in Careers Advice, Interviews

Interview Question & Answer 27 – Describe a situation where you had to change your approach half way through a project or task following new input into the project.


Another particularly difficult competency based question which will almost inevitably result in you needing to have an example in your head before you go into the interview that you are able to use. Without having something pre-prepared it is almost impossible to think about something that quickly when asked these types of questions, which yet again needs us to question the usefulness of competency based interview technique. You need to have a situation in your head that can be easily altered and adapted to a host of different questions, including this one. Usually the best sort to go for are those where there is a positive outcome that would not have happened but for a change in your plans half way through a project. If you are a relatively junior person then it is perfectly acceptable to think of something with an academic or sporting incident but of course the best examples to use are work based

Examples of Answers

“During a project to construct a block of flats on the seafront in Portsmouth, we had taken the decision to complete the project within the timeframe allotted and to try and save considerable costs by using a sub-contractor who had undertaken to complete particular parts of the works within a very short space of time by working in teams through the night. We anticipated being able to save our client about 15% in profit costs by doing this and this in turn would lead to a bonus being paid to us as the project managers. The work commenced and the sub-contractor team began to push through the project. Unfortunately it soon transpired that the work being undertaken by the sub-contracting team was of very poor quality and they were not going to be able to complete the work to the required standard. We were forced to reconsider the approach we were taking to the project at this stage and I completely altered the project to incorporate a new team of sub-contractors who would be working standard hours and altered all the ensuing work to reflect this. The result was that the project finished on time, within budget, but without the substantial costs savings. However we thought it better to complete in the style we did to ensure that the work was of particular quality and that it passed the building regulations inspection at the end of the timeframe.”

Jonathan Fagan

Jonathan Fagan LLM FIRP is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. He has been recruiting solicitors and legal support staff for law firms and in house legal departments for over 20 years and handles roles from junior fee earners through to partners and law firm sales/purchases. A non-practising solicitor on the Roll since 2000, he is also the author of a number of legal career books, which are available at You can contact Jonathan at