What are Scenario Questions in an Interview? (With Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 25 October 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Interviewers often ask job candidates how they might address a hypothetical workplace scenario. If a candidate's response can demonstrate they have the right qualifications for a role and a compatible work style, they may impress a hiring manager and increase their chances of receiving a job offer. By reviewing some examples of situation-based questions, you can better prepare high-quality responses during your next interview session. In this article, we explain why interviewers ask these types of questions, provide seven types of scenario questions and include some helpful tips for answering them.

Why do interviewers ask scenario questions?

Interviewers ask scenario questions to learn more information about how a job candidate might perform the responsibilities of a position. By reviewing your response, they can better determine if you have the necessary skill set for the role, helping them visualise you as a team member in their department. Interviewers can also learn whether your personality traits might fit into a team's dynamic and if your work style can align with a company's culture.

Related: 4 Situational Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

7 examples of scenario interview questions based on skills

Consider the following seven skills and some scenario-based questions an interviewer might ask to assess them:

1. Collaboration

Collaboration is an important skill for any candidate working in a group environment, as it allows you to both share your ideas openly and accept alternative viewpoints. By asking scenario-based questions on collaboration, interviewers can discover how you might approach a work project with a team. These questions can also indicate your role as a collaborator, like whether you prefer to mediate conversations between colleagues. Hiring managers may use this information to determine whether your collaboration style can best help a department succeed.

Here are some examples of scenario-based interview questions about collaboration:

  • How would you help encourage team members who felt insecure about completing a project?

  • Explain how you might resolve a workflow issue with your team.

  • How would you handle a situation where a team member completed only part of the work assigned to them on a project?

  • What strategies would you use to approach a team member with an alternative perspective on your shared assignment?

Related: Collaboration Skills: Definition and How to Improve Them

2. Problem-solving

Problem-solving skills can help you determine high-quality solutions for any issue using available resources. Interviewers often ask about your problem-solving skills to learn how you might handle an unanticipated situation or workplace conflict. By listening to your response on a problem-solving scenario, they can better observe how you apply logic to a thought process and your ability to brainstorm new, thoughtful ideas. Hiring managers may use this information to determine whether you can address situations both quickly and effectively.

Consider the following examples of scenario-based interview questions about problem-solving skills:

  • Explain the steps you might take to resolve an unexpected and complex situation at a workplace, and why you feel they're useful.

  • How might you handle a situation that appears unsolvable?

  • If you encountered an entirely new situation at work, how might you decide to approach it?

  • What steps would you take to identify potential issues before they arise?

3. Critical thinking

Critical thinking involves understanding the connections between separate pieces of information and using them to develop a well-informed perspective. By asking a scenario-based question about your capacity for critical thinking, an interviewer can learn if you're able to innovate new ideas and identify logic errors. These questions can also demonstrate your ability to assess a situation objectively, meaning you can focus on any facts involved to uncover a solution. Hiring managers often use this information to discover how you might approach a challenging assignment or address a complex situation.

Here are examples of scenario-based questions about critical thinking skills:

  • How would you plan each step of a project, knowing you have only a week to meet the deadline?

  • Imagine you discover an error a colleague or supervisor made in a critical report. How would you best address the issue?

  • Consider a situation where you identify a new, cost-effective solution to a workflow issue. How might you incorporate this idea into your project steps?

  • If you require more information to complete an assignment, what steps would you take to gain that knowledge?

Related: Interview Question: "What Can You Contribute To the Company?"

4. Communication

When working in a job position, it's often important to understand how to convey information clearly to key stakeholders. By asking scenario-based questions about how you interact with individuals in different workplace contexts, an interviewer can observe your communication style, including how you develop relationships at work. These questions can also offer valuable insight into your strategies for handling workplace disputes with supervisors, coworkers or clients. Hiring managers can use this information to determine whether your methods align with a company's overall culture.

Consider the following examples of scenario-based questions about communication skills:

  • Explain how you would describe a complex situation to a client who has very little information about your field.

  • How would you handle a miscommunication over email with a supervisor? How about a client or a colleague?

  • Imagine a colleague approaches you with a new idea that veers away from the parameters of your shared assignment. How might you encourage them to understand your point of view?

  • How would you convey unexpected or unsettling news to a colleague or client?

5. Decision-making

Depending on the job position, you might make a series of critical decisions on a day-to-day basis. As each company may use different decision-making strategies, an interviewer may ask scenario-based questions to learn whether your approach is compatible. For instance, if an organisation requires professionals to ask supervisors for advice before taking action, they may observe whether you include this step in a hypothetical plan. Hiring managers can also use your response to see if you can make select your options both efficiently and independently.

Here are some examples of scenario-based questions about decision-making skills:

  • Imagine that a supervisor asks you to plan the steps of a long-term project. What does your decision-making process look like?

  • If a colleague voices an alternative solution to your own, how might you approach deciding between the two options?

  • Consider a situation where your supervisor asks for your input on a current recruitment process. What strategies would you use to help a department select a new team member?

  • How would you respond if your previous ideas had unexpected results? How would you approach a new decision-making process?

Related: 13 Competency-Based Interview Questions and How To Prepare

6. Organisation

Companies often value job candidates who can organise their schedules and prioritise tasks, as they're often able to work efficiently and achieve high-quality results. By asking scenario-based questions about your organisation skills, an interviewer can learn more information about how you plan timelines and structure a typical workday. Answering these questions can also reveal your capacity to re-organise a plan if unexpected situations arise. Hiring managers may use your response to better understand your approach to making deadlines on time.

Consider the following examples of scenario-based questions on organisation skills:

  • Imagine a supervisor assigns you a report to complete and asks you to submit it by the end of the next workday. How might you prioritise the required tasks to complete the report on time?

  • Consider a project that's falling behind schedule by three days. How might you approach re-doing the process steps?

  • How would you implement unexpected changes to a project's scope?

  • If a company warehouse continuously misplaced inventory items, what organisation advice would you offer them?

7. Leadership

Strong leadership skills can allow you to both advance in your career and enhance any work environment. If you're applying for a supervisory position, interviewers may ask a scenario question to discover your leadership style, meaning how you motivate team members, delegate tasks or handle disagreements. These questions may also address your self-confidence and self-motivation techniques, which are both critical aspects of leadership. Hiring managers may use this information to decide whether your style can align with a company's management approach and mission statement.

Here are some examples of scenario-based questions about leadership skills:

  • Imagine you're planning the criteria for a long-term project. How might you decide which tasks to assign to your team members?

  • How would you respond to a team member who offers critical feedback on your leadership style?

  • Describe some ways you might respond to a staff member who voices insecurities about their job performance.

  • How would you handle a dispute in your department on project parameters?

Tips for answering scenario-based interview questions

Here are some tips to help you answer scenario-based interview questions:

  • Identify the skill mentioned in the question. Before forming a response, determine which skill the interviewer is targeting in their inquiry. This approach can help you develop a relevant and insightful answer that helps the interviewer make a hiring decision.

  • Provide examples from your work history. When answering a question about a hypothetical situation, it's often helpful to offer a relevant event from your own work history. As a result, you can better support your response and increase your overall credibility.

  • Use the STAR interviewing method. This technique involves separating your response into four sections, including the hypothetical situation, the problem it poses, the actions you might take and the results you hope to achieve. It can help you structure your response in a logical way.

Explore more articles