During an interview, a hiring manager may ask you a series of questions about your soft skills. One soft skill they may be especially interested in is your ability to adapt in the workplace. Being adaptable means you’re flexible and are able to adjust to new situations.
In this article, we share eight common adaptability interview questions with sample answers to help you prepare for this potential question for your next job interview.
Adaptability interview questions with sample answers
Here are some adaptability interview questions and how you can effectively answer them:
1. Are you someone who can adapt to different work environments?
Interviewers may ask this question to see if you are comfortable working in a variety of work environments. For roles that require travel, this is an important skill for you to have. When answering this question, show the interviewer that you enjoy a change of scenery. Consider sharing all the different work environments you have experience with and how you managed to adapt to them all.
Example: “I would definitely say I am someone who can easily adapt to different work environments. My previous role required me to travel to different healthcare facilities around the country. I worked in all kinds of work environments, such as hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, outpatient clinics, and urgent care centers. I found that by making an effort to connect with the staff at each place, I could more easily adjust to each new environment. Getting to know each work environment‘s culture and processes was also an important part of adapting.”
2. Tell me about a time you had to learn a new task at work. What did you do to speed up the learning process?
This question gives interviewers more insight into your learning capabilities. They want to see that you have the ability to catch onto things quickly. When explaining your example, use the STAR method. This means that you describe the situation that occurred, the tasks that needed to be done, the actions you took, and the results you achieved.
Example: “In my previous role, the IT department switched us to a new content management system. While some of the writers were apprehensive about this change, I was eager to learn a new system, especially if it was going to make our workflow more efficient.
Since I knew the sooner I learned this system, the sooner I could get to work, I took it upon myself to ask the IT department to host a training session. They agreed, and many of the writers were thankful for this idea. By paying attention to the session and looking through supplementary materials, I had a working knowledge of the system within one workday.”
3. What are some challenges you experience when starting a new job?
Employers may ask this adaptability interview question to learn more about your mindset when starting something new. They want to see that a candidate can welcome new challenges and find ways to overcome them. In your answer, list one or two things that you find challenging when you start a new job. Then, explain how you adjust to them, emphasizing your positive attitude.
Example: “When starting a new job, the most challenging part is trying to assimilate into the company culture. Figuring out all the inside jokes, unwritten rules, and communication styles can be quite a challenge. While this is a challenge, it’s also an exciting opportunity, as I love getting to know new people. I find that by involving myself in group projects, company events, and other team-building activities, I can get to know everyone quite well. Since I know this can take a lot of effort, I always try to help out new hires once I am comfortable at my job.”
4. How do you stay motivated when taking on a new project or task?
Starting a new project or task can require a lot of effort and motivation. Employers might ask this interview question to see what strategies you use to be productive when adapting to new work. In your answer, list a few techniques you use to boost your motivation. These could include healthy habits, positive thinking or a personalized reward system.
Example: “When starting something new at work, I stay motivated by reminding myself that this an opportunity to grow. If something is challenging for me, this is my chance to develop new skills and knowledge. By using positive thinking in these situations, I feel driven to get started. Another way I motivate myself is by creating healthy habits. By getting enough sleep and exercising in the morning, I feel energized and ready to take on new things.”
5. Would you consider yourself open-minded?
Those who can adapt to changes tend to be open-minded. Employers ask this question to see if you welcome new ideas and opportunities. Show them that you are open-minded by sharing that you are interested in learning from others and trying new things. Explain that you are willing to listen to other’s thoughts and opinions in the workplace.
Example: “Yes, I am quite open-minded. While I have a strong set of values and morals, I am always willing to learn another person’s perspective on a topic or issue. By listening to others, there is a lot I can learn. My open-mindedness has made it possible for me to try new things and pursue different opportunities. By looking at the world through an open-minded perspective, I can continue to grow as an individual.”
6. Tell me about a time someone asked you to do something outside of your job description.
This question helps employers determine if you can be helpful during times of change. Every so often, you may need to help out your team by doing tasks outside of your official job description. Since you are sharing a real-life example, use the STAR method. Choose an example that shows you are willing to be flexible in order to help your team.
Example: “My previous company experienced rapid growth this past summer. Everyone understood that during this time, we all have to put in extra effort in order to reach our goals. My manager asked if I would be willing to help her onboard two new employees. While I had never trained new employees before, I saw this as a great opportunity to help my team. I made these new employees extensive training documents and supported them through the entire process. My manager was quite happy with their progress, telling me this was the most successful training program she had ever seen.”
7. Can you adjust your working style in team settings?
This question helps employers gauge your ability to work well with others. While you might have an independent working style, this question is your chance to show you can be collaborative when working with others. Explain that when working in a group setting, it’s your priority to achieve a common goal. Show that you can adapt to working with others to be successful.
Example: “Since I understand that everyone has a different working style, I find it important to be able to adjust my working style when I am collaborating with others. When working by myself, I find that I am quite logical and detail-oriented. When working with others, I try to be more mindful of people’s emotions and the bigger picture. By adapting to the working styles of my teammates, I find that we can achieve our goals better and find success.”
8. How would you help your colleagues adjust to company changes?
This question helps the interviewer determine if you are a leader in the workplace. This is your chance to show them how you can help your colleagues succeed in challenging situations. In your answer, show the interviewer that you would be patient and helpful in this kind of situation. Explain what steps you would take to help your coworkers become more adaptable.
Example: “As someone who can quickly adjust to changes, I would be eager to help my coworkers adapt to company changes. I would get started by asking them about which parts of the changes they are handling well and which changes they are struggling with. Once I figured this out, I would give them some advice on how to adjust to changes.
For instance, one tip I could give would be to stay patient. As time goes on, the changes will no longer seem that big. Second, I would tell them to see the changes as an exciting opportunity. I find that reframing my outlook on challenging situations helps me feel motivated to be more flexible at work.”
Tips for answering adaptability interview questions
Use these tips to show interviewers that you are an adaptable candidate:
Be positive. It’s important that you show employers that you can have a positive attitude when adjusting to changes. Use your examples to express that you see changes as an opportunity rather than a challenge.
Share examples. Sharing examples of times you were flexible to change can help employers envision how you might act in their job opening. Use the STAR method to explain a situation, your task in the situation, the actions you took, and the results you achieved.
Practice honesty. When sharing a story, make sure you are being honest about what happened. Employers may reference this story when contacting your references or ask you to provide more details at a later time.
Show your skills. Those who are adaptable use their problem-solving and critical-thinking skills to adjust to changes. You can also look through the job description to determine which skills to emphasize during your interview.
Be open-minded. Make it evident that you are interested in learning new ideas and processes. Use your answers to explain that you think it is important to listen to other’s thoughts and opinions.
Embrace the unknown. Part of being adaptable is being comfortable with the unknown. Show employers that you are flexible by expressing your desire to take on new tasks and risks.
Be confident. Preparing for common interview questions and doing mock interviews are great ways to become a confident candidate. Those who are confident may be more likely to stay calm when sudden changes occur.
I hope you find this article helpful.