If you have an interview scheduled, make sure you are ready beforehand to avoid going blank. Although you will benefit greatly from practicing how to answer the regular interview questions, learning how to handle situational interview questions is also a must.
You may be asked how you would respond to hypothetical situations that may arise in the workplace, and if you want to impress the hiring manager with your answers, you should put in the time to prepare.
If you need assistance figuring out where to start, we’ve got you covered! To help you feel prepared and ace your upcoming interview, we have compiled a list of 20 situational interview questions and answers you can use to practice.
So, let’s get right into it!
- Candidates’ ability to problem-solve in response to realistic work scenarios is tested through situational interview questions.
- The STAR approach is a valuable tool used to get ready for situational interview questions.
- There are a total of 20 situational interview questions in this article, ranging from ones about past failures and ways of overcoming them to ones about instances of significant change and ways of adapting to them.
How to Answer Situational Interview Questions
Situational interview questions allow employers to gain a better understanding of a candidate’s ability to solve problems and communicate effectively with others.
The STAR method is the most effective strategy for responding to situational interview questions. Here’s what this method consists of:
- Situation. Consider a difficult situation you have encountered in your working life, such as managing multiple tasks at once.
- Task. Discuss the part you played in the matter and how it was resolved.
- Action. Describe what you did to get past the difficulty. Make sure to emphasize your skills.
- Result. Talk about the results of your actions and highlight what you learned from the experience.
You may not know what situational interview questions will be asked at the interview. Still, if you consider a few challenges using the STAR method, you will discover that you can modify your responses to address various circumstances.
Knowing the difference between situational vs behavioral interview questions is also important. With behavioral interview questions, recruiters are more likely to inquire about particular examples from your past that illustrate how you’ve used the relevant skills, unlike with the situational ones.
That’s why these questions should also be taken into consideration during the interview preparation process.
20 Situational Interview Questions
Now that you know why situational interview questions are asked, let’s look at some examples and discuss the best ways to respond to them.
#1. Tell me about a time you failed a task and how you learned from it.
This is an example of a situational question that can be used for all career profiles. Every working professional has been in a situation where they lack the skills necessary to do a certain task successfully.
While this question appears to be probing for a weakness, it is actually testing for personal accountability and a willingness to improve.
So, don’t beat yourself up over a failed task. Instead, think about the solutions you found and the lessons you learned.
Sample Answer: At one of the most prominent fashion magazines, where I was in charge of the content editors department, I was tasked with reviewing every article before publication to ensure that it met the magazine’s high standards.
I reviewed some of the pieces just before the due date, and in my haste, I missed a few errors. After this happened, I made it a point to improve my ability to manage time and focus on what was most important, and the magazine hasn’t had any more problems like this since.
#2. Describe a situation where you weren’t satisfied with your job and how you handled it.
This type of scenario-based question is useful for interviews of all sorts. It is intended to determine if the applicant can think creatively and independently to solve problems at work and enhance productivity.
In other words, don’t just state the most obvious issue while responding to this question. Think about how you fixed the problem and received the result you wanted.
Sample Answer: When working in retail, you might have to deal with unhappy consumers. In our retail store, the management instructed us to ignore customer complaints and send them to their email instead. As a result, there were many unanswered emails and frustrated customers.
I decided to check in with the team first to see if they would be open to hearing the client’s concerns and working to find solutions. Then, I spoke with the manager, who agreed with my opinion and suggested we deal with the unsatisfied customers ourselves.
Things started looking up after that, and now our shop has a perfect 5-star rating for service and happiness among its clientele.
#3. Tell me about a time when you noticed a team member making a mistake; what did you do about it?
This is one of the situational interview questions for managers. It is used to determine what kind of steps one would take to ensure that the outcome doesn’t suffer.
In your answer, don’t blame the other person for the error. Demonstrate understanding, fluency in communication, and problem-solving skills instead.
Sample Answer: As the head of the marketing division, I was reviewing the work that the team members had submitted when I noticed a miscalculation in one of the budget reports. I noted the error and requested a meeting with the responsible party.
They needed to be made aware of the error so they would be more careful in the future. The person has not made a similar calculation error since I brought it to their attention.
#4. What has been a challenging obstacle that you’ve faced so far in your career?
This is a situational interview question intended for teachers. Its purpose is to ascertain whether or not a candidate can identify a problem and take measures to solve it.
Rather than simply stating there was a problem and it got handled without any precise explanations or examples, try to zero in on anything significant that had a successful resolution.
Sample Answer: I had a quarrel with the parent of a kid in my final year of teaching high school. Even though the student performed poorly on the exam, they insisted that their child’s final grade be raised.
