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Why test candidates’ adaptability skills in interviews
Companies often need to change to meet new demands. Good companies have employees who swiftly adapt to industry, market and technology changes.
Employees with the skills to adapt to change ultimately help companies grow. These employees:
- Stay calm under pressure
- Try out new tools and techniques to improve their work
- Quickly come up with solutions, when problems arise
- Accept new team members and working styles
The following questions will help you evaluate how candidates:
- Deal with unpredictable conditions (e.g. when a team member quits)
- Adjust to changing circumstances (e.g. when clients modify their requirements)
- Help their coworkers embrace change (e.g. when they have to comply with a new company policy)
- Take on new tasks (e.g. when their job requirements increase)
Examples of adaptability interview questions
- How do you adjust to changes you have no control over? (e.g. A person from your team decides to quit.)
- If your coworkers had a “this is how we do it” attitude to learning something new, how would you try to convince them to follow a different, more effective method of working?
- What are the biggest challenges you’re facing when starting a new job?
- You have been working on a client’s project for a while, when your manager informs you that the project’s requirements changed suddenly. What would you do?
- How do you re-adjust your schedule when your manager asks you to prepare a report within an hour? How do you make sure you don’t fall behind your regular tasks?
- Describe a time you were assigned new tasks (e.g. due to job enrichment or promotion.) How did you adapt?
- The new HR Manager implements formal, quarterly performance reviews for all employees. How would you prepare yourself and your team, if you were used to having only informal meetings?
- Tell me about a time you had to learn how to use a new tool at work. How long did it take you to understand its features use it daily?
How to evaluate candidates’ adaptability skills
- The onboarding process requires employees to adjust to new team members and different working styles. Candidates who describe how quickly they’ve onboarded in past positions are likely to be successful in their new role.
- For candidates who are considering a significant career change, ask what drives them to make that move and how confident they are with unfamiliar procedures and tasks.
- Keep an eye out for people who consider all possible scenarios before making a decision. These candidates are more likely to adjust to unplanned circumstances.
- For senior-level positions, look for candidates who value flexibility, are open to new ideas and have solid change management skills.
- If the position requires participating in multiple projects and collaboration with various teams/departments, opt for candidates who prefer mixing up their daily tasks instead of a routine.
- They’re not open-minded. People who stick to what they already know and are reluctant to try non-traditional solutions are less likely to adapt well to change.
- They’re scared of the unknown. If your company’s environment is fast-paced and employees need to take on multiple tasks beyond their scope of responsibilities, look for candidates who aren’t afraid of taking risks and learning new skills.
- They’re not good team players. Being adaptable also means adjusting your working style for the team’s sake. Opt for candidates who value collaboration and flexibility.
- They’re nervous. Candidates who can’t stay calm under sudden changes mightn’t be able to find quick and effective solutions to unexpected issues.
- They’re negative. Candidates who blame others and are grumpy when they have to adapt to a change are less likely to accept new circumstances.