8 Initiative Interview Questions and Example Answers
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated November 10, 2022 | Published July 26, 2021
Updated November 10, 2022
Published July 26, 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
When recruiters and hiring managers ask interview questions about your initiative, they are looking for traits that show how you take action independently and use your creativity to solve problems. Your initiative shows your ability to come up with new ideas on your own, identify opportunities for growth, and plan for improvements. When interviewers ask initiative questions, it's important to highlight your critical thinking, interpersonal, and organizational skills to show how you qualify. In this article, we cover common initiative interview questions and provide example responses so you can prepare to make a great impression.
Initiative interview questions and example answers
The following examples can give you an idea of what to expect when interviewers ask questions about your initiative:
What do you hope to accomplish in your first 90 days on the job?
Answering this question well shows employers that you've already thought about what you hope to accomplish in the role. Preparing your answer to this question in advance will help you demonstrate that you're ready to take action to achieve your goals. In your answer, discuss one or two projects you hope to complete when you start your new job. Conducting some research on the company ahead of time gives you an idea of what goals you can accomplish within your first 90 days.
Example: “Along with completing company training, I hope to establish relationships with clients within my first three months. I understand that if I fill the position, I'm taking over from your previous representative of seven years. So I want to use my first 90 days to show customers I care about their needs and can do an excellent job providing support. To accomplish this, I plan to meet with long-term clients to introduce myself and get to know them. I'll also use this time to collaborate on new ideas that the team and I can implement to improve customer support.”
Can you describe a time when you took initiative at work?
Interviewers often ask questions like this one to assess your initiative to take actions that lead to successful outcomes. Your answer can show employers you're proactive in implementing new ideas and strategic plans. When responding to this question, share a situation in which you completed an important task or project on your own before others took action.
Example: “In my last company, I worked on the product design team. At the time, the team used an older software version for developing product specifications and design models. The software became less efficient as my team took on more complex projects that demanded intricate features and higher functionality. I communicated this issue with our IT department, but my team was still not receiving the tools we needed. I met with the IT director to see if our budget could cover new design software.
After a few meetings, the director approved my request under the condition that I researched and selected the program within budget. I spent a few weeks researching different software and found a low-cost option for the company. After implementing the new software, my team was much more productive.”
How did you improve a process or system in your previous role?
This question helps the interviewer gain insight into how you develop solutions to challenges teams can face on the job. Give an example of a time you helped plan and implement a solution to make something more efficient. In your answer, highlight what you did, how you did it, and what the outcomes were.
Example: “In my last role, I noticed we were lacking an efficient system for tracking client deliverables. In fact, we only monitored client data in one large spreadsheet, which made it challenging to locate specific information when my team needed it. So I took it upon myself to find a project management system that fit my team's needs. After about a month of trial runs, I found the most suitable application and implemented it with my team. This system gave us the ability to sort and organize client information much more effectively."
What interests do you have outside your profession?
The interviewer may ask a question like this one to not only learn about your personality, but to assess your motivation for pursuing your passions and setting and achieving personal goals. Your answer also helps employers get an idea of how your personality can fit it with the company culture and your team atmosphere. In your answer, share a few hobbies that showcase your initiative to learn something new, challenge yourself, and build on your skills and talents.
Example: “During my off-time, I love to explore new mountain biking trails. I'm an avid cyclist and sometimes take part in marathons and charitable events. However, my favourite places to explore are the mountain trails. This is because I choose various trails based on the difficulty and endurance levels. I can continue to challenge myself and become a stronger and more adaptive cyclist.”
How would you support a teammate's improvement?
Your initiative can also extend to helping your colleagues improve their performance and productivity. This question can help hiring managers understand how you interact with your team and how you help others implement solutions to achieve success. Use your answer to highlight your motivation to see others succeed and how you offer support when you notice others may struggle to stay productive.
Example: "I love to help others and provide support to my team. So, I always take initiative to check in with everyone to first ask how they feel going into new projects or completing complex tasks. If I notice anyone having challenges with their workload, for instance, I take steps to find appropriate resources. This means my teammates have the tools they need to develop and improve, which is important to me. Depending on what a teammate needs assistance with, I'm always available to help coach, find skill-building resources, and offer my support."
How do you accept responsibility for a mistake?
Hiring managers often ask this question to evaluate how you respond when you make a mistake. Employers want to know that you can admit to errors and create solutions to fix them. In your answer, show the interviewer that you can accept accountability and work with others to overcome challenges and learn from your mistakes.
Example: “When I make a mistake, I always communicate my error because the sooner I accept accountability, the sooner I can fix the problem. When I first started my career as a business analyst, I sent the wrong client files to our client success manager. They didn't realize the files weren't the correct documents, and this caused a mix-up with the client's project plans.
As soon as I realized I had sent the wrong documents, I immediately communicated with the client success manager and the client to straighten out my error. This mistake taught me to be more conscientious and organized in my methods of entering and maintaining business data.”
Related: Interview Preparation Tips
How do you stay motivated and productive?
Employers want to know that you can stay motivated and productive while on the job and that you have the drive to get things done. This question can help the interviewer understand what techniques you use to stay motivated and engaged with your work so you maintain a high level of productivity. Highlight some methods you use for staying motivated and how they've worked for you in the past.
Example: “I use several strategies to keep myself motivated and engaged in my projects. First, I like to make sure I always have an objective or larger goal to work toward. Then, I look at different approaches I can take to achieve milestones as I work toward my objectives. I have found that by always having a list of objectives to focus on, I'm much more productive and engaged with my workload. Measuring my progress so I can see my achievements is also helpful because it keeps me motivated to accomplish more.”
Can you describe a time when you took initiative to achieve a goal?
This question can help the interviewer see if you're the type of team member who can take the first step toward meeting important objectives. Employers like to know that their employees are willing to take immediate action to achieve goals. Use your answer to showcase your ability to take on new challenges and stay motivated to succeed.
Example: “I love taking on new challenges in my role, and I can tell it makes customers feel special and included in our business events. As a customer service agent, I feel it's my mission to go above and beyond to ensure customers have what they need and offer my assistance to fix any problems. This is why I take it upon myself to keep regular contact with long-term customers to check on how they're doing, how our services are satisfying their needs, and what extra steps I can take to make sure my company takes care of them.
Through my initiative in these approaches, I've helped build lasting customer relationships that have led to increases in revenue and profitability.”
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