Situational interviews are becoming more prevalent at interviews conducted by a lot of companies in Ireland. They are not too far removed from behavioural interviewing in that your answer can still give a real example but they can be hard to predict.
The questions is hypothetical, a 'what would you do' phrased questions rather than the behavioural 'what did you do'. Below is an example of a situational question with the incorrect and correct answer:
You’re working on a project with a tight deadline but you find that you’re unable to complete your section because your coworkers and your supervisor are unavailable to answer a few key questions. How do you deal with the situation?
“Hey, if they’re not there, there’s nothing I can do about it. If I’m responsible enough to be working on the project with the idea that I’m holding up my end to get us to deadline on time, then I would expect them to do the same.
If I can’t reach them and they can’t help me in the way that they are supposed to help me, then forget them!
Interviewers ask situational questions like these because the interviewer wants to know how you would handle a problem that might actually arise if you’re hired for the job.
Most of their questions are based off potentially real situations and the last thing you want to do is give them a reason to fire you before they even hire you!
If your response includes any sort of passing off the task to another individual in order to absolve yourself of responsibility or as an excuse to cut out early from work…that won't go down well.
“This is a tough one. The first thing I would do is really sit back for a moment and assess the situation. I would look at the project overall and see if there was a way for me to perhaps redirect my focus onto other areas I could work on by myself without their assistance and postpone the parts I need help on until they were again available. If that isn’t a possibility, then I would make sure to exhaust every avenue I have at my disposal to try to get in contact with them.
I actually ran into a similar situation on a project a few years ago where I needed to get some specific answers to a problem before I was able to move forward to the next step. Unfortunately my co-worker who had the answers was in an area where I was unable to reach him in time. I managed to continue working on sections that didn’t require his input and by the time I was done with those, he was back in range and able to answer my questions.
Not only did we make our deadline, but by getting the other sections done first, we were able to focus all our attention on the final segment and really bring it together in a way that exceeded our clients expectations. It was a real win! Staying calm and focused and making sure I was doing everything within my power to make the project a success gave me the ability to figure out how to work around the situation successfully.”
Notice how this answer started off with the hypothetical section explaining what this person would do and then cleverly backed it up with a real example demonstrating a situation where this really happened. It sounds really credible to an interviewer.
These questions are designed to be a little harder to predict but if the interviewer has been trained well they will tend to keep it competency focussed. most desired competencies can be found in job descriptions.
If you have an interview coming up that you know is situational and you are unsure of answering these don't hesitate to get in touch and book an appointment for training.
Clare Reed is a leading global expert Interview Coach with over 22 years global interviewing and coaching experience.