Interview Question: Adapting to a Variety of People & Environments

Kellie Hanna, CPRW
By Kellie Hanna, CPRW, Career Advice Expert Last Updated: August 29, 2022

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You can say you possess any skill or have gone through a certain experience, but to prove you know what you are talking about, a hiring manager will want you to provide real-world examples. This is the reason why behavioral interview questions have grown in popularity in job interviews in recent years. Questions such as ‘By providing examples, convince me that you can adapt to a wide variety of people, situations and environments’ force you to think back on your workplace experiences to provide a time when you worked with a diverse group of people or in a new environment.

Answering with stories is preferable to answering with a few words or sentences. This is the key different between behavioral questions and much simpler inquiries. The reason why interviewers ask this particular question is to gain insight into whether you can handle working in a unique workplace where a bunch of different personalities are at play. Other forms of this question include ‘Describe a time when you worked with much different personalities than your own’ and ‘Describe a time working in a new environment.’ If you are having problems coming up with a response, make sure to follow the STAR method. With preparation, you will ace it.

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How to Answer the ‘By Providing Examples, Convince Me That You Can Adapt to a Wide Variety of People, Situations and Environments’ Behavioral Interview Question

Implement the STAR Method

Answering behavioral interview questions requires different preparation than other types of interview questions. When preparing, you should brush up on the STAR method:

  • Situation: Describe the situation you were in. This can include a diverse population of people you had to work with or a new environment you had to work in.
  • Task: This is what you were trying to achieve or work toward.
  • Action: This can include what actions you took to adapt. Did you learn a new skill or did you set out to work in a new environment?
  • Result: This is the grand finale of your response. Talk about what ultimately happened at the end of all this.

This gives you some structure to abide by so that you are not preparing completely lost. Before the interview, think of your accomplishments at past jobs and fit them into this mold. You will find that it becomes much easier to prepare.

Think Beyond Work Experience

Part of utilizing the STAR method involves picking the perfect story to talk about. While most people expect this involves thinking back on past jobs, you should not be afraid to get a little creative. If you studied abroad during college or if you volunteered in a different country while still in school, those can be excellent examples to bring up. They are also useful because those experiences might not be on your resume, so the hiring manager is learning a little something extra about you that he or she would not have known otherwise.

Show Growth

No matter where the experience happened, you want to show in your response that you are capable of adapting and growing. A big reason why this question is asked is that the hiring manager wants to see that you can change depending on the situation. An interviewer does not want someone who is static or who forces their own methodology onto others if it is not appropriate. Therefore do not simply describe a time when you were in a unique situation; talk about what you learned and how you grew.

Bring Up Multiple Examples If You Want

For this question, you can focus on a single experience, or you can describe multiple situations that are appropriate. Bringing up multiple examples can also be good because it shows you are not afraid to constantly expose yourself to new ideologies and ways of thinking.

Sample ‘By Providing Examples, Convince Me That You Can Adapt to a Wide Variety of People, Situations and Environments’ STAR Interview Answer

In college I spent a week abroad to help build houses. It was a completely unique experience, and I learned to adapt to a completely new culture. By learning some essentials of the language, I was able to communicate at a basic level with the people so that our group could build more houses. We were initially only supposed to build 20 houses, and we ended up constructing over 30. My last job was working as an assistant for a well-known art consultant, and I routinely had to go to artists’ homes, which exposed me to a whole new line of thinking. I learned the correct way to package art pieces and transport them safely.It cannot be stressed enough that the key to having a successful interview is to practice thoroughly beforehand. You may not know every question that will be asked, but you can be ready with stories to handle almost anything when it comes to behavioral interview questions.

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