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Anyone who needs to work knows that they will have to go through one of those tricky job interviews at some point. As hard skills and soft skills are becoming more demanding in today’s job landscape, questions designed to help interviewers assess those skills become trickier. Other than situational interview questions, there are other types of interview questions employers use. Let’s go through each definition of situational interview questions, open-ended questions, closed-ended questions, and behavioral questions.
The difference between situational and behavioral interview questions:
Situational interview questions are hypothetical questions about how would you respond to a possible scenario. In contrast, behavioral questions focus on professional experiences you had in the past. While you may use instances for a situational interview question, behavioral questions require you to give concrete examples of situations you faced before and your behavior towards them.
Situational interview questions can help push candidates beyond giving generic answers by getting them to think about how they would handle a situation. You can also elaborate on a past situation you encounter when answering scenario-based interview questions. These situational-based interview questions are about presenting a possible situation the interviewee may face, and they have to come up with an elaborate response.
How a candidate answers situational interview questions provide the interviewer with more information about the candidate, such as:
✨ Quick-thinking skills:
Quick-thinking is sometimes prompted by unforeseen challenges that take you off guard, which can be stressful. Remember that the interviewer is interested in how you perceive and respond to such situations. As a result, you should avoid being negative in your explanation of the problem and try to stick to the facts when answering scenario-based questions for an interview.
✨ Leadership skills:
Employers would use situational interview questions to see if the interviewee has the leadership to handle unusual circumstances where there are no explicit instructions. Having leadership skills means relying on one’s own judgment and having the confidence to make difficult decisions.
Adaptability is all about adapting to changes at work. Adaptability is a soft skill that employers look for when hiring new employees and it can be assessed by asking situational interview questions. As a soft skill, adaptability requires a number of other soft skills in order to be successfully applied. Therefore, when answering situational interview questions, a candidate shows their ability to learn quickly and put that learning into practice.
✨ Teamwork skills:
Teamwork makes it easier to attain goals, boosts motivation and creativity, and improves each person's social skills. Teamwork is a highly appreciated skill in the labor market, and it is one of the most demanded abilities by employers. There are several examples of situational interview questions regarding teamwork, which you can check out at the end of this article.
It's critical to be attentive and keep your answer on-point when giving responses in a job interview. If you've had difficulties with this in the past, the STAR interview technique might be worth a shot for situational interview questions. The acronym STAR stands for Situation, Tasks, Action, and Results. Let’s take a closer look at each of these elements to understand the STAR method.
✍️ Situation: The first part of your response should contextualize a situation or scenario in which the problem to be successfully addressed occurs—where it occurs, when, and how.
✍️ Tasks: Tasks refer to your mission or purpose in the context/situation previously described. What is the challenge that has arisen and what role do you play to solve it?
✍️ Action: For action in the STAR method, you should clearly emphasize the actions taken to deal with a certain scenario and solve a problem. This is where you demonstrate how you act in the face of challenges, why, how, and through what means.
✍️ Results: Wrap up by specifically mentioning the results achieved through your actions. Depending on the case, you may describe them qualitatively and/or quantitatively to delve into the impact they had and how they helped you grow as a professional.
You'll be able to organize your thoughts more coherently if you follow the STAR method for questions and answers, whether you're speaking from personal experience or envisioning yourself in a hypothetical scenario.
Further reading: STAR Interview Method: Definition, Tips, and Examples
Here are some useful tips that will help you with situational based interview questions:
Don’t rush when dealing with situational interview questions so you do not mess it up! Take some seconds to process the question and extract its important details so you start with the right foot.
As you answer the recruiter, be clear in showing your line of thought in a linear and easy-to-follow format. Be clear in explaining your reasoning and perceptions if needed.
When presenting an idea while answering a situational interview question, be sure to not mix them with other ideas. Narrow down your main points for the question and elaborate on each point made.
While it’s best to refrain from stepping in with assumptions when the interviewer is talking, once you are giving your answer, if you have an assumption, make sure you clearly let them know it is an assumption so your answer does not backfire.
There is no better way to answer a question than giving a concrete example that solves a situational interview question. Use this to your advantage and use the STAR method when facing scenario-based interview questions.
Here is a wide selection of examples of situational interview questions, both job-specific and general situational questions. These situational interview questions and answers cover different types of situations, including examples of conflict in the workplace, unhappy customers, dealing with unexpected changes, and many other types of scenarios during an interview.
Q: A patient arrives after having an episode of Afib (atrial fibrillation). How do you communicate with their relatives who aren't familiar with medical terminology?
A: It is critical that we communicate with our patients and their relatives who are not medically trained in basic terms and employ a strategy to ensure that they grasp what is being said to them. I would explain what happens when a patient has Afib, which can be summarized as an irregular heartbeat.
Q: What would you do if your team is failed to impress a top client and overpromised on a project timeline and unfortunately, the team doesn’t have the resources to deliver by the deadline they have promised, and they end up losing the client? How would you calm the angry and dissatisfied client to resolve this concern?
