Change Management Christopher SmithSeptember 13, 2021

How to Adapt to Change: Interview Question Guide

How to Adapt to Change: Interview Question Guide

Recently, more and more hiring managers are concerned with how candidates will adapt to change – interview question and answers will often aim to assess traits such as adaptability, flexibility, learning, and resilience.

Below, we’ll look at how to address interview questions that revolve around adapting to change.

How to Adapt to Change: Interview Question Guide

Change has always been a constant in the business world, but today, the pace of change is accelerating

Factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic, financial crises, and digital disruption are fueling major changes across the economy.

Businesses, therefore, are rightly concerned about managing change and about how their employees will respond to changing business conditions.

Increasingly, hiring managers will ask job candidates how they would respond to uncertain circumstances. That information will tell employers how resilient employees are and how effective they would be during a disruptive change.

Let’s look at a few topics to help prepare you for these types of questions.

Digital Adoption

Today’s workplace is digital.

Every company, large and small, adopts technology constantly, whether those tools are large-scale B2B SaaS platforms or small-scale tools. Employers will therefore be concerned about how well employees can adopt new tools.

Questions related to digital adoption and technology can include:

  • Are you comfortable learning new software?
  • Can you learn new software independently?
  • What is your learning style?
  • Which software applications are you proficient in?

Questions may also be based around hypothetical scenarios. 

For instance, interviewers may ask what you would do if asked to learn a specific software program. Or they may ask how you would handle the adoption of an entirely new digital workflow.

Also, as we will see below, growing companies, such as startups, will change much more rapidly and they will be more interested in candidates who are willing to adopt new tools. If you can demonstrate that you are willing and able to learn new software continuously, you will stand out in their eyes.

Business Change

Organizational change is another constant in today’s economy. As mentioned above, the causes for this can vary and range from COVID-19 to financial disruptions to geopolitical tensions to digital innovation.

Questions will often include both hypothetical questions as well as those drawn from real-life examples.

For instance, here are a few examples of questions that would draw on your real-world experience:

  • What was the biggest workplace disruption you experienced and how did you handle it?
  • What challenges did you face when remote working in 2020 and how did you handle them?
  • What is the biggest challenge or conflict you faced at work and how did you deal with it?

Questions may also focus on hypothetical scenarios:

  • How would you deal with a new manager that you didn’t like?
  • How would you feel if you were required to work full time from home again?
  • How would you feel about “hot seats” instead of having a private office?
  • How would you adapt to a new office, team, or work environment?

When it comes to organizational change, resilience is the main focus. 

Interviewers will want to know how well you can adapt, because that will affect your productivity during organizational changes. Employees who cannot adapt well will be less productive and they will not add as much value to the organization – they could, in fact, become liabilities when faced with change.

To better understand the impact of organizational change, it is useful to understand the different types of organizational change that organizations undergo.

Examples include:

  • Organizational culture change
  • Organizational restructuring
  • Reorganization
  • Reconfiguration
  • Digital transformation

Changes such as these can be stressful for employees. For that reason, employers are more interested in hiring adaptable and resilient employees.

Organizational Culture

An organization’s culture refers to its behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs. 

Since organizational culture is intertwined with employee behavior and productivity, employers will want to know how employees would react to organizational culture change.

Every organization’s culture is unique, so culture fit will depend on the organization and the person.

That being said, there are qualities that can improve culture fit. Someone who is a good team player, for instance, will fit better in a variety of teams than one who is not.

In this respect, it is best to draw attention to one’s soft skills, such as:

  • Empathy
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Communication skills
  • Flexibility
  • Social aptitude

Questions related to culture, culture fit, and adaptability can include:

  • How do you manage conflict in the workplace?
  • What is your leadership style?
  • How do you manage remote workers?
  • Why do you want to work at our company?
  • What is your preferred work style?
  • How do you handle stress?
  • What motivates you to do a good job?
  • What is your ideal company culture?

To prepare for these questions, it is best to examine the company’s mission, vision, and culture. Do research beforehand and find out what resonates with you and what does not. 

Ideally, the company reflects your own values, at least to a certain extent. 

During the interview, focus on where you align with the company. If you are flexible, adaptable, and willing to move with the organization. If it changes culture, then make that clear.

Final Tips

Given the events we witnessed during 2020, it is understandable that many organizations want adaptable employees. 

The questions above are just a few examples of those that you could be asked during an interview. 

Rather than preparing for questions phrased in a specific way, understand what types of concerns interviewers have and prepare a set of “stock” answers beforehand – these can then be used to address those concerns, regardless of how the question is phrased.

For instance, when they were asking how you will adapt to change, they are looking for quality such as adaptability, resilience, flexibility, and soft skills. They are concerned how you will contribute to an organization or react to disruptive change.

Here are a few tips to help you get ready for questions about adaptability:

  • Prepare questions and answers and rehearse them before an interview
  • Study the job description and look at the types of qualities you need to succeed at the job
  • Understand the company’s culture
  • Showcase your soft skills, your strengths, and show how you can adapt to uncertain circumstances

With the proper preparation you will stand a much better chance of succeeding – just be sure to rehearse your questions and answers several times before the actual interview.

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