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How to answer scenario interview questions

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There are a many different types of questions that can be asked at an interview, from traditional questions such as: ‘Why did you apply for this job?’ to behavioural questions such as: ‘Can you give me an example of a time you have worked effectively in a team?’

Sometimes you may be asked scenario questions, which are similar to behavioural questions. However instead of asking you to discuss a past experience you’re presented with a hypothetical situation. An example of this type of question is: ‘What would you do if you were dealing with a difficult telephone conversation with a client/customer?’

Watch the video below as Careers Adviser, Suzanne Ball, explains the best way to deal with scenario interview questions.

What counts as ‘conflicting priorities’ and how do I answer that question?

Often, in applications and at interview you get asked this question – ‘How have you dealt with conflicting priorities?’ or a variation of this question. But what does the employer want to hear?

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The question is designed to test your organisational and prioritising abilities – how do you problem solve or deal with demanding deadlines? The employer seeks for you to demonstrate strategic thinking and your ability to understand business objectives, in relation to your own, which should inform how you organise yourself.

Before you can answer this question – think of an example. An easy one is you’re working part time whilst studying. Your manager asks you to come in and do extra work but you also have an important upcoming assessment deadline. You want to facilitate a positive relationships with your manager but simultaneously your degree is extremely  important too.How do you deal with such conflicting priorities?

The answer will of course be your own. You could walk the employer through your thinking and logic when making decisions. It could be that you explain that education is important but your work ethic means a lot to you so you come in to do the extra hours but you then time manage effectively and spend time in the library to complete your assessment to a high standard. I sadly can’t answer the question for you – you’d have to think of an example for yourself.

The key in answering this question is explaining effectively your thinking process behind your actions. For example, some people refer to The Eisenhower Decision Matrix, as below

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Overall, there is no right or wrong answer. All the employer wants to hear from you is a clear explanation of how you deal with pressure/a deadline. As a student, there will be countless examples of conflicting deadlines you’ve faced. Always make sure you walk them through your rationale and thinking of dealing with such situations. The end result for them is to be satisfied that you will be able to withstand pressure and it’s something you’ve dealt with before. The employer wants to be confident that you can work independently and self-manage – so simply assure them of it, using excellent communication skills (whether in an interview or an application) and an appropriate example.

Finally, always talk about the result. So if we come back to my work vs university example – a good way to finish that answer is ‘I achieved a good grade for that assignment, whilst submitting it on time. I also did 6 hours extra work that weekend and my manager was very pleased with the service I delivered’. You therefore demonstrate that your excellent strategic logical thinking lead to a positive outcome. How can an employer resist such a high calibre candidate?

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Kristina Tamane is the Careers Adviser for the School of Life and Medical Sciences and the Joint Honours Programme. You’re welcome to follow her on Twitter or Pinterest for varied job posts and general advice and updates.

How to answer common interview question: ‘when have you worked well in a team?’

How to answer the interview question ‘do you have any questions for us?’

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You are in a face to face interview with an employer for the job you really want. You feel that the interview has been going very well and you have answered all the questions to the best of your ability. You have remembered to back up all your answers with evidence and an evaluation.

It comes to the end of the interview and the employer tells you that you have answered all the questions. The employer then says: ‘do you have any questions for us?’

What do you say? Do you say you have no questions? Do you ask about the salary? Watch the video below as Careers, Employment and Enterprise Adviser, Suzanne Ball, explains the best way to deal with this common interview question.

How to deal with with difficult interview questions

Question: ‘How many square feet of pizza are eaten in the UK every year?’

Careers, Employment & Enterprise Adviser, Donald Lush, explains the best way to deal with those ‘curve ball’ questions at an interview.

For more information and other resources on interviews, please search for the keyword ‘Interviews’ under the resources section of CareerHub.

You can book an appointment to speak with an adviser about interviews by calling us on 01707 284791.

That ‘Foot in Mouth’ Interview Moment and How to Survive It

Head in Hands ImageHave you ever had a moment when you wish you could quickly snatch the words you’ve just spoken out of the air and swallow them before they get heard? Most of us have opened our mouths just to put our foot in it and you’re very lucky if you haven’t. It’s even worse when you’re in an interview. If it happens to you here’s how to get passed it…

 

No matter how confident you are of getting a job the likelihood is that you will be nervous when going for an interview. The added pressure of trying to be likeable yet professional, combined with your brain working overtime to recall all the facts and figures you’ve memorised from your research, can lead us to blurt out things we wouldn’t normally. Start asking around and you’ll hear most people have a bad interview story but not everyone will admit to a ‘FIM’ moment, probably because of the embarrassment factor. I quizzed my friends for examples and the overall message was positive; you can overcome it and in some cases use it in your favour.

I was being interviewed by two fairly cool women and we got round to talking about the culture of the company.  They said that there was a high female to male ratio in the office.  Wanting to sound fine with that, I said very loudly “That’s OK, I don’t mind tampons flying around the office!”  There was a bit of an awkward silence and then I think I saw them smile and carry on with the questions.  I managed to keep it together and not say anything else too ridiculous, and I got the job.  After a few months of working there they told me in the pub that they weren’t sure if I’d be able to do the job but that they hired me because they really liked me!  Maybe it was the tampons that sealed the deal….

Unfortunately there’s no rewind or erase button when you say the wrong thing, the answer to getting passed it is your ability to rally; how you can spin the bad into the good. In the example above, my anonymous friend managed not to let what was said affect the rest of the interview. Being calm under pressure is a very marketable skill and showing that you aren’t flustered by your actions can reflect well on you.

If you’re a Friends fan you might remember the one where Chandler interviews for a new job… Read more…

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