Excelling at a Situational Interview

Nancy Anderson
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A situational interview delves into your psyche and how you handle various situations on the job. These types of questions are also called behavioral questions because they do not have right or wrong answers; they simply gauge your personality and if you're a perfect fit for the job. Discover some tips and tricks to excel at this type of interview during your job search.

Identify Real-Life Achievements

Employers love results that they can verify. Identify real-life achievements that defined your career to this point, such as helping an employer achieve greater growth, winning an award or solving a huge problem. That's because a situational interview focuses on your specific experiences versus anyone else's, and your results make you stand out from the crowd.

Remember CPR

Every answer you give should have CPR within it. Answers are clear, purposeful and relevant to the job at hand. In other words, your answers are easy to follow, have a clearly defined intention and are directly tied to the position.

Learn STAR

STAR stands for situation, task, action and result. Every situational interview answer you give should follow this format. Give the situation that you found yourself in, say what tasks you employed to solve a particular dilemma, note what action you took and then show the result of your efforts.

Talk About Your Thought Process

Somewhere in your answer, you should mention your thought process in a clear and concise manner. When you talk about a situation and then the actions you took, explain why you did things in a certain way. This gives interviewers an insight into your thought process.

Research and Rehearse

Research the sector or industry in which you are applying for a job, and then practice your responses for a situational interview. Different industries use various tactics for behavioral questions, so research them online or get to know someone at your chosen employer and see if that person can offer ideas as to what to focus on when it comes to answers. Pick a good practice partner to serve as an interviewer.

Write Down Answers

As you rehearse your answers to a situational interview, write them down. This helps you remember responses to common questions. Memorizing answers isn't enough, though. Make sure your answers come across as sounding as a natural conversation rather than someone who is just spouting off facts.

Stay Positive

Companies delve into how you responded to negative situations in your career. Turn negatives into positives by stating the lessons you learned and how you improved your mindset. Employers look for resiliency and how people overcome mistakes as an important soft skill.

Understand Self-Awareness

Be aware of who you are and why you do things. This makes you appear genuine, honest and authentic when you answer questions during a situational interview. Take a few moments to imagine yourself in a situation, talk about how you would handle it and answer in your own unique way. Employers don't want to hear cookie-cutter responses; they want to see the real you.

Think of a situational interview as a way to see inside your mind because companies need to understand how you react under hypothetical, real-world pressure. Knowing what to expect during this stage of your job search can land you a dream job sooner rather than later.


Photo courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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  • Gill T.
    Gill T.

    All jobs require you to adjust to the situations as they occur

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