Job interview question - dealing with resistance to change

How can you answer effectively to a job interview question on how to deal with resistance to change? Let's pick some precious elements from our reference: the Scriptures

Luke 7:18John's disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, 19he sent them to the Lord to ask, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?"

We all like to think that we can easily adapt to changes when they occur. We all think we like change. But the truth is we all have some degree of resistance to change. The RC (Resistance to Change) factor is not a myth. It can be a big problem in the corporate world if not managed properly and dealt with appropriately. So, you should not be surprised to face a job interview question on change and how to manage it.

If you are responsible for a project, you will need to identify the key people whose work will be impacted and make a preliminary assessment of their RC factor and how to get acceptance for the results of your project.

We can see in the verse above John Baptist’s perplexity about the changes introduced by Jesus.

It seemed like Jesus was doing everything opposite to what Jesus was used to.
John used to stay in the wilderness and wait for people to come to him.
Jesus was traveling from town to town preaching the good news of the kingdom.
John’s disciples used to fast often while Jesus’ disciples never fasted. Jesus got even questioned about this perceived discrepancy.

But like Jesus stated in the book of Matthew 9:17 “Neither do people put new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved”

We should put new wine only into a new wineskin. This means you need to prepare the people (the wineskins) to be ready for the new wine that you want to give them.
Otherwise, the wine will burst through the wineskin and get lost.
In other words, the results of all the team’s hard work will be ruined if you simply ignore the RC factor.
It is ironic that John Baptist was preaching a message of repentance (changing of thought patterns) but didn’t realize the full extend of the changes that were coming.
John was asking people to change from old wineskins into new wineskins, but was himself caught by surprise by the taste (aspects) of the new wine.

It was a major shift, so dramatic that Jesus would go as far as to say that the least person in the kingdom (the cheapest new wineskin) was greater than John Baptist (the most expensive old wineskin).

From the Scriptures, we see a character, Andrew, who made the shift quickly. He was first John’s disciple but upon hearing John’s testimony, he turned around and followed Jesus, bringing his brother Simon Peter with him.

So, to summarize, if you are the one introducing change, you need to manage it by helping people change from old wineskins into new wineskins. You can do this by demonstrating why change was necessary. You should give them a good reason to accept your changes.
Jesus’ statement about “the least person in the kingdom been greater than John Baptist” gives us a great example of how to do this.
He simply made a dramatic comparison between the old and new and why the new was much better.

He also added “the violent take it by force”. In other words, the new wine is so great that people are lining up to get it, they want to be the first ones to have it. In other words, “do you know that many people are trying to convince me to give them this new product first?” “do you know that other departments want to be the first to pilot this new system?” “Everybody wants this new stuff and they are going out of their way to get it” “Do you know that people are lining up all night in a queue so they have a chance to get this new device?” You create a buzz about the product of the change and you will never suffer again from the RC factor.
Off course, the buzz has to be based on truth, otherwise it will come back to hit you like a boomerang.

Wherever Jesus went, He expressed the culture of the kingdom of God with words but also signs and wonders. Both are necessary if you want to inspire change in people, if you want to overcome the RC factor. If people didn’t believe His words, they could see by themselves that what He was offering was far greater.

Another element is to show people that the change you are promoting is actually necessary to get what they want. Nicodemus was already convinced that the new wine was far greater than the old wine. He wanted to have it too. But Jesus shared the main condition: if you want the new, you must be born again: you must accept the change, the radical change.

Let’s now try to summarize how we can apply the above in answering effectively the job interview question: how do you deal with resistance to change in the workplace?

The first element in your answer is to recognize that the RC factor can be a big problem in corporations. The interviewer should see that you take it seriously. You cannot give a casual answer, in the like “we’ll just impose the change on people”. Jesus said the RC factor can ruin all of your efforts. The people affected by your project may express their resistance to you openly or not but in all cases, you need to assess it beforehand and anticipate it.

The second element in your answer is to show how you inspire people to adopt the change by telling them and showing them how the new is superior to the old. You need to know the people’s needs and wants and make demonstration to them on how they will benefit from your project.

The third element in your answer to this job interview question is the usage of the buzz strategy, when applicable. People that may display a high RC factor to your project should know that other people are eager to adopt the new. You should conclude your answer to this job interview question by stating that sometimes, the only way to deal with the RC factor is to impose the change on people. Nevertheless, it should not be the primary option in most cases.

Since we are leaving on times of great uncertainty, you could face often this job interview question on dealing with resistance to change.

You should then be prepared to answer it effectively and if possible give specific examples from your past experiences when you applied these principles.

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