How to Answer "Tell Me of the Most Courageous Actions or Unpopular Stands That You Have Ever Taken"

Job interviews are meant to be somewhat challenging so that the hiring manager can effectively evaluate the candidates and figure out which individual is the most viable for the position. Situational interview questions are asked to ascertain how you reacted to negative or “testing” circumstances in the workplace. One type of situational interview question is to ask you to describe a time when you had to demonstrate a courageous action or take an unpopular stand. This article will address how to answer this question.

1. Why a Hiring Manager Asks Such Questions

Situational questions are meant to gauge your reaction level. When asked in an interview to describe your most courageous action or when you took an unpopular stand, you will provide the hiring manager with a deeper insight into your mindset and specific workplace behavior. Additionally, being asked such a question will demonstrate whether or not you can think on your feet.

Hiring managers want to know if you are able to think for yourself and take the initiative when a situation calls for that type of action. Also, your ability to effectively fit into the company culture is being evaluated by this person asking if you have taken any unpopular stands. Your ability to handle conflict, become adaptable and cultivate a positive workplace atmosphere is also being tested.

2. Crafting Your Response to This Question

A Courageous action demonstrates your ability to face a challenge head-on even while moving forward with fear. Moral courage is when you stand up for your beliefs and what you consider to be right even when that decision is not a popular one—and you may face ridicule for your actions.

In order to craft an effective answer to this question, you need to understand that definition of courage and think of a time when you demonstrated such bravery. This question provides a variety of responses that you could share. Be sure to describe a situation that demonstrates your abilities in the best light and will impress the hiring manager to consider you as a viable candidate. There is a specific method in regard to how you should respond to this question.  

  • Duty – Ascertain specific times when you held your responsibility in a higher regard than your personal feelings.
  • Accountability – Review any times that you developed your accountability by readily accepting daily job tasks and responsibilities.
  • Stand – Continue the process by recalling any times that you stood up for what you thought was right even when you knew it would be an unpopular decision.  
  • Responsibility – Additionally, you need to evaluate times when you took responsibility for your own actions and did not blame others for mistakes you made.

3. Sample Responses to Give

If you cannot think of any incidents when you were courageous or took an unpopular stand, here are some examples that might jog your memory. If one of your coworkers was doing something unethical and you found out, it would take courage to go to this person and constructively confront the issue. This can also be considered taking an unpopular stand by acting according to your moral code rather than avoiding confrontation. In a similar vein, if you were asked by your boss or manager to do something unethical, standing up and saying no would take courage and also be an unpopular stand. When you make a decision to do something unpopular in the workplace, it takes a firm resolve in your convictions to hold fast against any ridicule or retribution. Another example of taking an unpopular stand could be if you were in a managerial position and you had to reprimand employees for using the Internet for personal reasons during work hours.

Whatever example you decide to use, choose one that demonstrates a good reason for being courageous and taking a stand. Additionally, it is important to show that you are not overly cautious, nor inflexible in your work performance. For example, you must find that balance between doing the right thing and being too rigid in your rules. Remember that a hiring manager wants to know that your aim is always to improve (and not hinder) the positive productivity in the workplace.

Have you taken an unpopular action or been very courageous in the workplace?