what is a situational interview?
A situational interview is a type of interview in which candidates are asked questions about various hypothetical scenarios.
The goal of this type of interview is to understand how candidates will respond to challenges in their work environment, or how they handled similar cases in previous roles. Situational interviews help recruiters assess a candidate’s problem-solving abilities in a variety of situations.
what does a situational interview involve?
In a typical interview, the recruiter will present a specific workplace scenario and ask the candidate to describe what they will do.
For example, the interviewer might ask: “You’re working on a project, and you realise you’ve skipped a critical phase. What do you do?”
In this scenario, the interviewer is looking to gauge the candidate’s reaction, thought process, and plan of action. The candidate’s response will allow them to determine what skills they’ll use to address the situation and how they’ll respond based on their role within the project team.
Ideally, the correct response should demonstrate the candidate’s grasp of the situation and task, their potential actions, and the results they hope to achieve.
why is a situational interview important?
Every work environment presents unique challenges and responsibilities that may not necessarily be in the job description. As a result, it’s vital to find candidates who can handle these challenges as they arise.
Situational interview questions are open-ended, focusing on how the candidate will handle real-life situations and what skills they’ll use. This allows hiring teams to eliminate candidates with unprofessional tendencies, which might disrupt your business.
Here are a few ways situational interviews can help identify the right candidates for your organisation:
assess problem-solving abilities
As we mentioned, situational interviews allow you to evaluate how the candidate will respond to different work scenarios, including those they can’t prepare for. Their responses will let you uncover their analytical and problem-solving skills, which are vital in addressing unexpected problems and offering solutions.
gauge communication skills
How well can the candidate communicate problems whenever they occur? How can the applicant convey critical information to other team members or management? A situational interview lets you know whether or not the candidate has the practical communication skills needed in different circumstances, such as handling an angry customer or giving bad news to an employee.
determine the ability to work under pressure
Managing workplace challenges means working under pressure to meet tight deadlines, make rush deliveries, or fix system problems. Asking situational interview questions will give you an idea of how a candidate will perform under pressure while delivering the necessary solutions and results.
is a situational interview structured?
Yes, a situational interview is structured. You can discuss the situational interview questions and their potential answers with your hiring team before the interviews. In this case, you can use the discussed answers as a benchmark during the interviews.
You might want candidates with an exceptionally creative thought process, innovative strategies, or specific problem-solving skills for some roles. As such, a structured situational interview is ideal for identifying distinguishable candidates based on your prospective responses.
what is an example of a situational interview question?
As a recruiter, the best way to create situational interview questions is by identifying challenges or obstacles you've faced in the workplace. You can use the STAR method to outline each scenario's situation, task, action, and result while projecting the best responses for each question.
Here are some situational interview questions you could ask:
- How do you handle a mistake you’ve made that no one noticed?
- What do you do when an angry customer confronts you?
- What do you do if you’re asked to work on a project you have no experience with?
- You’re working on a project, but one of your team members is slacking off. How do you handle the team member?
- You’re working in a team with someone you don’t get along with. What do you do?
Note that you can create interview questions based on specific categories to gauge different skills and abilities. The questions can cover areas like time management, teamwork, goals and motivation, communication skills, adaptability, and stress. The more you learn about the candidates, the better.
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