8 Situational Interview Questions You Can Ask to Properly Vet Applicants

The hiring process of your company can make or break you. If you don’t ask the right questions at an interview, you could end up making costly hiring mistakes.

Giving jobs to people who are not qualified, are not easy to work with, or do not care about the work is one of the top ways a business can fail.

If you are constantly hiring and firing people, you are wasting time, resources, and money on something that could be entirely avoided.

That’s why conducting interviews the right way is vital to optimize your hiring process and better your company.

In this blog, we will discuss how asking situational interview questions will optimize your hiring process and benefit your business.

Situational Interview Questions

Before we get to specific situational interview questions to ask, let’s go over what exactly “situational” means.

When you conduct interviews, you will likely ask generic questions such as “what qualifies you for this position?” or “why do you think you’re the best candidate for the job?”

These types of questions are good for gauging an applicants “hard skills” which are directly related to the type of work they will be doing.

These are good questions to ask, but applicants will be prepared for these questions and have rehearsed answers, so its hard to rely on the info you get back.

Situational interview questions, on the other hand, ask the applicant to respond to a specific scenario given by the interviewer.

They focus more on an applicant’s “soft skills“, which are interpersonal skills important for a functioning and harmonious work environment.

Some soft skills include being good at communication, empathetic, and having the ability to listen.

Having a job candidate respond to situational interview questions will allow the interviewer to observe more of the applicant’s problem-solving and analytical skills.

When conducting these situational interviews, you should be able to pick up on personality traits, which will help you decide whether to hire them or not.

Now that we’ve established their importance, let’s take a look at 8 situational interview questions that will properly vet your applicants.

1. Describe a Scenario Where You Worked With a Difficult Manager or Coworker

The applicants answer will demonstrate a number of important qualities. You should be able to tell how they deal with authority figures, and how they communicate in problematic environments.

You can also take note of the candidate’s professionalism and ability to work with different personalities in an office.

A good applicant will show that they are able to work through adversity and get along with all people in an office setting, no matter how difficult it can be.

2. Talk About When You Had to Work Under a Tight Deadline

This is an important question to ask if you want to gauge how an applicant works under pressure.

Their response will show how they operate in stressful situations, and whether they can handle having a lot of responsibility put on them in small windows of time.

3. Discuss How You’ve Had to Persuade Someone in the Past

This will show a candidates ability to see perspectives other than their own.

If someone is good at persuasion, it means they can easily adjust their point of view to something entirely different. This allows them to understand and empathize with others more easily.

If a candidate can give a good example of using persuasion, it shows that they are empathetic, good at listening, and good communicators.

These are all important soft skills for an employee to have in any job.

4. Talk About Your Biggest Professional Mistake

This question is similar to the commonly asked, “what is your biggest weakness?” interview topic.

However, putting it in a situational format will allow for the interviewer to get a specific example of when the candidate made a mistake, and how they responded to it.

The applicant’s answer will show their willingness to own up to mistakes, how they reflect on their mistakes, and what they did to ensure it was a one-time occurance.

5. Describe a Situation Where You Were Criticized By a Client

This question is posed so the interviewer can get an idea of the candidates emotional maturity.

If the candidate seems willing and open to criticism, especially from a difficult client, then they would demonstrate maturity, adaptability, and professionalism.

Be sure the candidate does not take their criticisms personally, otherwise they may be difficult to manage.

6. Describe a Situation Where You Took a Leadership Role

This interview question will help gauge how much initiative the candidate is willing to take. Ideally, you’ll want people who are willing to go the extra mile for your company.

If they have trouble coming up with a time they were a leader, they may not be someone who steps up when things get tough.

Good applicants will be able to provide an example of how they took control of a situation when work becomes more challenging.

7. Discuss How You’ve Reacted to Joining an Unknown Team or Work Environment

This is another interview question that will show the candidates ability to adapt to unfamiliar situations.

This is an extremely important trait to have, because often times things will not go as expected, and you’ll need employees who can pivot to a new environment easily.

If the applicant is able to mold themselves to different situations, then they would be a great asset to your business.

8. Describe What You Would Do If Given Tasks Outside of Your Job Description

This is a good way to see if an applicant is willing to go above and beyond for your company.

It will demonstrate how hardworking a candidate is, and how much effort they put into their job.

If they are hesitant to take on extra tasks, it may show that the applicant is lazy or stubborn, and not a team player.

For Additional Help

The hiring process is a difficult and extremely important aspect of any business’s survival.

If you are having trouble finding the best candidates for positions in your company, don’t hesitate to reach out.

We are experts with many years of experience in finding the optimal job applicants for all types of businesses.

Please contact us for more information on finding the ideal job candidates for your company.