When interviewing for a new job, it’s important to show hiring managers that you are eager and ambitious to succeed in your role. During an interview, the hiring manager may ask you a series of interview questions that help them determine if you are someone who takes initiative in the workplace. By preparing for these kinds of questions, you can prove that you can add value to their company and make things happen. In this article, we share a list of interview questions about the initiative with effective sample answers.
Interview questions about the initiative (with sample answers)
Here are nine interview questions that employers might ask to assess your initiative and how to effectively answer them:
1. What would you do in your first month of working here?
Employers ask this interview question to see if you took the initiative and started thinking about what you might accomplish in this role. By having an answer prepared, you can show employers that you are ready to get started on your goals right away. You can answer this question by sharing one or two things you hope to accomplish when starting your new job. Make sure these examples are both ambitious and realistic. Do some background research to learn what would be helpful for the company.
Example: “Along with completing my training, I hope to make positive connections with all of my clients within the first month of working here. I understand that if I were to get this role, I would be taking over for someone who has been working here for five years. I want to use this first month to prove to clients that I can do an excellent job at serving their needs. I plan to meet with each of them and start brainstorming new initiatives my team could start implementing.”
2. Tell me about a time you took initiative.
Employers ask this question to see if you have any experiences where you used some initiative to get things done. This question is your chance to show that you are forward-thinking and proactive about what you do. Share a time when you made things happen on your own or when you took charge before other people did. Prove that you are someone who is always looking to do more for your employer. When sharing your example, use the STAR method, meaning that you explain the situation, tasks, actions, and results.
Example: “When working for my previous employer, I noticed that we didn’t have a good system for keeping track of client work. We actually did everything in a giant spreadsheet, which I felt wasn’t the best system. That’s why I took it upon myself to find a project management system that suited our team well. It took me about a month of searching and doing trial runs to find the perfect one. Once I implemented this system, my team members and clients were thrilled that we had a more user-friendly system and better-looking interface.”
3. Tell me about a time you improved a process or system.
This question helps employers gain insight into your problem-solving skills. They want to see that you can come up with ingenious solutions to everyday problems. Think about a time you took it upon yourself to make something better and more efficient. You can use the STAR method to frame the situation, discuss the tasks, explain your actions, and highlight the results.
Example: “When I was a graphic designer, I grew tired of how long it took my company’s computers to load. I was always asking the IT department for help, and the computers never got faster. I decided to be bold and meet with the head of the IT department to see if it was in our budget to get new computers for the design team.
After multiple discussions, she approved of it as long as I could find a setup that was within our budget. I spent weeks doing research and found a great deal on high-speed computers. My team was way more productive after that.”
4. What do you know about our company?
While this question may seem simple, it helps employers learn if you have enough drive to do your background research. That’s why it’s important to look into a company before any interview you have. Find out what their products or services are and who their main clients are. Get to know the company’s values and any major announcements they have. You can find this information on a company’s website or social media pages.
Example: “When researching this position, I learned quite a bit about your company. Of course, I know you are a skincare line that caters to young women, which is why I was interested in you. I have experience working for all kinds of beauty brands, and I felt like your message and branding suited what I am eager to work on. I love your real beauty campaign that empowers women.
I also know that your company is a big advocate for sustainable business. I see that you are part of a bigger group of companies that aim for zero waste and emissions. Finally, I know this company values a positive work culture. I enjoyed looking through your social media accounts and seeing all the praise you give your employees.”
5. What are your interests outside of work?
Along with learning more about your personality, this question helps employers tell if you are a passionate person. This interview question can help you show that you would fit in with the company culture well and are driven enough to engage in activities outside of work. Share a few hobbies or interests you have that might pique your hiring manager’s interest. Try to be a memorable candidate, sharing something that shows you are well-rounded and cultured.
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Example: “When I’m not at work, I am in nature with my camera. I have been big into photography since I was in high school, and I am always trying out new techniques and processes. Recently, I have switched over from digital to film. I find that film has a nice authentic quality to it, and I love renting out a space in my local college’s darkroom to process my film.
My favorite places to explore are Zion and Bryce Canyon in Utah. I have family out there, and I am constantly doing weekend trips there. If you’re ever interested, I can send you a link to my photography work.”
6. How do you take responsibility for your mistakes?
Someone who takes initiative is willing to admit their mistakes and fix the situation. Employers ask this question to see what kind of response you have when you make a mistake. Show them that you are willing to admit your faults and do whatever you can to make things better. Emphasize how you try to learn from your errors and be proactive about preventing them in the future.
Example: “Whenever I have made a mistake, I am quick to admit my faults. I find that the sooner I take responsibility for the mistake, the sooner I can find a solution for it. For instance, when I was a marketing intern, I accidentally sent the wrong files to a client. She responded to our account manager with a confusing message. When I heard my account manager talking about it, I instantly knew it was my fault, and I told her what I did.
To resolve the situation, I called the client directly and apologized for the mix-up. I immediately sent her the correct files. This situation taught me to be more detail-oriented and to double-check my work. I am always very cautious when dealing with client information and have not made this kind of mistake since.”
7. How do you stay motivated?
Staying motivated gives you the drive to take initiative at work. This interview question helps employers learn what strategies you use to stay motivated and productive. In your answer, share a few techniques and tools you use to motivate yourself. For instance, creating goals for yourself is a great way to stay focused and motivated.
Example: “There are many strategies I use to boost my motivation levels. First, I make sure I am constantly working toward a new goal. I find that by always having a list of goals, I am driven to do more. When creating my goals, I use the SMART method, meaning that they are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. With this system, I feel more motivated and capable of doing anything.
Another way I stay motivated is by taking care of myself. By getting enough sleep and regular exercise, I am more energized and ready for the workday. I also try to eat healthy to give myself even more energy and to prevent myself from feeling sluggish throughout the day.”
8. What would you do if you noticed a coworker was doing something incorrectly?
It takes a lot of initiative to point out another person’s errors in a productive way. This question helps employers assess your communication skills along with your desire to help the company. In your answer, show that you can politely point out another person’s mistakes. Show that you are patient and willing to explain how to do the task correctly. Make it clear that you would rather be proactive about helping someone rather than waiting for them to ask for it.
Example: “If I was ever in this situation, I would make sure to notify my coworker right away. I would do it in a polite way so that they feel my support and respect toward them. When discussing the matter with them, I would explain how to do the task correctly. I find that when I have been in similar situations, people appreciate me kindly speaking up instead of waiting for them to notice their own mistakes. I think we can all learn a lot from each other, which is why I am willing to give and receive feedback.”
9. What is your ideal work environment?
This question can tell an employer a lot about a candidate’s willingness to take initiative in the workplace. When a candidate values an innovative and fast-paced work environment, it shows they are willing to challenge themselves and make things happen. Use your answer to show you want to work with people who are always trying their best. Explain how you want to work for a company that values hard work and innovative ideas.
Example: “My ideal work environment is one where everyone is constantly striving to make things better. I am someone who is always coming up with new ideas, so I would thrive in a place where management is open to change. I find that I work well in team settings, so I would like to work for a company with a collaborative work environment. I see your company values hard work and innovative thinking, which inspired me to submit an application here.”
I hope you find this article helpful.