Situational interview questions ask job applicants to imagine a set of circumstances and then indicate how they would respond in that situation. The questions are future oriented and you are expected to describe actions for hypothetical scenarios rather than from direct experience. Situational interview questions allow respondents with no direct experience a chance to show what they would do in a hypothetical situation. Good situational questions will tie into the vacancy’s key selection criteria and most use a scoring system so ensure to read the position description thoroughly.
Situational example questions:
- You are managing a work group and notice that one of your employees has become angry and hostile in recent weeks, to the point of disrupting the entire group. What would you do?
- You are in a meeting. Your manager blames you for not doing well on a task, in front of all your peers and managers from other divisions. You believe that your manager is wrong in his critique, and that he might have come to this conclusion hastily without knowing all the information. What would you do in this situation?
- While managing a project, you become aware that you may not meet your projected finish date. Tomorrow is the annual board meeting of your peers where you are expected to provide a project update. What actions would you take in this situation?
Telephone interviews are frequently used as a quick and efficient way to create a short list. You may be asked several questions in regards to your work experience, reasons for applying to the position, what your motivations are and salary expectations.
A telephone interview may be the only chance you get to become shortlisted, here are some tips to ensure you make the best impression:
- Be prepared and do your research on the company once you have applied, phone calls can be made at any point once you submit your application.
- Find a quiet and private place to take the phone call. You will want to eliminate any background noise so you are not distracted and can be heard clearly. Don’t be afraid to ask for a moment to find a quiet place to talk.
- Don’t worry about brief silences. In fact, it’s better to take a moment to digest the question than jump in and answer before you’ve thought about what you want to say. Plus, people pay attention to those who know how to listen.
- Ask some questions about the position that you do not know about from the advertisement. This will help you understand the position better and prepare you for a possible face-to-face interview.
- Have a friend call you and see how you sound. Ask whether you sound better standing or sitting. Some people sound much more relaxed when standing, or even pacing. Find out what suits you best for this important call.
- Focus on your voice and tone. Smiling over the phone can make you sound upbeat, enthusiastic and interested in the position, providing a positive impression for the interviewer.
Behavioural interviews are past-oriented, in that they ask respondents to relay what they did in past jobs or life situations that are relevant to the particular job, skills, and abilities required for success. Basically, how you handled a situation in the past will give the interviewer gauge how you will perform on a future job.
When asked these questions, always relate your answer to the key selection criteria, keeping it relevant, current and to the point. Spend time documenting your experience against key selection criteria and document challenges faced and how you overcame these challenges.
The STAR method is one way you can structure your answers to ensure you impress the interviewer. The STAR method is a structured manner of responding to a behavioural-based interview question by discussing the specific situation, task, action, and result of the situation you are describing.
- Situation: Describe the situation that you were in or the task that you needed to accomplish. This should describe specifics rather than general descriptions of past
- Task: What goal were you working toward?
- Action: Describe the actions you took to address the situation with detail and focus on yourself. What specific steps did you take and what was your contribution?
- Result: Describe the outcome of your actions. What happened? How did the event end? What did you accomplish? What did you learn? Make sure your answer contains multiple positive results.
Behavioural example questions:
- Tell me about a time when you had to many things to complete and you were required to prioritise your tasks.
- Give me an example of a time when you had to make a split second decision.
- Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince something to see things your way.
- Tell me about a recent situation in which you had to deal with a very upset customer or co-worker.
Questions to ask the Interviewer
It is important to ask questions at the end of your interview so you can also gain a better understanding on the company, culture, team and position. You will also make a good impression that you are interested in the position and eager to find out more.
- Why is this role vacant?
- What is the future career progression for this role?
- Can you tell me more about the team?
- What do you enjoy best about working here?
- What is the next step in the interview process?
- When can I expect to hear from you?
Common Interview Mistakes
- Wearing inappropriate attire. It is better to over-dress than under-dress.
- Being under-prepared. Always research the job, selection criteria and company website.
- Failing to ask questions after the interview. Asking questions shows the interviewer you are interested in the role and company.
- Asking about the benefits or salary too early in the interview. Your main focus should be your suitability to the role.
- Speaking inappropriately about previous employers.
- Lying about professional qualifications or experience.
- Talking too much and not listening to the interviewer.
- Answering to a phone call or text during an interview! (Our all-time favourite) Turn your phone off or to silent before stepping into an interview.