Understanding situational questions

Published On: September 13, 2016 10:12 AM NPT By: Rajiv Sharma

KATHMANDU, Sept 13: Interviews are a common platform to judge a candidate. It is tough to really know the future performance of a candidate just from a single interview. But organizations have no better alternatives to interviews.

Realizing that candidates often fabricate their answers, interviewers have started asking situational questions. These are questions designed to uncover candidates in interviews. 

Situational questions help to disclose characteristics, attitude, creativity and spontaneity of the candidate. All of these are essential qualities of a successful employee. Rather than knowing how to answer situational questions, we have to understand why organizations ask situational questions.

Here are some tricky situational questions and their relevance to your employers.

A candidate went for an interview.  There were other candidates as well. All of them had to wait for a long period of time. The candidates enquired how long they have to wait. A person from the company told them that she has no idea. After the response some of the candidates started leaving. However, those who waited were offered the job.   

Some multinational companies have used this technique to test the patience of shortlisted candidates. Even some of the Nepali organizations have used this technique to assess candidate’s seriousness towards the job. It helps organization to at least predict the stability of a candidate. 

You are an HR executive. One of the cleaning staffs comes to you and rudely says that she has been working with the organization for more than a year and wants a salary increment. After reviewing her contract you notice that she is not eligible for a raise until next year. After communicating contractual clause, she says that she would not come to work from tomorrow. What would you do in this situation? 

Many management graduates aspire to work in the field of HR. But most of them fail to answer the above question. Many of them manage to say that they will let the person go while respecting the contract clause. However, you are posed with another question: “If she doesn’t come from next day your whole office cleanness will be hampered where you will be responsible, what would you do then?” Many don’t have an answer to that. This question helps to assess the convincing ability of a candidate. 

You are applying for the post of Administrative Officer. Can you tell me who takes care of your clothes?

Often when this is asked to married men, they proudly say that my wife takes care of it. If you are eying to work in the administration department, companies expect you to take care of lots of things. It is usually noticed that candidates who are dependent on their wives haven’t justified their role in the administration. 

You are working on an important task. Suddenly you got a call from your supervisor assigning you the new job that has immediate deadline. After a few minutes you got a call from your department head assigning you a task, which also has an immediate deadline.

What would you do? 
Candidates are immediately taken aback by the question. Several have answered by saying that they will first work on their immediate supervisor’s task. However, they fail to recognize the ego of the department head if the task is not completed on time. The question is designed to test your initiation of communication. Similarly, it also helps the organization to assess how you prioritize tasks at the workplace. 

There are many situational interview questions in the world of web. Keep tabs on those questions. Even though you will never know what the interviewer will ask, always try to understand the question. Many interviewees listen to the question and immediately respond before understanding the question clearly first. If we understand the question, we can answer it tactfully. 

The author is associated with Jobs Dynamics Pvt. Ltd., an organization driven towards providing the widest range of job solutions to people looking for work in Nepal. He can be reached at rajiv@jobsdynamics.com.

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