I did not break any academic or school rules, but I did recognize the significance of the final grade for a student’s future success in further education. As a result, I proposed a make-up exam for the whole class. This satisfied everyone involved and ended the dispute.
#5. Tell me about a time when you were under a lot of pressure and how you overcame this.
An inadequate work-life balance and an excessive workload are just two of the many factors that can cause stress at work. Whatever the circumstances, prospective employers want to know that you can work effectively under stress and maintain your usual level of performance.
Avoid dwelling on the fact that you were tense and that this hindered your ability to get things done. Instead, elaborate on the methods you used to alleviate your stress.
Sample Answer: The company I worked for went through a hardship early in my career. Many workers left, leaving behind an insurmountable amount of work for the remaining staff.
While under stress, instead of fixating on it, I joined the hiring team to help get new employees onboarded as soon as possible and devised strategies to better organize my time and schedule.
#6. How would you handle an unhappy client?
This is one of the situational interview questions designed to determine an applicant’s ability to think creatively and analytically under pressure.
When responding to this question, please refrain from making negative comments about the client. Instead, stress that you patiently worked through the issue and found a practical solution.
Sample Answer: When I worked in retail, I occasionally had to deal with frustrated customers. I would first find someone to cover for me and then go somewhere quiet within the store to speak with the customer.
Whenever a customer expressed unhappiness, I actively listened to their concerns and immediately devised a plan to rectify the situation. That typically involved exchanging the product or giving them a discount.
#7. How would you handle working with a troublesome coworker?
Working with a troublesome person is never fun, but it’s sometimes unavoidable. What really matters is whether or not you have the interpersonal and collaboration skills to work with such people. It’s always best not to talk down to others. Instead, try to show off your critical thinking skills.
Sample Answer: If I had to work alongside a troublesome worker, I would first try to establish a friendship with them to break the ice. Then, I’d evaluate their strengths and weaknesses and let them work on tasks where they would have the most interest.
Finally, if there were still problems, I would meet with them to discuss the situation and work toward a compromise. As a last option, I would involve higher-ups in the situation.
#8. You have been given a job that you have no idea how to do. How do you approach this situation?
This is one of the more popular situational interview questions to ask since it allows interviewers to evaluate the candidate’s ability to solve problems independently and identify when they need assistance.
Don’t give the impression that you like to go with the flow or that you manage to swing things in your favor. The answer to this question should be more purposeful in the eyes of recruiters.
Sample Answer: I would try to come up with a solution on my own. If the job called for specialized knowledge, I would first do some research online to get up to speed.
If the issue happened to be more internal to the organization, though, I would seek assistance from team members with relevant knowledge or management.
#9. Please describe a time when you encountered significant change at work. What steps did you take to readjust?
Employers ask these types of situational interview questions to evaluate a candidate’s adaptability and openness to change.
To best answer this question, highlight the ways in which you welcome change and take active measures to adjust to it.
Sample Answer: Two years ago, the corporation I worked for decided to divide the marketing department in half. I was chosen to lead the company’s new graphic design department as I was one of the company’s top graphic designers.
It was a huge task for me since I had never managed a division before. To ensure I was doing a good job and growing in my career, I sought direction from corporate management and input from team members.
#10. During a team meeting, one of your coworkers tries to pin the blame for an error on you. What do you do?
The best way to handle these kinds of situational interview questions is to show that you can keep your cool under pressure and explain how you would solve the problem.
Don’t say anything that could be interpreted as blaming or retaliating in any way. Instead, give a detailed account of all the steps taken that led to an error.
Sample Answer: If I were blamed for a mistake during a work meeting, I would remain calm and collected. I would turn to my colleagues and provide a detailed account of what had transpired. Explaining that pointing fingers at individuals is unprofessional and immature is also something I would do.
#11. A new member of staff has been added. How can we make them feel at home here?
In the workplace, employers are always looking for people who will be kind and cooperative with others and have excellent interpersonal skills.
Remember to highlight your enthusiasm for forming connections with people from various backgrounds while responding to this question.
Sample Answer: In my opinion, it’s crucial to make new hires feel comfortable and appreciated right away. Making a good first impression in the workplace is important since it can set the tone for the rest of a person’s experience there.
With that being said, I propose throwing a welcome party where people can meet one another and start building relationships with each other.
It’s also helpful to pair each new employee with a more seasoned coworker who can show them the ropes and explain how things work, making them feel more at ease and giving them someone to go to with questions.
#12. How would you react if you knew your manager was mistaken on a crucial business decision?
It can be nerve-wracking to speak up at a meeting of higher-ups, especially if you have to point out an error they’ve made. That’s why employers ask this question—they want to know whether or not you will speak up if it’s in the company’s best interest.
