Interview Tips

How to Answer: Tell Me About the Biggest Risk You Have Taken

By: Mariah Rogers
Aug 6, 2020 • 3 min read

How to Answer: Tell Me About the Biggest Risk You Have Taken

During an interview, you will likely be asked a few questions that seem, well, uncomfortable. From describing your worst boss to revealing your biggest fear, this can be a lot to share during your first time meeting someone! It can be easy to overshare under pressure and reveal things you wish you had not. This is why it is crucial to have a plan in place and practice common interview questions before meeting with your potential employer. This way, you will be prepared and confident when it comes time to answer tricky questions. Here is how to elaborate on the biggest risk you have taken without sounding unprofessional.


Keep It Light

This can be a perfect opportunity to show some of your personality to your potential employer. These types of questions are often just so the employer can get to know you better as a person and look beyond your resume and cover letter. They want to hear an interesting story and a sense of passion and grit in your voice when you tell it. When it comes to risk-taking, feel free to elaborate on the moments leading up to the risk, the decision to take the chance, and the overall outcome. Keep it light and focus more on your personal emotions and reactions. Avoid explaining a time when you found yourself taking an uncertain chance in the workplace.

Example: I took the chance to apply for my manager’s position when she announced she was leaving the company. The most challenging part about this process was getting the courage to hit “submit” on my application. Looking back, I am so glad I took that risk. Even though I did not get the job, I learned so much about boosting my own confidence and believing in myself. I am certain that this will translate into my future work with this company. 

What NOT to say: The biggest risk I have taken was at my previous job. I ended up publishing a piece that my team was still editing. I knew that it was ready and it ended up being a huge success on our webiste! Although my team was unhappy, I knew this risk would be a great benefit overall. 


Calculated Risk

Employers might also ask this question to see how well you think through choices before you come to a final decision. You might have heard the term “calculated risk” before. This essentially means that you have examined the risk versus reward and decided it was worth it. The positive result of the risk was worth taking the chance and possibly failing. Speak about your decision-making process and how you factor in all possible outcomes before making a risky decision. This will let your employer know that you are a cautious and thorough thinker. Also, you have the best interest of the company in mind at all times.

Example: When deciding whether or not to apply for the open management position, I decided that taking the risk was worth the possibility of getting hired. I knew that being rejected would be embarrassing as I return to my regular subordinate-level job. However, I decided it was worth it to try my best. It was a great lesson for me. I did not return to my desk, embarrassed. Rather, I was empowered and motivated to see what is in store for me next.

It Does Not Have To Be Work-Related

Your response to this question does not have to be work-related. Feel free to share a story from your personal life! This might even be a safer option so that you don’t accidentally expose yourself during your interview and share something the employer might find alarming. Again, keep it light, and make sure to play to your strengths. You can always compare the personal story to a quick relation in your work life as well, to tie it all together!

Example: The biggest risk I have ever taken would be moving to this city. I grew up in a small suburban town, where I felt very comfortable, but not challenged. I knew there were more opportunities out there for me, and moving to Boston was one way I could expand my horizons and gain new experiences. 

Share Risks That Have Only Affected You

When sharing your chosen risk with your potential employer, it is crucial to only share risks that have affected you. Avoid sharing a risk that has put a co-worker, friend, or family member, in jeopardy. This should be an opportunity for you to share your own personal experiences!

Example: The biggest risk I have taken is buying my own horse. I loved riding as a little girl and I used to compete. I love caring for animals and although I knew this would be a challenge, I am passionate about pursuing things that make you happy! 


More to Explore:

How to Answer: When were you satisfied with a final project? – here 

How to Make the Most of Online Graduate School – here 

How to Answer: What are your pet peeves? – here 


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