Nowadays, employers tend to ask more behavioural  and situational questions (rather than the standard traditional ones) which force the candidate to think quickly to come up with satisfactory answers.

Both behavioural and situational questions are strategically designed to draw out responses that relate to the job requirements and also tell the interviewer how you’d react in a specific situation.

Your responses will give the employer a good idea whether or not you’re a fit.

Situational interview questions

Be prepared to be presented with hypothetical situations and what you would do.

These questions are strategically designed to find out how you will handle the specifics of a position and will give clues as to what you value and what your strengths and weakness are.

These can be tricky to answer because you may have NEVER been faced with the situation you are asked to elaborate on.

In that case, you need to get creative and think of a similar type of situation you were up against and how you handled it. But keep in mind, you need to do some research first to be able to formulate responses that addresses certain criteria. I cover this off father down the article.

Some examples of situational questions are:

“What would you do if a client got really upset with you even when you were right?” 

“How would you prioritize if you were given multiple assignments?”

“How would you pitch our product to a new client?”

“What would you do if your team was under performing?”

Behavioural interview questions

This methodology is based on the premise that the most accurate predictor of future performance is how one performed in the past under similar situations.

Like situational questions, behavioural questions give the interviewer a good idea of where your strengths and weaknesses are.

They can also show where you may have learned from a mistake and where you may have made improvements to your skills, knowledge, or other area.

Some common behavioral interview questions are:

“Tell me about a time where you made a mistake and how you handled it”

“Give me an example when you did something beyond your comfort zone?”

“Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your boss and what you did?”

“Take me through the steps when you identified a problem and resolved it?”

How to prepare for these tricky questions

The best way to prepare for situational and behavioural interviews is to understand the position and company you are interviewing for.

Since you have no way of knowing what the questions will be, you will have to formulate stories that address those things that are important to the employer so you’ll need to do some research.

You can start by reviewing the company website, talking to the company’s recruiter (3rd party or in-house person) and/or a contact within the company, and where ever else (online and offline) you can find information about the employer and the position.

You should also thoroughly review the job description so you know what all of the key job requirements are (e.g. hard/soft skills, experience, education, credentials).  Your answer should then show the employer that you excel in at least some of the key requirements or that you have improved in those areas if lack of experience/skills were an area of “weakness”.

The information you need to glean is as follows:

#2:  Find out what the employer’s top challenges/problems are that they want to solve  (e.g. equipment breakdowns) and what kind of solutions that are seeking (e.g. increased throughput).  Your answer should demonstrate where  you successfully handled these kinds of challenges and the kinds of solutions you delivered or where you have taken steps to improve in these areas.

#3:  Find out what the company values (e.g. problem-solving, accuracy, initiative, teamwork, time management, customer service, etc.).  Your answer should illustrate where you possess the same value(s) or where you have taken steps to embrace these values.

The 3 top things to keep in mind when answering the questions

Be SPECIFIC. Give specific examples where you can, especially when answering behavioural questions.

Be CONCISE. Give details but don’t go overboard. Avoid giving too much back story and keep the conversation “linear” so it’s easy to follow.

Be DIRECT. Deliver a response that directly addresses the question. Don’t go off on a tangent.

Formulate your story using these techniques

Use PAR, SAR, CAR to create your story.  Each story should have a clear beginning, middle, and end.

Beginning: What was the Situation/Challenge/Problem or Task?  This sets the stage.

Middle:  What Action did you take? How did you participate in a project, initiative, or task? This shows what your contribution was.

End:  What was the end result? (Outcome)  This shows what the outcome was, whether positive (an accomplishment) or negative (a learning opportunity)

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