Top 50 Situational Interview Questions And Answers (Examples Included)

situational interview questions

By Mike Simpson

UPDATED 6/6/2022

situational interview questions

What would you say if I told you that role-playing sometimes creeps into the interview process? Does that sound outlandish? Well, it isn’t. Thanks to situational interview questions, many candidates find themselves walking through scenarios that they’ve never encountered, hopefully in a way that impresses the hiring manager.

Knowing how to answer situational questions is essential if you want to shine as a candidate. Fortunately, it isn’t as hard as you’d expect. Here’s what you need to know.

Situational vs. Behavioral Interview Questions

Situational interview questions are similar to behavioral questions in several ways. With both types of questions, your answer needs to talk the hiring manager through how you handle a particular incident or issue. In most cases, that means using STAR-style answers.

However, the two do stand apart, too. With behavioral interview questions, you’re asked to relay a past experience and discuss the details of how you handled yourself in that situation. With situational interview questions, you’re presented with a hypothetical situation, requiring you to outline how you think you would act. To quote US News, “In a nutshell, behavioral interview questions deal with the past or present, and situational interview questions deal with the future.”

How do you tell the two questions apart? Well, how they begin is usually a big clue. For example, behavioral interview questions typically start with prompts like, “Tell me about a time you…” With situational questions, they usually start out with something like, “How would you handle..?”

In most cases, hiring managers make it incredibly clear if they want an example from your past or need you to navigate a hypothetical. As a result, you can use how they begin their question as a clue as to how to proceed.

Why Are Situational Interview Questions Asked?

Overall, only about 80 percent of interview questions are predictable. In most cases, situational questions fall into the remaining 20 percent. That’s part of why hiring managers ask situational interview questions; they want to see how you really think, not just how well you recite rehearsed answers.

Whereas traditional questions can have easily memorized answers and behavioral questions rely on experiences you’ve already had, situational questions demand that the interviewee utilize their analytical and problem-solving skills. By giving a job seeker a hypothetical situation, the interviewer wants to see how they will react in the moment and with little preparation.

But how do you get ready if I don’t know what scenario they’ll present? Fortunately, with some helpful tips about situational questions for interviews and the right situational interview question and answer examples, you can develop a strategy for handling these questions. Even if you don’t know exactly what to expect, you’ll know how to approach it, increasing the odds that you’ll impress.

Common Mistakes

As you can imagine, the nature of situational questions means that it can be easy to make mistakes. After all, when you don’t know which scenario is coming down the pipe, it’s hard to ensure you are completely prepared.

You can increase your odds of not tripping up on a situational question by avoiding these common mistakes:

1. Winging It

A lot of job seekers think to themselves, “If I have no idea what the scenario is going to look like, there’s no way that I can prepare for this type of question. So, I’m just going to fly by the seat of my pants and hope I nail it.”

While this is very common, that doesn’t make it a smart move. Instead, practice is always the key.

Later in this article, we will give you some example situational questions. Get a good feel for what makes a good answer, and spend some time crafting your answers to emulate the good examples below.

MIKE'S TIP: Sit down with a colleague of yours and ask them to come up with some situational interview questions that you can practice together. Be sure to adjust the format of the questions, the type of scenario, and the skill or ability that is the focus of the question. When you have finished answering, take a few minutes to discuss the answers together to make sure that your answer is in line with the good responses below.

2. Non-Tailored Responses

If you know anything about the Interview Guys, you know that we always emphasize the importance of tailoring your responses to the specific company and position you are interviewing for (if you aren’t familiar with our Tailoring Method, read our blog article).

Basically, there are certain skills and abilities that every company puts a lot of value in when it comes to the ideal candidate for the position. You basically need to demonstrate that you have these qualities in order to get the job. Infusing these skills and traits into your answer allows you to “tailor” the answer to the company and role.

Answering a situational interview question with a general, non-tailored response is a missed opportunity. Show you have the qualities they’re after within the framework of the situational question, increasing your odds of coming out ahead.

3. Getting Off-Topic

This is the most common mistake that job seekers make, and it makes sense.

