Scenario Interview Questions and Answers

Good Scenario Interview Questions and AnswersScenario Interview Questions also relate to behavioural interviews or competency-based interviews and are becoming a widely used technique. The main premise is that evidence of past performance acts as a likely indicator of future performance. The methodology is to ask interview scenario questions to assess how candidates have applied skills, made decisions and used work experiences to solve problems and react to different situations, all against pre-determined HR interview selection criteria. Core elements regarding scenario based interview questions to make valid assessments include:


  • Making an assessment of overall candidate suitability for the role
  • Evaluating required skills, competencies and personal qualities
  • Giving evidence of past performance through different examples
  • Understanding scenario interview questions and structuring answers
  • Following the assessment process – from the interviewer perspective
  • Essential preparation and research – from the candidate perspective

Assessing Overall Candidate Suitability

Scenario interview questions are widely used to assess candidate suitability against set criteria, whilst remaining objective by asking all candidates the same interview scenario questions and scoring them against competency drivers. Such competency drivers may include the ability to perform well in the role, strong motivations to succeed, ability to fit in, manageability, teamworking, communication, going the extra mile and long-term development (potential). The list can be tailored to different recruitment needs, assessment criteria and candidate profiles to get the best person for the role.

Skills, Competencies and Qualities Evaluation

There is a massive opportunity for candidates to shine at interview by giving credible, relevant and detailed examples of how they have applied certain skills to different scenarios. For example, candidates may ask when they have had to communicate effectively – this could be presenting technical information or engaging with senior management. For executives and senior managers, the required level of competency for each skill will be much higher. Interview scenario questions are given by the interviewer, with further clarification, interrogation and questions to follow to test the credibility of each example and delve deeper into motivations, decision-making rationale and outcomes. Each candidate will be asked exactly the same questions to ensure consistency, objectivity and fairness throughout the whole process.

Evidence of Past Performance Using Examples

Preparing for scenario interview questions with the aim of showing how evidence of past performance to gauge likely success (future performance) in the role. This is where effective preparation comes in for candidates to show clear examples of how they have applied skills and been successful in a previous role. This format also enables interviewers to establish the level of experience, what the candidate has done, skills competency levels and any outstanding achievements. Another technique is to ask candidates about how they would approach certain hypothetical situations to evaluate decision-making processes and the ability to find solutions.

Scenario Interview Questions and Answers

There are several ways to answering interview scenario questions, though we advocate a simple structured approach using four main elements.

  1. State Example: Place example into context by clearly outlining scenario or situation
  2. State Relevance: Provide rationale for example by explaining and why it is relevant
  3. Problem-Solving: Discuss how problem was solved by applying skills and experience
  4. Outcomes: Mention clear outcomes (results), achievements and anything learnt from scenario.

From the Interviewer’s Perspective

Interviewers are looking for credible, well-structured and clear examples of why candidates made a decision or how they influenced a situation. Many candidates do not prepare fully or test examples, so they stand-up to scrutiny when asked at interview. Good candidates will have 5 or 6 robust examples to apply to different scenario interview questions and answers. Good candidates will also listen to the whole question, think about what is being asked, structure answers effectively and back examples up with evidence of achievement. Some common interview questions and answers employers are likely to ask.

From the Candidate Perspective

Expectations from employers require candidates to prepare fully for interviews otherwise it could just be a waste of time. Candidates need to really think through different work scenarios, identify core strengths and what they have achieved in previous roles. List good examples, consider how they can be adapted to different interview question scenarios and develop coherent answers backed-up by facts (evidence of suitability). Being fearful of behavioural interviews is either down to a state of mind (positive thinking please!), a lack of preparation or a lack of experience. Interviewers are only people (they get nervous too), so remember to give it the best shot and be confident.

Scenario Interview Questions – Conclusion

Most people fear scenario interview questions or behavioural interviews. This is partly down to a lack of experience, being fearful and not going to interviews with a positive mindset. One way of removing uncertainty, building confidence and performing better is doing thorough preparation and following the simple methodology. It is not rocket science and once candidates understand what is required, then it becomes so much easier. Our mantra is preparation, research and more preparation: Put simply, why fail at the final interview hurdle when candidates have worked hard to secure an interview opportunity.