How To Answer The ‘Situational’ Question!

Any professional interviewer will ask you about what you did in a particular situation. Normally the question would start; 'Tell me about a time...' or 'How would you describe a situation...'.

The purpose of this question is two folds. One to understand your thought process and secondly to understand how you behaved in a particular situation.  Here are five steps you can take to encounter these type of questions.


Never, never, never enter an interview situation where you have not prepared and practiced your pitch. Remember you only get ONE chance to make the right impression. You must get it right the first time.

The situation

This is the hardest part of this exercise as it requires a walk down memory lane. Think of a situation where you were either leading a team, working on a challenging project or any other scenario that involved profit & loss (P&L), people, budgets, scope of work, customer service scenario, impossible deadline, … It is much easier to paint a picture using numbers (facts & figures). Once you have the situation make sure you write it down on paper as that will help you rehearse and practice the actual interview delivery. 

The challenges

Once you are confident with the situation, start thinking of the challenges you faced while overcoming that situation. Did you overcome the challenges yourself or was it a team effort? What strategy did you apply? Keep in mind that this is YOUR story and YOU are the HERO of this story. Therefore I needs to be structured around yourself.


Job interviews can be nerve wrecking. You don’t know who you are going to meet and what questions are going to be asked. Plus you only get ONE chance.

The actions

How did you come out victorious?  What actions did you take? Try using words like directed, persuaded, inspired, guided, … If this situation involved a team than what action did you take to guide the team out of this challenge? This is where writing everything down will help you put the structure to your story. Don’t just use your brain power and imagination. 

The outcome

What were the end results? This is where you can use dimension like size & value. If this was a budgetary situation than how much money did the company save because of your actions?  

The position

This is the most important part of this entire exercise. After you have put all the pieces of puzzle together, step back and see how your story fits the position you are applying for? So for example if you are applying for an HR Manager position, does the fact that you managed a team of 5 people, managed a AEDX budget, reduced time of hire by X number of hours, introduced innovations in your process due to which the company was able to save AEDX, fit with the role?

Final thoughts

Having a successful interview requires planning and preparation. The efforts you put into your planning and preparation will determine you confidence when you walk in to the interview room. So don’t rush through the process since you only get one chance to impress the interviewer.  If you need tips about resume writing, here are some helpful articles. All the best!

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