Published on October 4, 2018
Interview Question Series: How to Answer Situation-Based Questions
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Do you have a job interview coming up? Are you wondering about all the possible questions they might ask you? Well, after reading this article, you’re sure to walk into your interview with a clear understanding of how to answer any situation-based questions your hiring-manager or employer may inevitably ask you.
What Are Situation-Based Questions?
Situation-based questions include questions such, “describe a situation where you needed to take initiative”, or, “describe a situation where you needed to complete work under a tight deadline”. These questions are much-loved interview questions that are designed to investigate any past experience you may have had and how your skills can contribute to the career you’re seeking, as well as your ability to think on the spot.
Situation-Based Questions: Why do they include, and how should you respond?
The Balance Careers provided an excellent explanation of situation-based questions and how to answer them by stating that:
The candidate is asked to assess a situation and provide solutions on how he or she would handle it. In many cases, situation-based interview questions involve problem-solving and handling difficult situations in the workplace. The best way to respond to is to provide concrete examples of how you handled a similar situation on the job. That way, you’re providing the interviewer with solid information on how you would handle the situation.
The best way to respond to situational interview questions
There are some very important aspects of answering these questions. It’s best to break them down into four parts, and these aren’t things that you can wing on the interview. It can take time thinking back on past experiences in your job, and the last thing you want is to be caught out.
Be prepared and have a definite understanding of the role and the position you are applying for
During your research, make a list of events that happened in your previous role or in your past that led to a positive outcome
Develop a few short stories about specific examples where you solved the problem and how you solved the problem
Apply these examples to the questions
Situation-based questions are not always necessarily about past experience; instead, they’re often hypothetical and are designed to make you think on the spot. If you follow the 4 rules previously mentioned and do your research about the job you’re applying for, then you will be able to centre your answer to provide a useful example of how you would be an excellent contribution to the team.
The questions that are asked usually to relate to the job you’re applying for. For example, if you’re applying for a managerial position, it’s highly liked that the questions will centre around how you would handle the specific scenarios as a manager.
Example of a situation-based interview question and sample response
What would you do if the work of a team member was not up to expectations?
I have had much experience in previous roles facing a similar situation as this. Honest, transparent communication is very important in the workplace, and vital to ensure that other team members can develop their own skills. In a previous role at Cafe Strata, I encounter a situation where one of the waitstaff were underperforming, but it was less about them putting in less effort, and moreso a lack of proper training. The most important thing to do in this situation, is take them to the side and let them know of the issue, not in front of others. It’s also important to ask them what they feel they need to improve themselves and work together to form a solution.
This is an excellent example of how to respond to a difficult situation-based question in a professional manner. The above response highlights some key communications skill, which is a vital aspect of most jobs, and also demonstrates the ability to solve problem in an efficient manner. Using the key focus areas previously mentioned in ensuring that the answers relates to the jobs and delivering it in a confident way. This will undoubtedly impress your employer or hiring manager as it will prove to them your determination for the job and separate you from any other candidates.
And so, when answering any situational-based interview questions it’s vital to maintain confidence, research the job you’re applying for and have a very clear understanding of what is needed and expected from you if you were to get the job; as well as forming all answers around the job description. Many people dread these sorts of questions, but if you follow this guide then you’ll have nothing to worry about as you can formulate a professional deliverance of your skills and experience through your answer.
With this guide in mind, you’re sure to obtain the job you’re seeking and impress your employer in your next interview. Good Luck!
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