Question forms part of
Other interview questions that are similar
- Describe a situation where you had to make a difficult decision. What was the outcome?
- Can you share an example of when you went against the norm or challenged conventional thinking to solve a problem?
- Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision with limited information. How did you handle it?
- Describe a situation where you took a creative or unconventional approach to solving a problem. What was the result?
- Share an experience where you had to navigate uncertainty or ambiguity in a professional setting. How did you deal with it?
- Tell me about a time when you faced a significant obstacle at work. How did you overcome it?
- Describe a project where you had to weigh the pros and cons of different options. How did you make your decision?
What the interviewer is looking for by asking this question
There are probably an infinite number of questions that the interviewer could ask you on the day. Some questions are incredibly common appearing in almost every interview you will have, while other questions you might hear once and never again regardless of how many jobs you apply for.
Fundamentally though all interview questions are really trying to find out one of 3 things:
1 – Can you do the job? (Do you have the skills/experience needed?)
2 – Will you do the job? (Do you have the drive/motivation to get the job done?)
3 – Will you fit in? (Does your personality match the workplace culture? Are you likeable?)
That’s it. Those are the 3 things that the interviewer is trying to ascertain. Every question that is asked of you will fundamentally be trying to resolve one (or more) of these 3 things.
The question “tell me about a time you took a risk” is a versatile and insightful one, as it can relate to one or more of the three fundamental aspects interviewers seek to understand about a candidate. By asking this question, interviewers gain a deeper perspective on your skills, motivation, and adaptability to the workplace culture.
- Can you do the job? When discussing a risk you’ve taken, you have the opportunity to showcase your skills and experience in handling challenging situations. You can demonstrate your ability to assess risks, make informed decisions, and navigate uncertain circumstances. It also allows you to highlight any technical or soft skills you employed in the process, further convincing the interviewer that you possess the necessary expertise for the job.
- Will you do the job? This question also touches on your motivation and drive. By sharing a story about a risk you’ve taken, you reveal your willingness to push boundaries, take ownership, and strive for success. Employers want to hire candidates who are proactive and not afraid to step out of their comfort zones. Your response can showcase your determination, problem-solving abilities, and commitment to achieving goals even in the face of adversity.
- Will you fit in? Lastly, discussing a risk-taking experience can help the interviewer understand your personality and how it aligns with the company culture. It shows your adaptability, openness to change, and ability to collaborate with others during challenging times. Your response can also reveal how you handle stress, deal with failure, and learn from your experiences. These qualities are essential for a harmonious and productive work environment.
How Best To Answer ‘Tell me about a time you took a risk’
Unless the question you are asked is a straight ‘up or down / yes or no’ style question then you are going to need to learn to describe, expand and elaborate on your answers. The best way of doing this is to follow the B-STAR technique for answering interview questions.
Answers using this method follow the below structure:
B – Belief – What are your thoughts and feelings with regard to the subject matter?
S – Situation – What was going on? Briefly explain the scenario that was taking place. – Try not to spend too much time describing the situation. The bulk of your answer needs to be about you and what you did so keep the situation simple to understand and even simpler to describe.
T – Task – What was your role in the action? Most of the time it is best that you are taking an active rather than passive role in the encounter.
A – Activity (or action) – What did you do? Detail the steps you took and why you took them. – This should take up the bulk of your time answering the question.
R – Result – How did everything end up? Try to use figures if possible (e.g. we cut costs by $3m, customer satisfaction scores increased 25%, failures reduced to zero, ice cream parties increased ten-fold etc.).
Remember though that the B-STAR technique is descriptive not prescriptive. You do not need to follow this flow strictly, go with what is best for your answers and that will allow you to put your point across and show your experience the best.
What You Should NOT Do When Answering Questions
Do not avoid the question.
Do not describe a failure (unless specifically asked).
Do not downplay the situation.
Do not overhype the situation.
Do not say you have no experience with the subject matter.
Do not reject the premise of the question.
Do not have a passive role in the situation.
Do not give a one-sentence answer.
Do not overly describe the scenario and miss the action
Tell me about a time you took a risk – Example answer
Project Manager Example
I don’t believe in taking unnecessary risks, however when the pros and cons have been properly identified I am happy to make a calculated risk should I believe it will be beneficial overall. A time I took a risk at work was when I suggested a new approach to a project that I was working on. The project was facing several challenges and I felt that the team was not making progress using the traditional methods. I proposed a new approach that was outside of the box and that required the team to think differently about the problem. Although my proposal was met with initial skepticism, I was able to clearly articulate the potential benefits and I was able to rally support from key stakeholders. We implemented my proposal and it was successful, leading to a significant improvement in the pace of the project and a better outcome for the team and the organization. This experience taught me the value of taking calculated risks and thinking creatively to find solutions to challenging problems. It also demonstrated the importance of being able to communicate effectively and to build support for innovative ideas.
Insurance Adjustor Example
A risk I took as an insurance adjustor was when I recommended a settlement offer to a client that was significantly lower than what they had initially requested. The client was expecting a large payout for their claim, but based on my investigation, I determined that the damages were not as extensive as they had reported. I knew that this would be a difficult conversation, as the client had high expectations for their payout, but I felt that it was the right thing to do to provide an accurate and fair assessment of the damages.
I presented my findings and recommended a lower settlement offer, explaining the reasoning behind my decision. The client was initially upset but after some discussion and review of the evidence, they ultimately agreed with my assessment and accepted the settlement offer. This was a risk because there was a possibility that the client would reject my recommendation and take legal action, which could have resulted in a negative outcome for both the client and the insurance company. However, by taking this risk, I was able to build trust with the client and maintain a high level of integrity and professionalism in my role as an insurance adjustor.
Team Leader Example