Situational interview questions have the potential to make the interviewee nervous because they are harder to anticipate. And nervous people tend to ramble, especially when they don’t immediately know how to answer the question.

Ramblers tend to change the subject and go off on tangents, often not answering the original question. This can be the kiss of death, mainly because the hiring manager wants to see that you can think on your feet and make quick, dynamic decisions.

So, what do you do? Well, you can start by taking a deep breath. The answer usually isn’t as hard to find as you’d expect, so don’t panic.

If you need a second to think, one great way to break the ice and give yourself time is to ask questions. Get more information. Not only will this provide you with time to cool down and prepare your answer, but it will also show the hiring manager that you are a critical thinker that methodically gathers details to make the correct decision.

How to Answer Situational Interview Questions

Preparing for situational questions should be just like preparing for any other type of question that might be thrown at you during an interview…through practice! As you read these example questions, don’t just figure out how you would answer them; dig deep through your own work history and see if you’ve already encountered similar situations.

If you have, take a hard look and really analyze them. Look for problems you encountered and how you solved them, as well as what you learned from the situation overall.

Being asked a situational question and having to come up with an answer on the fly can be intimidating to someone who hasn’t taken the time to practice their own answers. But for someone who has spent some time going through their past and analyzing potential problems and scenarios, it’s not just a snap; it might just even be fun!

3 Situational Interview Questions and Answers

1. If you made a mistake and no one noticed, what would you do?


“Generally, I find that it’s best to own up to any missteps immediately, even if they go unnoticed. That allows me to correct the issue before it potentially becomes a problem.

“The type of error would impact how I proceed. If it’s something I can correct on my own, then I would do so right away. If the misstep impacts others, I would inform my manager of the situation, ensuring I could get their support as I work to correct it. Ultimately, whichever path allows me to do the right thing promptly with minimal disruption to the team is the option I’ll use.”

2. Imagine you’re working on a project with a tight deadline and a team member is behind schedule with a critical deliverable you need to move forward. What would you do?


“First, I would reach out and touch base with my colleague. It’s possible it’s a simple oversight or a technical error like a message stuck in an email outbox. They may also be dealing with a crisis that caused a delay.

“In any case, my goal is to gather information, not be accusatory. I would learn more about the situation, then work with them to find a resolution. For instance, if a high-priority emergent task prevented them from handling the project-related work, I’d see if I could provide assistance with either of the responsibilities.

“If it simply fell off of their radar, I’d ask if they could complete the work in a timely fashion, such as one or two days. Then, I’d prepare to follow up after that amount of time passes, suggesting I didn’t hear back from them beforehand.”

3. If you were asked to take on a task you haven’t done before, how would you go about it?


“If I need to take on a new task, my first step is to clarify any expectations. That gives me an idea of where various priorities lie and what’s needed as far as an outcome.

“Next, I determine what resources are available to ensure I handle the responsibility correctly. Is there a knowledge library or an on-demand training course? Do I have a colleague who’s done this in the past that can offer guidance? What support is available from my manager? Is there research I can conduct independently to fill in any gaps?

“As I gather information from various sources, I can typically find a path for success. I just use a metered approach at that point, checking my work for errors and requesting feedback at appropriate intervals, ensuring I’m able to meet – if not exceed – expectations.”

47 More Situational Questions for Interviews

Here are 47 more situational interview questions.

