How to Answer “Tell Me About a Time When You Wanted to Change Something That Was Outside of Your Regular Scope of Work or Influence” in an Interview

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Why Do Employers Ask This Question?

Employers often ask about times when an applicant wanted to change something outside of their regular scope of work or influence because they want to gauge the applicant's problem-solving skills, initiative, and determination. They want to know if the applicant is proactive, resourceful, and willing to go above and beyond in their work.

How to Answer the Question

When answering this question, it's important to focus on the steps you took to identify and address the problem, as well as the impact of your actions. Here are some tips for crafting a strong response:
  1. Think about a specific example from your past experience that demonstrates your problem-solving skills and initiative. You might consider a situation where you identified a process that could be improved, a challenge that needed to be addressed, or a problem that needed to be resolved.
  2. Explain the context of the situation, including your role and the specific problem you wanted to address. Make it clear that the problem was outside of your regular scope of work or influence, and emphasize the importance of addressing it.
  3. Describe the steps you took to address the problem. This might include researching solutions, seeking input or support from colleagues or superiors, or experimenting with different approaches. Focus on your role in driving the solution forward, and highlight any successes or accomplishments along the way.
  4. Conclude your answer by discussing the impact of your efforts. What was the result of your actions? How did the problem get resolved? What did you learn from the experience? Emphasize the value of your contribution and the skills and qualities you demonstrated.

How to Prepare for the Question

To prepare for this question, it's a good idea to think about examples from your past experience that demonstrate your problem-solving skills and initiative. Here are some tips for preparing:
  • Review the job description and requirements to get a sense of the types of problems and challenges you might encounter in the role. This can help you identify relevant examples from your past experience.
  • Consider any times when you identified and addressed a problem or challenge that was outside of your regular scope of work or influence. These might include instances where you took on additional responsibilities, found a new solution to a longstanding issue, or proposed a change that improved efficiency or effectiveness.

Common Mistakes

1. Not providing a specific example One common mistake is not providing a specific example or anecdote to illustrate your problem-solving skills and initiative. It's important to be specific and give concrete details about the situation, your role, and the steps you took to address the problem. 2. Focusing too much on the problem and not enough on the solution While it's important to explain the context and nature of the problem, the main focus of your answer should be on the steps you took to solve it. Make sure to highlight your role in driving the solution forward and the impact of your efforts. 3. Not discussing the impact of your actions It's important to explain the results of your efforts and the impact of your actions. Be sure to discuss what you accomplished and how your actions made a difference.

Sample Answers

  1. "In my previous role as a customer service representative, I noticed that we were frequently receiving complaints about the lengthy hold times customers experienced when trying to reach us by phone. After doing some research, I discovered that we could improve our call routing system to better distribute calls and reduce hold times. I presented my findings to my supervisor and proposed implementing the changes I had suggested. My supervisor agreed, and we implemented the changes. As a result, we saw a significant decrease in hold times and a corresponding increase in customer satisfaction. It was a great experience for me because it allowed me to take the initiative and make a positive impact on the company's operations."

  2. "I worked on a team responsible for creating marketing campaigns for a software company. During one project, I noticed that our team was using a graphics design tool that was inefficient and time-consuming. I suggested that we try using a different tool that I had previously used in a different role and was familiar with. It was a bit outside of my regular scope of work, but I knew it would save us time and improve the quality of our campaigns. My team was open to trying the new tool, and it ended up making a huge difference in our workflow. We were able to complete our projects much faster and with better results. It was a great example of how taking initiative and suggesting changes can lead to positive outcomes."
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