There can be vague and confusing questions asked during an interview that throw you off when you are trying to be at your best during and interview for key positions, such as management consulting, strategy consulting or investment banking jobs. These questions make you realize how much easier it was to answer those tough-sounding technical questions you were asked during your first few job interviews. At least you knew whether you were right or wrong and after the interview you’d know how well you fared. With situational interviews, most candidates have a big question mark about their performance and how it would be perceived by their interviewers.
What are situational interview questions?
These are questions designed to make you think, analyze a given situation and arrive upon the best-possible decision. Thus it is meant to probe into your behavioral / thought process. These questions allow the interviewer to find out certain aspects of your personality, decision-making and working style in general. The questions could be in the area of inter-personal skills, analytical ability, capacity to work under pressure, multi-tasking skills or cover many other aspects.
Why do companies ask situational interview questions?
Your resume contains a listing of all the important projects handled, various roles played by you, your milestones that you’d like your future employer to know. It’s good if you can pick up tips on how to write a good resume as you may also be asked questions related to your resume. Now, at this stage, your recruiter is not just interested in knowing your achievements but also wants to find out how well you can work towards overcoming challenges and meeting your targets. They can also extrapolate these inputs to get a feel for how you would perform when you are faced with challenges you’ve never come across before.
Sample situational interview questions
Here are some examples of situational interview questions.
- Have you faced a situation wherein you had a conflict with a difficult colleague? How did you handle the situation?
- Have you ever been self-motivated to accomplish your goals?
- How do you take criticism? Think of a situation when you were criticized. What was your reaction?
- Describe a situation where you were unable to deliver. How did you manage and what did you learn?
- Have you faced a situation where your decision or opinion was different from the majority as you were not convinced about it? What did you do in that situation?
- Give us an example of a situation where you had to take a difficult decision based on very little data.
- Do you think you had a work-life balance in your previous job? If yes, how did you achieve it?
- Have you been faced with having to think beyond the conventional approach while solving a problem or taking decisions?
- Have you ever handled multiple projects or tasks, each of them equally important, having stringent deadlines?
- Can you think of a time when you went beyond your area of technical expertise and proved your skills on the non-technical side?
How to answer situational interview questions?
For each question that you encounter, don’t feel tempted to get started with an immediate response. Instead take some time to ask yourself these additional questions:
- What is the interviewer really trying to get out of this question?
- What kind of skills would I need to mention to assure the recruiter that I have what it takes to be a perfect fit in the new role?
- How can I answer this question with real-life events, rather than sounding vague or diplomatic?
Once you’re done with your thinking, answer systematically so that the interviewer gets convinced that in addition to the other skills, you also have clarity of thought and good communication skills.
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