When you are applying for a job in a complex and rapidly changing environment, you can expect one of these behavioral interview questions: “What is your tolerance for ambiguity?“, “Are you comfortable when operating in an uncertain environment?” OR “Can you embrace unpredictability in the workplace?”
Tolerance for ambiguity can be defined as the degree to which an individual is comfortable with vagueness and inexactness in the workplace. The reason why interviewers ask this question is to gauge if you have a high tolerance for ambiguity and that you are able to take the reins in an ambiguous situation.
“Honestly, my tolerance for ambiguity is high. In my most recent job role, almost every job assignment was vague to start with. I had no idea what metrics or KPIs my manager wanted me to include.
It was my duty to bring clarity to the scope, defining the planning and executing the deliverable. In the end, the more ambiguous the assignment was, the more rewarding it felt when I delivered.”
Example Answer (No Experience)
“Although I don’t have any working experience yet, I do believe that I have a high tolerance for ambiguity in the workplace. Let me tell you why:
Ever since the COVID-19 crisis started, I’ve learned that uncertainty is part of life. I mean, when I was a 4th year student at [University XYZ], I did my utmost to study well and keep up with fewer seminars, workshops and lectures.
I embraced the changing conditions, lack of immediate understanding of the course material and discomfort that comes along with it.
Despite this situation, I managed to pass all the exams with partial information and complete my master’s degree by sticking to my routines and habits.”
Interview Question Tips
- Don’t say you have a low tolerance for ambiguity. Interviewers will most likely interpret that you are the type of employee that needs a lot of guidance and step-by-step instructions.
- Do show that you can bring exactness and specificity. For example, provide an example that shows that you proactively take initiative in uncertain or unclear work situations.