Ways to Answer Situational Interview Questions

One telltale sign that competition for jobs, especially for entry level positions, in virtually every segment of trade and commerce, is the changing trend and pattern of interviewing candidates. The conventional mode of asking straightforward questions that assesses a candidate’s responsiveness to certain hypothetical situations for the position he’s applying for, is giving way to an approach of interviewing that is more ‘behavioural’ or ‘situational’.

interview questions

In a situational interview, you’re most likely to be asked a specific set of questions that relate to actual circumstances or situations surrounding the ‘position‘ or ‘job title’ you’re aspiring for. You’re asked to clarify on what you’d do or how you would handle if you find yourself in a particular situation. Such behavioural questions gauge your competency or tactfulness in managing complex situations that might arise in your workplace.

The interviewer would ask you to come up with instances of similar state of affairs that you might have faced in your previous positions and how you dealt with them. On the other hand, an interview that borders more on traditional lines depends excessively on questions that harp on imaginary or make-believe situations.

If you’ve had the experience of facing both types of interviews, you’d readily agree that facing a situational interview gives you an adrenaline rush and makes you feel tenser than when you’re attending a conventional form of interview. Sample some questions that usually figure in an interview that is customary in nature. ‘Tell me something about yourself”? “Tell me about your strengths and weaknesses?” “How’d you position X, Y or Z product in the market”? “What strategies would you take to avoid missing deadlines?” How’d deal with a colleague who harasses you?”

You can answers these questions with panache and be diplomatic enough to answer exactly in the way your interviewer expects you to. These sort of questions don’t really help the interviewer to form a concrete idea on whether you’d fit with the company’s organizational culture or to what extent you’d contribute to its overall growth and development. Even though you may answer the above questions in an acceptable manner, your interviewer won’t be able to vouchsafe that you’d be able to translate your words into action during real time situations.

In other words, your actual worth or potential is not revealed during a traditional round of interview. A behavioural or situational interview, in marked contrast, takes on a more of an ‘in-your-face’ stance and is more challenging. There’s no room for speculating on how you’d tackle or deal with an imaginary or theoretical situation.

The interviewer is well aware that you can prepare and window dress your resume to make it appear very fetching that may not mirror your true persona. Therefore, to gauge your capabilities, you’re asked probing questions that gives the interviewer an indication of your problem solving and conflict resolution expertise.

You’re most likely to be asked the following questions when you turn up for a situational interview:- “Since you often might be required to take on-the-spot decisions during tense and stressed out situations, can you relate instances from your previous employment positions when you found yourself in similar circumstances?”

“Speak about a specific occasion or occasions when you were under pressure to take a stand?” “How did you handle situations where priorities changed frequently?”

You’ll never be able to prepare an exhaustive list of questions that you’ll possibly be asked in a typical situational interview simply because the scope of framing such questions is almost limitless. The interviewer on the basis of these penetrating posers’ just wants to have a tangible opinion about how you socialize with others and influence them; how you communicate and deliver as a team member; how you manage to work in tandem with troublesome colleagues; your managerial and organization skills and so on.

Since your prospective recruiter will weigh you up in every possible way until he or she is thoroughly satisfied that you’re the right candidate for the job, you too, on your part, should not leave anything to chance.

The following guidelines should help you in preparing adequately before you can face a situational interview panel.

1. Answer To the Point and Be Concise

Don’t beat around the bush when fielding situational questions. Try to be specific and give short yet informative replies. Don’t make your narration long-winded that may end up confusing your interviewer. You should aim at answering the question in a manner that gives your interviewer a solid conception about how dealt with a specific situation in as many few words as possible.

Don’t take more than 2-3 minutes in completing your explanations. Make a shortlist of questions that you’re expecting and practise answering the same over and over again in front of a mirror and keep an eye on your body language. The idea is to make your interviewer feel confident about you and dispel his fears and that is only possible if you can radiate warmth and self-confidence while answering questions.

 2. Enquire About the Job Profile

Since the situational or behavioural questions will inevitably dwell on situations or circumstances relevant to the job for which you’ve submitted your CV, you’ll be well placed if you can conduct some research on the job profile. For instance, if you’re appearing for the interview of a sales manager’s position in a shop of a retail chain, you can rehearse on how you’ll cope with customer grievances and handle employees who are lax in handling customer complaints’.

3. Unravel the Mystery Surrounding Situational Interviews

As far as traditional or conventional interviews are concerned, you can at least make a good guess of the probable questions that you’ll be asked and therefore be mentally prepared in advance. But with situational interviews, it is an altogether different ballgame. There are no pre-established syllabi or curriculum from which you prepare an arsenal to face the ammunition from your potential recruiter.

So, trying to unravel and comprehend the real motive(s) behind holding a behavioural interview would be your best bet. The very words ‘situational’ and ‘behavioural’ give away the objectives behind having such an interview technique in place. You can easily surmise that most of the questions will try to establish just one simple fact and that is whether you’re the right man for the vacancy you’re about to fill.

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