Recruiters and hiring managers want to know more about how you act in certain situations. They assess this by asking you, among others, situational interview questions. Situational interview questions, also called scenario-based questions, are often used in job interviews. They are therefore regarded as interview questions you should prepare for.
Situational questions are hypothetical interview questions. They require you to describe how you would respond to a hypothetical situation in the future. Interviewers use these questions to predict and assess your future job performance.
Situational questions help interviewers find out what important tasks you have handled in the past, how you dealt with them, and how your approach will fit into the role you are being interviewed for. Therefore, your responses must show how you have handled related work situations within the workplace.
In this blog, we discuss situational interview questions, why interviewers ask them, and how to answer them.
What Are Situational Interview Questions?
Situational interview questions are similar to behavioral interview questions. However, Behavioral interview questions require you to discuss work performances from the past, which the interviewers use to assess your future job success.
The difference between them is that behavioral questions regard how you handled situations in the past, while scenario-based questions require you to discuss hypothetical questions. Situational questions often start with ‘how would you handle a situation in which..?‘ As you can see, these types of questions require more from you than just a simple ‘yes‘ or ‘no.’
Examples of situational interview questions
- How would you advise your team and respond to a situation in which a competitor launched a new product?
- When you work on several projects with tight deadlines, how do you make sure you stay on track?
- What would you do if you saw a key metric drop month over month?
Preparing For Situational Job Interview Questions
Even though you cannot exactly predict which interview questions you will get asked, you can always make an educated guess. Preparing for an interview is essential, and your research prior to the interview will help you gather the information you need.
Therefore, perform the required research. Make sure you understand the job requirements. It’s important that you understand the key skills needed to perform the job. An efficient way to make an educated guess about the topics that are most likely to be discussed during the interview is by starting with the job description.
Researching the job description will help you understand the essential responsibilities, activities, qualifications, skills, and abilities for the position better.
Once you have identified the required skills, abilities, and competencies, you can start analyzing them. Write each of them down and rank the skills on importance in relation to the requirements of the position that you’re applying for.
Based on the list you have created, you can start figuring out question categories, which in turn, will allow you to prepare answers to questions in those categories. A lot of companies are looking for similar skills such as stress management, teamwork, leadership, adaptability, creative thinking, problem-solving, etc. Rank the skills on importance in relation to the requirements of the job that you are interviewing for.
Next, based on the list you created with the required skills, abilities, and competencies, you can start researching the most commonly asked questions about those topics. Make sure to prepare approximately answers to 3 to 5 common interview questions per topic.
STAR interview technique
Use the STAR method to structure your answers. STAR is an acronym that stands for a situation (S), your task (T) in that situation, the actions (A) you took, and what results (R) you got from your actions. These are the basic steps you take in your walkthrough. It allows you to efficiently demonstrate the skills and abilities required for the position and what the interviewer wants to see.
Situational Job Interview Questions
Situational interviewer questions are related to a specific skill set or competence required to be successful in the position you’re applying for. Think for instance of
If you are looking for a position where customer service is essential, it’s best you prepare for questions that deal with customer interaction. For example,
Give me an example of a time when you changed an unsatisfied customer into a happy one.
Time management and prioritization skills are essential skills in any position. If you have a job interview coming up, it’s smart to already think about example situations in which you have managed your time efficiently. For instance,
Tell me about a time you had to work on a project with a tight deadline.
Interviewers want to gain knowledge about your flexibility and adaptability when it comes to your work approach. For example by asking the question
Tell me about a time you had to adapt to a change in the workplace.
By asking you questions about your experience with working with teams, the interviewers try to assess your teamwork skills. Questions about teamwork are commonly asked during job interviews. For example,
Tell me about a time you resolved an issue as a team.
Interviewers try to assess what kind of worker you are in the workplace. To get these insights, you may be asked to describe your work ethic.
Describe your work ethic.
Job Interview Topics – Common Job Interview Questions & Answers
Below you can find a list of common job interview topics. Each link will direct you to an article regarding the specific topics that discuss commonly asked interview questions. Furthermore, each article discusses why the interviewer asks these questions and how you answer them!
- Career Change
- Career Goals
- Conflict Resolution
- Creative Thinking
- Cultural Fit
- Customer Service
- Growth Potential
- Honesty & Integrity
- Job Satisfaction
- Entry-Level & No experience
- Prioritization & Time Management
- Situational & Scenario-based
- Stress Management
- Telephone Interview
- Work Ethic