Ace these Situational Interview Questions

Interview Tips

1. Tell me about a time you exceeded expectations.

  • Use the STAR approach to answer this kind of question: Situation, Task, Action, Result.
  • Start by talking about the environment and the expectations placed upon you. Then, talk about how you decided to beat those expectations. What pushed you to action? Was it your natural desire to excel, or was there a deeper business need?
  • Tell the interviewer how you went about going the extra mile. Finally, give details of the outcome. Did you increase profits? Make a customer happy? What was the benefit of your effort?

2. Tell me about a time you upheld company values.

  • If you aren’t sure of the values of your old employers, “providing an excellent customer experience” is a safe bet. This is a core value of all commercial enterprises.
  • Talk about a time when you felt that value was in danger (for example, a customer was having a bad experience). How did you identify the problem?
  • Next, talk about what action you took and what the outcome was. How did your work help to maintain those company values?

3. Tell me about a time you faced a tricky moral dilemma.

  • Interviewers want to know about your ethical thinking, so it’s not important if you answer this question with a work-related example.
  • What is important is to show that you can see right and wrong decisions without someone telling you. How did you know that this was a moral dilemma? When did you realize that you would have to make a difficult choice?
  • Talk the interviewer through the process of how you made your ultimate decision. Remember, the interviewer wants to know that you can always be trusted to do the right thing.

4. Give me an example of when you’ve had to deal with failure.

  • It’s fine to talk about failure as long as you’ve learned something from the experience. Don’t say that you’ve never failed — it just suggests that you don’t know how to deal with adversity.
  • Focus on how you got past the failure, what you learned and how it has made you a better person.
  • When talking about failure, never blame anyone else, such as your former colleagues. It reflects badly on you. Instead, focus on what you could have done differently.

5. Give me an example of when you had to work extra hard to communicate with someone.

  • Communication is the single most important skill in any job. If you get a chance to show off your communication skills, take it.
  • You’ve almost certainly had communication issues before, whether it was due to a language barrier or you were dealing with someone who didn’t get your point. How did you solve that problem?
  • Examples in a professional context are great. Have you ever had to give a big presentation or deliver bad news to a customer? How did you achieve a positive outcome in that situation.

6. You’ve never worked for a company like this before. How will you adapt?

  • Even if you’re making a huge career leap, you still have transferable skills that can be used anywhere.
  • Your ability to communicate, your problem-solving abilities, your teamwork, your sense of ethics, even your punctuality — all of these things can help you succeed in any environment. Tell stories that demonstrate these qualities and how you’ve applied them in other environments.
  • If you have experience of adapting to a new environment, talk about that and share details of how you succeeded.