A: Firstly, I would reach out to the client and take full responsibility for the loss, and I would ask the client to give us a chance to make up for the loss. I shall answer a call from a dissatisfied client and I shall listen to the client’s concerns and use phrases like, ‘I completely understand your frustration.’ Then, I shall take down their information and promised to call them back with the project competition.
Q: What approach or strategy would you use to learn new information in our institution?
A: I feel that taking notes while reading or listening to a lecture helps me remember new information. Writing down the relevant elements helps me absorb and think about the new material in two ways: first, it helps me absorb and think about the new information, and second, my notes serve as a study guide that I may refer to in the future.
Q: How would you respond if you saw another firefighter is not performing duty well?
A: If I witness this issue, I would first approach the individual to make sure I understood what is wrong with him and I would try to make him understand. I would report the incident to my supervisor if there was no logical explanation or if I didn't trust that particular story.
Q: What would you do if your manager was wrong about something crucial and you were certain of it?
A: I'll try to inform my manager of the error, but I'll make sure to do it secretly so as not to offend them. As a subordinate, on the other hand, I would respect my bounds and avoid disrespecting or undermining them.
Q: What would you do if a client complains that you take too long to resolve a problem?
A: I would notify clients of an approximated time that’s needed to fulfill a task and an explanation why. This isn't always doable, though. If I received this comment, I would first acknowledge it without becoming defensive. ‘I apologize that this issue is taking longer than intended’ would be my typical response. After that, I'd seek for viable alternatives.
Q: What is your ideal vision for company culture and how would you uphold company values for this position?
A: Culture can be like styles of leadership. Everyone seems to have their own preferences. Culture, in my opinion, is the ideal means for a community to agree to act in accordance with common ideals.
Q: You and a colleague are responding to a burglary incident. Before leaving the site, you notice your partner taking a valuable item from the site. What would you do?
A: If I would observe these activities, I would ask my colleague to put that thing back from where he picked it up and I will advise him to not do such things again.
Q: If a member doesn’t attend sprint meetings regularly, what would be your response?
A: Firstly, I shall talk to the team member privately and ask open-ended questions to figure out their reasoning. Then, I would make a case for why sprint planning meetings are important and why all team members should attend.
Q: How would you handle a situation in which a client needs your assistance, but it's five minutes until your shift is over?
A: Before I leave for the day, I would take care of the client’s needs. Clients always come first, and it's important that they feel valued and heard. Making them feel heard can us gain their trust, and provide the groundwork for a productive working relationship.
Q: How would you make sure the organization’s network is safe and secure?
A: I would start with a walkthrough of the basic security features, such as firewalls, routers, and VPNs. Moreover, I would also think about good security practices you can implement, like creating strong passwords and keeping software updated.
Q: What will your approach be towards short sales cycles? What about long sales cycles?
A: A short sales cycle is typically much quicker than a long sale. I would always respond quickly to all the prospective clients’ questions and concerns to keep them interested in the sale. Since a long sales cycle entails a bigger effort, I maintain contact by explaining that I'm not giving a one-sided sales pitch, but a chance to cooperate. I use a variety of strategies to stay in touch with prospects, based on their preferences.
Q: How would you handle a client's outburst in reaction to your recommendation?
A: My first response to a client's rage is to remain cool. I know that becoming emotionally worked up could exacerbate a bad situation, so I try to stay level-headed and professional. Then I’d utilize active listening skills to let them vent their frustrations while I obtain a better understanding of their point of view. I'll summarize what they're saying and, if necessary, ask follow-up questions to make sure I fully comprehend their point of view. Then I'll state again that my purpose is to assist and that I am dedicated to working through this as a team.
Q: Which statement would you use if you just had one statement to analyze a company's overall health and why?
A: Cash reigns supreme. The cash flow statement depicts the exact amount of cash generated by the company. However, it's vital to highlight that all three assertions are required to gain a complete view of a company's status.
Q: For different procurements, what contract types will you use to engage with suppliers and contractors?
A: It will be necessary to enter into a formal agreement with the chosen vendors. These agreements will be legally binding in order to protect both parties’ interests and rights while also specifying their responsibilities. There are several contract kinds to choose from, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
Q: Let’s say you have to market a product with a team of people who had very different ideas and values from you. How would you manage the situation?
A: Disagreements may arise when you work in a team with several people who are from very different backgrounds. The way I would work to bridge this gap is by defining what our product is and focusing on the product rather than on our differences. By focusing on that, we are able to work together and move forward.
Q: How would you handle a case when a disappointed client seeks to return something but is unable to do so due to business policy?
A: I feel empathy is crucial, so I would acknowledge their dissatisfaction and apologize for the product's shortcomings. Then, in a calm and professional manner, I would inform them that the purchase is sadly outside of the company's return window or is ineligible, offering a summary of the relevant portion of the return policy. If it doesn’t completely remedy the problem, and I don't have any more company-approved solutions to offer the customer, I'd offer to have a supervisor look into it.
Q: As a leader, what do you consider to be intrusive supervision? What impact will it have on an employee?
A: When a person is given more attention than he requires, this is known as over supervision. Employees become annoyed and upset when they are in this predicament. They stop attempting new things and taking chances. They cease to make independent decisions, and their commitment and initiative decrease.
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--- Originally written by Jose J. Rosales ---