Having to attend a job interview can be nerve-wracking no matter how confident you are that you’re the perfect candidate.
Preparing for the interview beforehand can help calm the nerves, and even though you never really know what you will be asked, there are some common questions that you will most likely have to answer.
According to South Africa’s popular job search website, Indeed, an employer will probably ask you situational questions. These questions help the hiring manager gain crucial insight into how you react in specific circumstances on the job.
The questions allow you to use your responses to demonstrate how you will overcome specific obstacles and help the company meet its objectives.
Indeed has compiled the following situational interview questions with sample answers that will help you respond perfectly during your job interview.
1. What would you do if you made a mistake that no one else noticed? Would you address the error and risk slowing things down or ignore it to keep the project or task moving forward?
Employers may ask this question (or something similar) to assess your integrity and determine whether your ethics and beliefs align with the company. Consider using your response as an opportunity to share your commitment to honesty and quality work.
Example: “I’ve always found it’s better to take responsibility for your mistakes—and work to correct them—to learn from your errors. When I worked as a barista, a customer asked for a soy latte and I accidentally made their drink using whole milk. While there’s a chance they may never have known, I knew my error could affect their experience. I promptly told my manager, remade the drink and apologized to the customer for the wait. The customer was satisfied, and my manager thanked me for doing the right thing. From that point forward, I paid special attention to drink ingredients.”
2. What would you do if you were asked to perform a task you’ve never done before?
When you’re new to a position, your manager may ask you to complete duties beyond your level of experience. Employers ask this question to understand how you leverage your problem-solving skills to learn how to do something new. Your response should detail your methods for developing a new skill.
Example: “In my last role as a marketing coordinator, my manager asked me to build and launch a digital ad campaign, which was something I’d never done before. I explained to my manager that I had no experience leading that type of project, but volunteered to do all of the work if someone more experienced could offer guidance. I met with several employees who had experience running digital ads, studied best practices and successfully launched the campaign. Thanks to that hands-on learning experience, I became the team expert on digital advertising.”
3. Tell me about a time when you failed. How did you deal with this experience?
Employers use this question to assess your ability to overcome pitfalls, recover from defeat and learn from your errors. You can use your response to demonstrate your flexibility and share an example of how you transformed a negative experience into a positive outcome.
Example: “In my first month as an account manager, I wanted to impress a top client and over-promised on a project timeline. Unfortunately, the team didn’t have the resources to deliver by the deadline I’d promised, and we ended up losing the client. I reached out to the client and took full responsibility for the loss, and they decided to give us another chance. Because of this experience, I learned the value of setting realistic expectations and never guaranteeing more than I could deliver.”
4. What would you do if an angry and dissatisfied customer confronted you? How would you resolve their concern?
Employers ask this question to determine whether you have conflict-resolution and communication skills required for the role. Use your response to share your ability to be empathetic and address unexpected challenges.
Example: “When I worked as a receptionist for an auto mechanic, I answered a call from a customer who was angry their vehicle wasn’t finished. I listened to the customer’s concerns and used phrases like, ‘I completely understand your frustration.’ Then, I took down their information and promised to call them back. I found the technician who’d been working on their car and learned the problem was worse than anticipated and would take several days to fix. I coordinated a loaner vehicle for the customer, and then called them back. Not only were they appreciative of my help, but they also publicly thanked us on social media.”
Being able to provide real-life examples when answering situational questions will show the employer that you can overcome any challenges thrown your way.
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