Are you a risk-taker?

  | James Innes

     

Are you a risk-taker?

Alternative and related questions:

How do you feel about taking risks?
Do you have a problem with taking risks?

The meaning behind the question:

“Are you a risk-taker?” is a very direct question. What the interviewer is really looking for is to assess what your attitude is to taking risks. In some lines of work someone who takes risks is definitely going to be a liability. However, in many lines of work the ability to weigh up risks – and to take calculated risks – is an important skill.

Your answer:

Your answer will inevitably depend on exactly what the job is that you are applying for. If your line of work is one in which taking risks – or cutting corners – is likely to be frowned upon then you’re going to need to formulate your answer so as to make it clear that you are not someone who believes in risks. You may even want to emphasise that you see it as part of your job to identify potential risks and pre-empt them.

If assessing risks – and taking appropriate risks – is going to be a feature of your new job then your answer will naturally be very different. You certainly want to avoid the impression of being in any way reckless though. Your emphasis should be on the steps you take to identify and gauge risks, only taking risks where you have calculated the potential outcomes and deemed that your actions are going to be worth the risk. You should also make some mention of your decision-making capabilities, because being prepared to take calculated risks is, ultimately, a form of decision-making.

Example:

It depends on how you define risk. I am certainly not somebody who takes unnecessary risks, nor risks that would in any way compromise anyone’s personal safety. However, I fully appreciate that commercial success is dependent on taking risks – calculated risks. If, having given a matter careful consideration and weighed up the possible ramifications, I determine that a risk is – in the best interests of the business – worth taking, then I am not afraid to take it. You can’t always be right – but careful planning and analysis should tip the odds in your favour and ensure that, overall, your decisions pay off. Experience is, of course, essential – and the experience I have gained over the course of my career is invaluable in informing my decisions.

The Interview Question & Answer Book

The Interview Question and Answer Book

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