Interview Questions that Show Initiative

The ability to take initiative is key to success in many professional positions.  Although all hiring managers want to choose a candidate who will succeed, fewer know how to evaluate a candidate’s initiative based on the limited time available in one or two interviews.

Asking the right questions during an interview can give hiring managers a better sense of a candidate’s capacity and willingness to take initiative when facing a challenge.  When interviewing candidates, consider asking questions like:

  • Tell me about a time you took a risk.  Risk taking is a key part of taking initiative; from the outset of any project, risk is inevitable because all the outcomes and many obstacles are still unknown.  Candidates who can describe how they identified a risk worth taking and took it are narrating an example of their own initiative, as well as providing key information about their ability to plan, organize, and think through a project.
  • What professional development have you undertaken in the past three years?  Candidates who are passionate about their work will take the initiative to maintain and improve their credentials, skills, and knowledge through professional development – whether in a formal classroom setting or by other means.
  • If you were asked to step into your supervisor’s shoes for a month, how would you go about it?  This question combines initiative with an ability to respond to challenges, think through new problems, plan ahead, and gather information from outside sources.  Ideally, a candidate’s answer will demonstrate an ability and willingness to rise to the challenge, gather information and support from teammates, and take the initiative to ensure no projects fall through the cracks while the boss is away.
  • Tell me about a time you surprised yourself.  While not directly related to initiative, this question asks candidates to identify a time they pushed their own boundaries.  It reveals similar information as the classic “what is your greatest weakness?”, but it also asks how candidates found a way to challenge or even overcome a weakness, while also offering an opportunity to discuss initiative and risk taking.

At Marquee Staffing, our experienced Southern California staffing specialists can help you find top talent for a range of positions. Contact us today to learn more!