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Situational interview questions are asked in a job interview to allow the hiring manager to get a feel for how you'd handle particular situations in the position. These questions entail assessing a circumstance and responding with how you'd handle it in a solution-based way. Many situational questions require problem-solving skills to think through and respond effectively. Here we explore what you should include when answering situational-based interview questions and five situation questions you should be familiar with going into your next job interview.
Your primary objective when answering situational interview questions should be to discuss a related experience and how you dealt with it in your previous job roles. The best way to do this is to use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method. In this instance, you’ll replace ‘task’ with the problem that best relates to the question. Use the following steps to answer situational interview questions:
The following are five common situational interview questions that hiring managers ask as well as how to answer each:
This question is asked by interviewers to get a better understanding of how you’d handle a difficult situation in the workplace. Considering that most professionals will experience a challenging instance at least once, this question is relevant across most careers. This is a great question to use the STAR technique, so when providing an answer, be sure to break down your answer into the Situation, Task (problem), Action, and Result format. Don’t be afraid to talk about any mistakes you made when handling a situation. However, if you do discuss your mistakes, be sure to back them up with how you remedied them with a viable solution.
Most employees will experience some level of pressure in their positions, so being able to work well under pressure is an important quality that many employers look for in applicants. This question is particularly important if you’re applying for a job that’s known to be high stress. When answering this question, you’ll first want to confirm that you do work well under pressure (if this is true) and then describe how you manage high-pressure situations. For example, you could discuss your organizational approach and how it ensures you stay on track even when your workload is overwhelming.
Everyone has disagreements, and it’s expected that you won’t always agree with something your manager or colleague says or does during the course of your career. The point of this question is to see how you handle challenging interactions and opposing viewpoints in the workplace. Most hiring managers want to hear the specific actions you’d take to bring to light the fact that a coworker or boss is in the wrong.
Keep in mind that negativity is not the way to go, no matter how easy it may be to respond in this manner. Stay positive when answering this question and provide clear steps you’d take to help your manager or coworker realize their error.
Starting a new job position often means doing at least a few tasks you’ve never done before. And, depending on the position, you may be asked to regularly perform tasks that are beyond your current experience level. Hiring managers want to know how you approach situations in which you’re required to learn new duties or take on new responsibilities, so your answer to this question should include your personal techniques for developing new skills.
For example, you could say that in your previous position when you were asked to do something new, you were more than happy to do so as long as you had a more experienced employee providing guidance.
Everyone makes mistakes, but it’s how you address and remedy those mistakes that make you a good employee. Hiring managers want to know if you’re able to successfully overcome and learn from failures and use these experiences to positively impact your overall work performance. When answering this question, describe a previous failure at work. Then, talk about the steps you took to overcome this failure and exactly what you learned as a result of this experience. Use positive language whenever possible to convey that the incident, while technically considered a failure, was still a valuable part of your professional experience.