    1. If you didn’t agree with a decision your manager made, what would you do?
    2. Imagine you’re working on a project, and you and a colleague disagree about how to proceed. How would you handle it?
    3. If you’re working on an assignment, and the situation gets stressful, what would you do to stay focused?
    4. How would you persuade someone to do things your way?
    5. If you encountered a challenging issue, how would you go about explaining it to a client?
    6. Picture a situation where you’re given two high-priority tasks. How would you determine what to do first?
    7. After receiving an assignment, you notice that your teammate misunderstood the requirements. What do you do?
    8. How would you handle it if you saw a colleague acting in an unsafe manner at work?
    9. If you’re given multiple tasks with challenging deadlines, how would you make sure you remain organized while handling them?
    10. This is a fast-paced environment. How would you adapt to the changing needs and priorities that can come with the job?
    11. How would you handle it if you saw a team member stealing?
    12. You’re dissatisfied with an aspect of your job. How do you handle it?
    13. If you knew your manager was making a decision based on inaccurate assumptions, how would you correct them?
    14. Imagine you’ve already got a pretty full plate, but your manager wants you to take on another project. How would you handle that?
    15. What would you do if you initially gave a client a delivery timeline but soon discovered that meeting it wasn’t plausible?
    16. If you were asked to step up and take on leadership responsibilities but didn’t feel comfortable doing so, what would you do?
    17. Dealing with customers can be unpredictable. What would you do if one became hostile?
    18. If a coworker was regularly 15 minutes late, but management didn’t seem to notice, what would you do?
    19. If you were working on a project, and an obstacle meant you would either finish late but on budget or over budget but on time, how would you decide how to proceed?
    20. Imagine you’re starting to experience feelings of burnout. What would you do?
    21. What would you do if you had a chance to go above and beyond for a repeat customer, but it would require a significant amount of effort on your part to make it happen?
    22. You see your manager deliver feedback to a teammate publicly, using insulting and aggressive language in regards to their performance. What do you do?
    23. As you work on a project, what do you do if you aren’t fully satisfied with the quality of your work?
    24. How would you handle it if you received negative – but not constructive – feedback from a colleague?
    25. What would you do if you received negative – but not constructive – feedback from your manager?
    26. Imagine that you’re giving a long project with multiple parts. How would you approach it?
    27. How would you handle a customer who isn’t happy with your service even though you’ve done nothing wrong and they’re actually the ones who have made a mistake?
    28. You have reason to believe that a coworker is preparing to divulge company secrets to a rival corporation. These secrets have the potential to really damage the company. How would you deal with this situation?
    29. You’re a team leader. What would you do if the work of one of your subordinate team members was not up to expectations?
    30. You’ve been assigned a major project and are halfway through when you realize that you’ve made a mistake that requires you to go back to the beginning to fix it. How do you handle that while still trying to make your deadline?
    31. You’re working on a project with a tight deadline, but you find that you’re unable to complete your section because your coworkers and your supervisor are unavailable to answer a few key questions. How do you deal with the situation?
    32. If you introduced an idea for solving a critical problem and your input was ignored by your team members, what would you do?
    33. How would you react if a colleague began taking credit for your contributions to a large project?
    34. You see a new employee arrive for their first day as part of your team. What do you do?
    35. What would you do if you were assigned to work closely with a teammate that you didn’t see eye-to-eye with?
    36. If an unexpected situation required you to redo a significant amount of work to adjust to a required change, how would you react?
    37. If a colleague asked for your feedback on a task they handled, and you saw issues with their work, what would you do?
    38. You see a teammate make a major mistake when quoting a price to a client, charging far too little for the work involved. What do you do?
    39. You’re on a tight deadline with a project. Then, a coworker asks for help on their high-priority task. What do you do?
    40. As you’re collaborating with a colleague, they suddenly take a “my way or the highway attitude.” What do you do now?
    41. You have a choice. You can do something reasonable well and fast or exceptionally well and slow. Which do you choose?
    42. Imagine you’re starting in this job. What do you do to connect with your new team?
    43. If you’re hired in this role, what steps would you take to reach full productivity as quickly as possible?
    44. You’re working with a client with a different personality from yours. How do you adjust your approach to collaborate effectively?
    45. A client has unreasonable expectations for a product. What do you do?
    46. If you do what a high-value client asks, you know there will be an issue with the project. Do you do it anyway?
    47. You end up with some unexpected downtime at work. What do you do with that time?

Putting It All Together

So, there you have it, and an in-depth look at situational interview questions and how to answer them. Use the examples above to your advantage, allowing you to prepare for potentially challenging questions. That way, you’ll be able to respond with ease, increasing your odds of impressing the hiring manager.

Good luck!

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About The Author

Mike Simpson

Co-Founder and CEO of Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan, Penn State, Northeastern and others. Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page.