Sample Answer: I would tell them if I thought the management was wrong on a major business issue. Although it may be scary, it is in the business’s best interest that every error be brought to light and corrected.
So, I would respectfully request a meeting with them to discuss the problem further.
#13. When you’ve wrapped up your workday and have nothing left to do, how do you spend your time?
Recruiters are always looking for applicants who have interests outside of work; therefore, this is a crucial situational question. Candidates’ ability to strike a good balance between work and personal life is an important factor here.
In response to this question, share some of your most cherished activities, whether they include painting, reading, or something entirely different. It would be ideal if you could relate the activities to the skill sets you possess that may interest the recruiters.
Sample Answer: When I go home from work, I prefer to relax and pursue my hobbies. Every day, I set aside at least an hour to pursue my passion for music composition. In addition, I enjoy socializing with loved ones over meals and hanging out with my friends.
#14. If you had one hour to prepare a presentation, what steps would you take?
Employers ask this question because strong presentation abilities are crucial in many types of work.
So, don’t bring up the potential anxiety of having an hour to put together a presentation as part of your response. Instead of dwelling on the pressures of meeting a tight deadline, consider the actions you can take to get the job done.
Sample Answer: If I just had an hour to prepare a presentation, I would begin to work immediately. First, I’d draft a presentation outline.
I’d find an appropriate template and start gathering relevant data for each segment of the presentation, transcribing the essentials onto slides while storing the remainder in a Word document for later use as a reference.
#15. How would you convince somebody to see things from your perspective?
The ability to persuade others to see things from one’s point of view is crucial in any line of work.
Focus on demonstrating empathy, presenting things from a realistic yet positive perspective, using logical thinking, and being creative in your response to show that you can accomplish this.
Sample Answer: If I wanted to change someone’s mind, I’d start by hearing them out and demonstrating some degree of sympathy for their perspective. After that, I’d utilize my reasoning skills to convince them that my viewpoint is the most promising path to a positive outcome for everyone concerned.
#16. How do you break down technical jargon for clients who aren’t tech-savvy?
Employers use this question to see if you can simplify complex ideas. So, when answering, stress your fluency with plain words and familiarity with the subject matter.
Sample Answer: I would utilize simple language if asked to present data unique to a certain field. If you aren’t tech-savvy, don’t worry; I’ll do my best to explain the technical words in everyday English. I could illustrate the concepts using visuals and give concrete instances if given a chance.
#17. You’ve witnessed one of your teammates behaving badly toward another. How do you ensure that disagreements are avoided?
Coworkers must get along to achieve organizational goals. However, in the event of a disagreement, employers must be sure that they have hired individuals capable of handling workplace issues.
Sample Answer: If I saw a teammate misbehaving toward another teammate, I’d first pull them aside for a one-on-one chat. I would ensure they recognized their wrongdoing and expressed a desire to make amends with the teammate they offended. If things got out of hand, I would notify upper management.
#18. How can you avoid experiencing burnout while working on difficult projects?
Recruiters ask this to see if you have the stamina to work on several significant tasks simultaneously and if you have any strategies for avoiding burnout. So, instead of complaining about the stress of your workload, focus on what you can do to overcome it.
Sample Answer: Whenever I am tasked with juggling many projects, I maintain a neat and tidy workspace. I stay on top of things by using calendars and to-do lists. By breaking down large tasks into smaller ones and giving myself plenty of time to do them, I avoid feeling rushed or worried.
#19. What would you do if you got negative comments about a major project you worked on?
Employers ask this question to see if interviewees can take constructive criticism and use it to grow. In your response, show how vital it is to hear feedback, even if it’s criticism of a skill you thought you had mastered.
Sample Answer: Even though I may be disheartened to hear criticism of a project where I invested a lot of time and energy, I know that constructive criticism is the key to growth. Having a new set of eyes to provide feedback on your work can help you spot errors you may have missed.
#20. Please describe the process you use to set and pursue professional objectives.
Employers use this question to see if a candidate can focus on long-term goals and take practical measures toward their stated goals. Be sure to respond with a plan of action that, with hard work and determination, can bring about the desired outcome.
Sample Answer: The very first thing I do is consider the objectives. To decide how to best work toward each set of objectives, I first decide whether they are long-term or short-term. After I’ve nailed that down, I make a to-do list with action items I can cross off and evaluate for success. This way, I can see how far I’ve come toward my objectives.
While situational interview questions can appear daunting at first, the truth is that they are almost always about something you have already experienced or about which you have some prior knowledge.
But if you’re still nervous about responding correctly, we hope this article has taught you everything you need to know. Use it to practice before your job interview and nail it! Good luck!