section one

5 Effective Interview Questions to Measure Resilience

Lead consultant at Test Partnership, Ben Schwencke, explains why Resilience is worth measuring.

2:10 Quickly understand why Resilience is worth measuring.

In the workplace, resilience acts as a powerful buffer against adverse stress related health outcomes such as burnout, protecting employees’ physical and mental health. This is particularly important in roles which unavailable place staff under considerable pressure, or where there is significant scope for conflict.

Sales, customer service, management, and healthcare roles are examples of role which require high levels of resilience, and where low level of resilience can be disastrous for incumbent employees.

In this article, I will outline 5 interview questions designed to measure resilience in the workplace. These questions will provide a valuable insight into a candidate’s level of resilience, helping employing organisations to minimise the risk of hiring candidates with inadequate levels of resilience, protecting them from undue stress.

Question 1

Tell me about a time when you faced a significant challenge at work. How did you handle it?

A
A strong answer:

A strong answer would demonstrate a clear understanding of the problem, followed by the candidate’s thought process and the specific actions they took to overcome the challenge. It should also reflect their ability to remain motivated and optimistic, showing that they learned from the experience and might even share how it contributed to their personal or professional growth.

B
A weak answer:

A weak answer might be vague, lacking in specifics about the challenge or how it was addressed. It could also indicate a tendency to give up easily, blame others, or avoid responsibility. A lack of reflection on what they learned or how they could improve would also signify a weaker resilience.

Probing questions
  • 1. Can you describe the steps you took to address or overcome this challenge?
  • 2. How did you maintain your motivation during this period?
  • 3. In hindsight, would you handle it differently? Why or why not?

Question 2

Describe a situation where you had to adapt to a significant change at work. How did you manage the transition?

A
A strong answer:

Candidates should articulate their initial reactions and the steps they took to adapt, highlighting their flexibility and openness to change. Strong responses include examples of proactive measures taken to understand and align with the new direction, effective communication with stakeholders, and a positive attitude towards the change. The outcome should reflect successful adaptation and ideally, an improvement in their work or team performance.

B
A weak answer:

A weak answer may display resistance to change, a negative attitude, or an inability to adjust. If the candidate focuses on the difficulties faced without discussing how they overcame them or learned from the experience, it suggests a lower level of resilience.

Probing questions
  • 1. What was your initial reaction to the change?
  • 2. How did you adjust your strategy or approach to accommodate the new circumstances?
  • 3. What was the outcome of this adjustment?

Question 3

Can you share an example of a time when you failed at a task or project? What did you learn from that experience?

A
A strong answer:

A strong response will openly acknowledge the failure, demonstrating self-awareness and accountability. The candidate should detail their process for coping with the setback, including any tangible actions taken to learn from the experience. Importantly, they should explain how it positively influenced their future work, showcasing growth and a constructive attitude towards failure.

B
A weak answer:

A weak answer might involve avoiding responsibility for the failure, making excuses, or demonstrating an inability to learn from the experience. Lack of reflection on how the failure impacted their approach to work or how they could prevent similar issues in the future would also highlight a lack of resilience.

Probing questions
  • 1. How did you cope with the failure?
  • 2. What specific steps did you take to move past the failure?
  • 3. How has this experience influenced your approach to similar tasks or challenges in the future?

Question 4

Tell me about a time when you were under a lot of pressure at work. How did you handle it?

A
A strong answer:

A candidate showing resilience would describe a specific situation where they faced significant pressure, detailing the context and their emotional response. They would then explain the strategies they employed to manage stress, such as prioritization, time management, seeking support, or using stress-reduction techniques. The answer should highlight their ability to maintain or even improve the quality of their work under pressure, showcasing their resilience and effectiveness in stressful situations.

B
A weak answer:

A weak answer might involve the candidate focusing solely on the stress and pressure felt, without adequately detailing how they managed or overcame it. They might also suggest that the quality of their work suffered significantly, indicating a lack of effective stress management and resilience. An absence of reflection on what they could have done differently or how they could improve their stress management strategies in the future would further indicate a weaker response.

Probing questions
  • 1. What were the sources of pressure, and how did they affect you?
  • 2. Can you describe the strategies you used to manage your stress and workload?
  • 3. How did you ensure the quality of your work was not compromised?

Question 5

Reflecting on your career so far, can you identify a period of significant professional growth that resulted from overcoming difficulties or challenges? How did you grow?

A
A strong answer:

A strong answer would involve the candidate identifying a clear period of challenge that led to significant growth. They should detail the nature of the difficulties faced and the actions they took to overcome them. Key to a strong response is the ability to articulate the specific ways in which they grew, such as gaining new skills, improving resilience, enhancing problem-solving abilities, or developing a more positive mindset towards challenges. The candidate should demonstrate self-reflection and an understanding of how overcoming adversity has shaped their professional journey.

B
A weak answer:

A weak response might be vague, lacking in specifics about the challenges faced or the candidate's growth. It could also indicate a reluctance to face difficulties or an inability to identify any positive outcomes of such periods. If the candidate fails to articulate what they learned or how they applied these learnings to their professional life, it suggests a lack of resilience and self-awareness.

Probing questions
  • 1. What specific difficulties or challenges did you face?
  • 2. How did overcoming these challenges contribute to your professional growth?
  • 3. What key learnings or skills did you acquire through this process?
section two

Limitations of interview questions for Resilience

Compared to many other psychological constructs, resilience is often sub-optimally measured using the traditional interview method. Resilience is, by its nature, difficult to articulate to another person verbally, and often highly skilled interviewees are able to convince interviewers regardless. Consequently, a highly resilient candidate who is unskilled at interviews may struggle to effectively convey their resilience, resulting in a poor performance at interview. However, a candidate who is highly charismatic, but low in resilience may well convince their interviewer, resulting in poor hiring outcomes.

Test Partnership’s suite of behavioural assessments are the ideal way to evaluating a candidates resilience. Intra-personal traits are simply better evaluated using behavioural assessments compared to interviews, allowing you to widen the scope of your selection process. For more information on our suite of behavioural assessments, please contact us directly or request a free trial.