How quickly can you adapt to a new work environment?

  | James Innes

How quickly can you adapt to a new work environment?

Alternative and related questions:

How long does it generally take you to settle into a new environment?
How long do you feel it will take you to make an impact in your new job?

The meaning behind the question:

Whenever someone takes up a new role it will inevitably take them some time to settle in. If you’ve been in your previous job for a number of years then it can be quite a shock to the system starting a new job – and you’d be surprised how many employees walk out within their first week! The interviewer isn’t necessarily asking you for a precise timescale as to how long you’ll take to settle in. What they really want from you is evidence that you understand the upheaval involved in changing jobs and that you are prepared for this and will consequently adapt to your new situation as quickly as possible.

Your answer:

Above all, you must convey to the interviewer that you are able to adapt quickly to new circumstances. However, more than that, you should attempt to convey why you will be able to adapt quickly to new circumstances. It’s all very well to say that you will adapt quickly but it doesn’t mean very much unless you can back up your statement with some convincing evidence.

The best way to handle this is to refer to your current or previous job and how quickly you were able to settle in there.

If this is your first job then you could instead refer to how you handled the start of your degree course – or how you settled into your last school.


I believe I’m very good at adapting to changes in my circumstances. While every organisation is different and no two jobs I’ve had have ever been the same, the core requirements of my role don’t change. I appreciate that there will inevitably be new procedures that I need to absorb and adhere to – and it also takes time to forge positive working relationships with new colleagues. However, I don’t anticipate it taking very long at all before I’m fully up to speed and making a major contribution. When I took up my current role, I’d been with my previous employers for more than five years. It was clearly a major change for me. I nevertheless settled in very quickly, got to know my colleagues and to understand the way the organisation worked – and I already felt quite at home before the end of my first month.

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