The worst case scenario for recruiters occurs when they go through the process of interviewing a candidate, researching the candidate’s background, hiring the candidate, training the candidate and finding out that the person just doesn’t have what it takes to meet the company’s needs. Hiring a new employee is a timely process and can be very costly.
The scenario interview is designed so that the recruiter can better understand the candidate’s qualifications for the position. The scenario interview is very similar to the behavioral interview in which he candidate is asked questions in a story format.
Because some people are very good at interviewing, but may not be all that good once hired, or because some people may not be good at interviewing, but would be excellent employees, scenario interviews are used to try to get as close to real-life work as possible. When the interviewer creates the scenario questions for the interview, it is usually based upon situations that can happen at the company.
Following are examples of questions that could be asked in a scenario interview:
- You are in a meeting with a client. Your supervisor promises that you will meet a deliverable in two weeks, but you are pretty sure it’s going to take three. How would you handle it in the meeting? What would you say when talking with your supervisor later?
- You go out for lunch and see a co-worker having a great time with her friends and you know for a fact that she called in sick that morning. What do you do?
- Assume you are the manager and you have an employee who has been late 3 times in the past week and just called in for the 5th time this month. What would you say to this employee on the phone? How would you handle this situation once she’s back?
Similar to behavioral interviews, the recruiter may ask you questions about your past experiences. Questions could include something like:
- Name a time when you had too much to do and knew you couldn’t get it all done. What did you do about it? How did you approach your supervisor?
- Tell me about a time when you had to spearhead a project. Explain the first steps you took and why you took them in the order you did.
- Describe a time when you handled a customer service complaint by passing the contact along to your supervisor. What made you determine that you could no longer handle that customer on your own?
Although it’s rare, there is a possibility that you could be asked to engage in some type of role-playing activity based upon real-life scenarios that could occur on the job. This would happen if the recruiter really wants to see you in action prior to extending an offer. For example, if you are applying for a sales position, you may be asked to take an inbound customer service call and help explain the up sell options to the customer.
How to Answer
It is recommended that if you have past experience related to the question, that you answer using that past experience. You can follow these steps to answer the question in a clear, succinct manner:
- Summarize what happened.
- Describe what action you took.
- Explain what happened afterwards.
If you don’t have a past example that is easily relatable to the question, remember that the recruiter is trying to test your judgment and determine how you make decisions. Summarize the question, what you think your options would be and what you think the best possible choice is.
Although you want to give the recruiter a lot of information, it’s best to keep your answers as concise as possible. Long-winded answers may show that you don’t know how to communicate effectively and get your point across.
Always be truthful. Remember, most facts can be verified. If you try to make something up, it’s easy for a recruiter to ask follow-up questions and catch you giving conflicting information.
Review the job description well. Look at what might be emphasized in terms of the desired skills and abilities.
Write out your own experience and skills as they relate to the skills and abilities in the job description. You’ll want to have some examples ready that show how you handled difficult situations, achieved a major milestone, worked with a difficult co-worker, or overcame obstacles.
In a situational interview, there may be no right or wrong answers. Recruiters may rank your answers against other applicants, so it’s important to make sure that you do your best to communicate well.
If you don’t have a specific example from your own past, recruiters will be looking at how you process the question and come up with an answer. Even if you give an answer that is not what the recruiter would consider the best answer, showing that you can review the question and mentally solve the problem is almost as important as the answer itself.
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List of the different interview types:
- The Video Interview
- The Informal Interview
- The Technical Interview
- The Phone Interview
- The Structured Interview
- The Scenario Interview
- The Assessment Event
- The Second Interview
- The Panel Interview
- The Lunch Interview
- The Group Interview
- The Behavioral Interview