little bit of a risk. Give an example that shows you are thoughtful and strategic when taking risks.

Do you weigh the pros and cons first? Are you considering how it will affect others? Do you believe in the company's bottom line? These are all things that the interviewer will be looking for in your answer.

Professional Answer Examples
Answer example

"Last month I took an unusual risk by taking an outside sales call when I am an inside sales employee. My client asked me to meet him because he had some additional business he was thinking of giving our company but wanted to make sure we had strong rapport before he handed the business over. I met him in person, and we got along so well that he gave me an additional $1M in annual business. I knew it was a risk because my boss preferred that I stay on inside sales accounts but I knew the reward was greater than the potential risk, so I took it. Well worth it!"

Answer example

"I once took a risk and rearranged the file room without asking. It seemed like we were running back and forth and I thought an alternate layout might make it run more efficiently. I was right. My boss commented on the layout and was impressed with my diligence."

Answer example

"I took a risk this year by hiring a candidate who did not meet all of the requirements for the job; however, she showed more initiative and grit than I had seen in a long time. I trained her on the areas for which she was lacking, and she ended up outperforming some of my more tenured staff."

Answer example

"I once took a risk to pivot my career out of marketing and into a sales role, with the intent of rounding out my business experience for future growth. It was a risk because it was something I had never done before and something I did not want to do long term. Having done it, it made me a better leader in the marketing director role I am in today."

Answer example

"Probably the most unusual risk I've taken was applying unsolicited to the current position I have. My boss, the owner of the company, didn't have a position posted but I reached out pitching my services. She said it was perfect timing, interviewed, and hired me. It goes to show that taking some unusual steps or risks are often worth it!"

Answer example

"I certainly took a risk by leaving my strategic account management position to take an entry sales position in another organization. While it was risky, I wanted to get into sales and a startup environment. My family thought I was nuts. It worked out great, as I got basic sales experience, and earned a promotion within months. I was then headhunted out of that position to a strategic senior account executive role."

Answer example

"I had put my neck out for a classroom teacher when a parent was complaining about how she handled a situation with her son. The teacher was a first-year teacher, and I was in the class at the time of the incident. It was controversial that I got involved, but I was not about to see a good teacher get railroaded for something that was not her fault. The outcome was positive, and though uncomfortable at first, it led to a great rapport between the mother and teacher once they were through the controversy. I am happy to have played a part in that and will always put myself in the crosshairs to do what is right."

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: 08/10/2016
Last modified on: 06/29/2018

More Interview Questions

Get More Interview Practice
Pick your topic
Ask the Interviewer
Questions you may consider asking the interviewer, about ...
We all have some behaviors that are typical of us and whi...
Common Interview Questions
There are some questions that employers ask at almost eve...
If you are interviewing for any type of leadership role; ...
Most interviews start with a telephone interview. Hiring ...
Everyone struggles with tough interview questions. Learn ...
View more interview questions