Are you proactive?

  | James Innes

Classic Interview Questions and Answers

Are you proactive?

Alternative and related questions:

How good are you at taking the initiative?

The meaning behind the question:

Being proactive means making an effort to anticipate a situation and acting in advance either to prepare for it or to prevent it. It’s not exactly the same as taking the initiative but the two are certainly closely related.

In asking you this question the interviewer wants to establish what your definition of proactive is and whether or not you are indeed proactive yourself – because it is a highly desirable characteristic.

Your answer:

This is a prime example of a question requiring you to deliver a specific example – whether or not the interviewer actually asks you for one. If you fail to illustrate your answer with an example then it’s going to be fairly meaningless. Anyone can claim to be proactive but can you actually prove it?

Choose your example carefully in advance, describe the circumstances to the interviewer and, most importantly, explain what the benefits of your actions were.


Yes, I would consider myself to be proactive. I believe it’s very important to be as proactive as possible. As the saying goes, a stitch in time saves nine! When my team is working on a project I always do my best to identify possible problems in advance and to make sure that we address them. Recently, a major project of ours was severely affected by a key member of staff leaving the company overnight (for personal reasons). I anticipated that, as a result of this, we wouldn’t be able to deliver the solution to the client on time. I took the decision to contact the client, explain the situation, apologise for the delay but make the point that the quality of the finished solution was of greater importance than delivering it on schedule. The client appreciated my honesty, was very understanding and was pleased to hear that we’d never compromise on quality just to be seen to meet a deadline.

The Interview Question & Answer Book

The Interview Question and Answer Book

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The job market is fierce, competition has never been greater and it's important that you can grab every opportunity for competitive advantage and stay one step ahead. Written by one of the world's leading careers experts and bestselling author of The Interview Book, this definitive guide to questions and answers encourages every job-hunter to think on your feet and express your individuality while supplying ideal responses to interview questions so that you’re seen as the ideal candidate for the job.


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