Interview Questions and Answers: Risk interview questions

This sort of interview question is a way of seeing how applicants deal with risk on the job. 'Risk' is defined as doing something where there's a possibility of failure. The interview question deals with situations where the applicant has to give an example of risk, or deal with a theoretical situation.

These interview questions are based on the fact that business itself is a risk. Many of the interview questions are also based on good practical situations, so they're particularly useful to interviewers for assessment purposes.

Risk interview questions are also good for quantifying and doing some quality control on risk measurements. That's a big plus for the interviewers, who need to see some solid evidence of ability in interview answers.

Interview questions can be quite subtle, and not even be obviously about risks.

Say you're interviewing for a job as a store manager, and the interview questions are:

  • What are you prepared to spend, to attract customers?
  • What are you prepared to discount, to show a profit, and attract customers?
  • Would you try something totally new, costing 40% of your advertising budget, to turn around a really bad business performance?
  • How do you deal with an inventory loaded with old stock, to make it pay its way?

All these interview questions relate to the possibility of making mistakes, and taking losses, as a result of the risk factors. Obviously, all the interview answers here involve taking action, and taking risks.

Another kind of interview question is much broader: 'Can you tell me about a time you took a risk?', leaving it to the interviewee to define the case.

Interview answers on the subject of risk, however the interview questions are constructed, need to be very clear. Always be careful to be precise, when giving your interview answers.

Giving clear interview answers about risk

Risk interview questions can be structured, or open ended. The four interview questions about the store manager job are structured interview questions. The 'Can you tell me about a time you took a risk?' interview question is obviously open ended.

Structured interview questions

The structured interview questions are answered directly: 'I'm prepared to spend ..... to attract customers. This is how I'd do it......', etc.

If they're structured, your interview answers should follow that structure, because you can be sure of answering all points raised in the interview questions.

Open ended interview questions

These interview answers have to be built up logically. There are four basic parts to this type of interview answer:

  • You start with a scene-setting description.
  • You describe the situation which caused you to take the risk.
  • You explain the risk, defining it.
  • You tell the interviewers what happened, and how the result turned out.

You really must be absolutely clear about the risk element. Your interview answer has to identify the risk, and the result.

Keep your interview answers basic. If they want more, they'll ask.