Situation-Based Questions During Interviews

Interview questions are designed to help determine the type of person you are.
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Instead of being stressed out about your job interview that's coming up, review some of these questions an interviewer might ask and practice answering them in advance. When you've made the cut for the interview, the potential employer already recognizes that you have the skills and experience for the job. He uses situation-based questions during the interview to see how well you think on your feet, your behavior in the situation and to test your professionalism. Bottom line, he wants to know if your personality and character are a good fit for the company.

Getting Along with Others

One question an interviewer might ask you to determine how well you interact with others and cope with workplace conflicts is "tell me about a situation when you had to handle an upset or angry co-worker or customer and how you resolved the situation." This type of question provides insight into how well you deal with conflicts between yourself and others. It shows your resourcefulness and provides insight into your ability to separate yourself from the problem and deal with it objectively.

Working with the Boss

Employers prefer people who can adapt to the personality differences among the company's staff and managers. You might have experienced a situation where you didn't get along with your boss, but still needed to be professional because you reported to her. "Describe a situation where you had to deal with a manager or supervisor whom you didn't like," is one way the interviewer might phrase it. Another version might be, "tell me about a previous supervisor whom you disliked, but still needed to work with; discuss the approach you took to make the situation work."


"Describe a situation where you were in the midst of completing a list of prioritized tasks and your boss brought a new project to you requiring immediate attention. Explain how you reacted and completed the projects." Employers prefer people who have the ability to adjust to the changing demands in the workplace. Some people get upset when they are asked to drop what they are doing to begin a new project. Your flexibility and ability to respond professionally is what the interviewer looks for by asking these types of questions.

Leadership Skills

Employers want to find employees who have leadership skills or can develop them. The interviewer often asks questions that can bring these abilities to light. He might ask you a question such as "give me an example of a situation where you had to take the initiative to solve a problem." You need to answer by depicting a specific situation from a relevant event in your life, the action you took and the results that were achieved. In all situation-based questions, provide specific answers from experience; don't BS the interviewer. A faked answer stands out like a black eye to an astute interviewer.

Communicating Effectively

These types of behavioral questions require that you answer them succinctly and clearly. It's a good idea to portray the situation or behavior using detailed information. The double-bladed sword of these questions is that your ability to communicate effectively is also being tested when the interviewer asks situational or behavioral questions. Don't forget to communicate the problem concisely, discuss how you solved the problem and the outcome that resulted. How well you answer the situation-based questions during the interview can make or break your candidacy.

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