A scenario-based question will usually be based on something that could typically happen in the role you are being interviewed for so that the interviewer can assess how you would react to and deal with a particular situation. They could be considering things like how well you work under pressure, how you analyse situations, whether you can prioritise and delegate if appropriate and that overall you can think creatively and suggest a sensible approach to dealing with the situation.
The way you answer questions based on this are very important. Employers are likely to use it to differentiate you from other candidates. They will want to know more about your career goals and ambitions and what motivates you to want to work for them. Preparing answers to these kinds of questions in advance will show the employer that you have done research into the role and the company and know what you are letting yourself in for.
Questions could be based on why you want to work for them; what you think the role would involve; where you see yourself in the future e.g. 5 year’s time. It’s a good idea to address professional future plans rather than personal ones and to come across as ambitious but realistic. Do some research in advance into more senior staff if possible (e.g. staff profiles, LinkedIn) to see how long it took them to progress within the organisation and how so that your response is comparative. Talk in terms of achievement and responsibility rather than any financial reward or perks that would come with progression. Demonstrate that you are keen to make a difference and willing to be flexible.
Sometimes employers will throw in a curve ball question, which may or may not be related to the job you’re being interviewed for. The reason for the question is likely to be to get an insight into how you tick by seeing how you react to the unexpected and deal with that under pressure. They may also be looking for creative thinking. You may have heard of some questions used by employers in the past such as ‘what biscuit best represents you and why?’ or ‘if you had a superpower, what would it be and why?’ These are less common now, but you may get questions more like:
- how many golf balls could you fit in a Mini?
- how much does a Boeing 747 weigh?
- if the time is 11:50, what is the angle between the hands?
- what do you think about when you’re alone?
Your interviewer won’t necessarily be looking for a right answer to these questions, they will be interested in the thought process you use to reach your conclusion, or to find out more about you and your potential fit to the role and the organisation. While it’s not possible to prepare, and not all employers will ask something like this, be on alert and try not to panic and blurt out the first thing that comes into your head. Instead, be calm, take a moment to think and give the most reasonable response that you can, making sure it reflects positively on you, and if possible, frames you as a suitable candidate for the role.