Interview Question: How Would You Approach A Task You Have Never Done Before?
How To Answer Interview Question: How Would You Approach A Task You Have Never Done Before?
Many interview questions throw candidates off balance. One of such questions is how you would approach a task you’ve never done before. While this question may relate to work or social experiences, it’s best to focus on the professional aspect. Doing so, helps the interviewer to relate to your answers more.
When asked to take on a task that is outside of your specialty, you have two options. The first one is to refuse it. If you do, you’d probably be within your rights. Meanwhile, the second option would be for you to accept the challenge and run with it. However, choosing the latter would appeal more to potential employers.
In this guide, you will discover how to answer interview questions about approaching a new task. First, let’s examine why interviewers might ask you his question.
Why do interviewers ask this question?
There are many reasons why an interviewer would ask this question. The chances of giving a satisfactory answer are high when a candidate knows the interviewer’s motives. Here are some of the reasons why you might get this question in an interview:
To test your research skills
Interviewers know what it takes to be in a somewhat unpleasant situation. In a scenario where you are asked or feel obliged to perform a relatively unfamiliar task, you are usually out of your depths. Since the task in question is not your cup of tea, you are at a disadvantage. In a word, your knowledge, skill, experience, and expectations are hugely limited.
The first logical step is to learn all you need about the task. This is where research comes in; it gives you a leg to stand on moving forward. With impeccable research skills, you would be able to get the necessary knowledge for the task. Employers need candidates with superior research skills who will find some of the most hidden pieces of information when necessary. If your answer shows your research potential, you have ticked a box.
To find out if you are resourceful
It is unusual for an employee to carry out an assignment outside of their area of specialization. However, if it happens, they would need to show a heightened sense of resourcefulness. This is the skill that helps you to improvise and adapt when you need a timely solution. Resourceful people are an asset to any organization. They are the “utility” employees who can do nearly everything, including what they know very little about. Employees need them because they can cover up for their colleagues when they need to. This saves the company the trouble of hiring temporary workers.
To test your leadership potential
Leadership is an essential quality every organization needs in its employees. However, this quality doesn’t come easy. Not many have leadership potential. Thus, this question would expose candidates for what they are. One of the major qualities of leaders is that they make the lives of those around or beneath them easier. To assume the responsibility of a colleague when you don’t have to shows a high level of leadership. Thus, when you answer this question satisfactorily, you show yourself as one who can take the lead.
To see if you are versatile and dependable
Although it is preferable to be an expert at something, being able to adjust when the chips are down is commendable. For some, going out of their comfort zone is negative. First, the likelihood of failing is high at that point. Secondly, it is never truly easy to step out of your comfort zone. Then again, some would love to take on that responsibility but they lack the ability. They would struggle to make any real impact if they did it anyway. Meanwhile, versatility comes easier to some who would like to assist. Interviewers would notice this in the answer you give. Besides being versatile, this act shows that you can be dependable. Employers like to know that they can always call on someone to bail them out when they need savings.
How to answer the question
Questions like these present a candidate the opportunity to show their ability to think on their feet. It also takes problem-solving attributes to answer this question suitably. Here are the points to mention when giving a reply to the interviewer:
Explain why you may accept the challenge.
Taking on a task outside of your area of expertise is a risky endeavor. It could expose your weaknesses and failure could result in a loss of confidence in your ability. Thus, let the interviewer know why you would agree to carry out the assignment. If you would do it if you were forced to and have no choice, there’s no shame in admitting it. It could be to cover for a sick colleague or one that is on vacation. Also, if you would do the task because you feel confident or want to challenge yourself, let the interviewer know as well. Accepting the challenge is already a feat – you need not worry about the “why” so much. Finally, mention when you would likely decline the task if it were offered to you.
State how you would motivate yourself.
Accepting such a challenge is never easy for anyone, not even the most confident people. Thus, you would be expected to find creative ways to make the task seem more relatable for you. Let the interviewer know that you would need some motivation to proceed with the task. There are many ways to motivate yourself for a special assignment. Share how you got yourself mentally (and physically) prepared for the task. You could mention one or two practical steps to get yourself psyched up for the challenge.
Learning about the task and getting help
The logical step to take when performing a task you know very little about is to acquire more knowledge about it. Explain how you would learn all you can about the task before you embark on it. Your learning would involve studying, watching videos, and going through reports and data from similar tasks. Besides studying, talk about how you would consult experts to get their opinion on the task. You will need to call for back up and there is no shame in admitting it. Conclude this part by stating how you might form a team to help you achieve results.
How you’d approach the challenges you may face.
It is one thing to be motivated for a task, and it is another thing to face the challenges ahead. Upon entering a relatively new territory, you hardly know what to expect. Therefore, some challenges would throw you off balance. Tell the interviewer what those challenges could be. What do you do in similar situations? Speak about what you might likely do to retain your composure amid uncertainty.
How you would perform the task.
The main point is how you’d carry out the task and what you would experience. Since the task is relatively new to you, it would make sense to get extra help. Would you stay up all night to gain knowledge to boost your confidence? Whose brain would you pick for inspiration? Who would you call for backup? What kind of professionals would you have in your team to work on the project? Speak about how you and your team would carry out the project in a few sentences.
Touch on the positives.
The best parts of leaving your comfort zone and being vulnerable are the lessons you learn. The first thing you would learn is the reality of being in someone else’s shoes. It involves feeling what they might be feeling and how they struggle to get results consistently. Secondly, you learn skills and knowledge of something new. It could help you develop skills you never knew you had. Most importantly, you would learn about yourself. Sometimes we never truly know the extent of our abilities until we test ourselves. Also, working in unfamiliar settings could cause stress which could bring the worst in people. You might see another side of yourself that you have to work on.
How the experience may help your growth.
Finally, wrap the question up with your take on how you can build on the task. It only takes one experience to change someone’s life. Talk briefly in only two sentences about how the experience may affect you personally and professionally.
When an interviewer asks about approaching a new task, find out the reasons for the question. It helps you to come up with relevant answers that would reveal your skills. While you state the things you would do and how you would approach the task, there are some things not to do. Never lie. Interviewers are smart people. They have enough experience to spot lies when they listen to candidates. It emanates from spotting inconsistencies in their explanations. Also, don’t give the impression that you can do it all on your own. Logically, anyone would get help when they are out of their depths.