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Old 07-20-2012, 07:18 PM
52 posts, read 174,055 times
Reputation: 13


I recently got an interview for my dream company but during the phone screen last week I was thrown a curve ball when I was asked a series of very specific hypothetical behavioral questions that I had no idea how to answer. By some miracle I passed through and have an all day in person interview coming up with members of the team. I want to make sure I practice these hypothetical type of questions so I don't bomb it again if more are asked, but I don't really know how to research it and the methodology used to help me answer them.

For example, the series of questions went something like this (say you're a project coordinator assistant): "You have a client meeting tomorrow with 25 of their team members. Your coworker hasn't give you their project documents yet that you need to give the director by this afternoon, what would you do?" When I prodded for more info about the reasoning, they responded with "Say it was because they were in a closed door meeting and thus were unable to answer your emails or calls." I said something about moving up the work chain and getting backup which I think was the wrong answer, and they then added, "Say your manager was able to reach them and reiterate the importance of the documents. You now have them and send it to the director but hours pass and nobody has responded to you and you need an answer asap. Now what do you do?"

I assume I should be asking specific questions to help shape the scenario but without knowing the general procedure of the company or how the team functions and without an understanding of if this is an independent role or not (I was told later it was) it makes it really hard to answer (or are those the questions I shoul'dve asked?). Plus this is a very entry level role in a position I've never done before so I don't have any frame of reference on "how I did it before" to help me along.

Any advice on how to navigate these types of questions?
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Old 07-20-2012, 07:53 PM
5,683 posts, read 9,136,138 times
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I see those questions as designed to discover how you handle stressful and potentially volatile situations like a colleague dropping the ball, challenging customers, conflicting messages and so on. Basically, they want to find out if you are a screamer, a crier, a loner, a team player, a tenacious go-getter, one who gives up easily -- that kind of thing. They're trying to figure out how your work style and interpersonal skills and communication ability would fit in with the rest of their team.

I'd definitely counsel you to answer honestly, rather than trying to intuit what they want to hear. You describe it as your dream company, but as I have cause to know, employers can hide an awful lot from casual observers. It's clearly important to them that they hire people who fit in with the cultural norms and expectations of their team, and trying to portray yourself as something you are not won't do you much good in the long run.

When you go to that all-day interview, have plenty of questions of your own ready for them. I saw a bunch of good suggestions in this thread: http://www.city-data.com/forum/work-...interview.html, and I'd encourage you to take those and build on them. A real interview is a two-way street, and the applicant is interviewing the company as much as the company is interviewing the applicant. You want to be able to have at least some sense of how well you'd fit in there, how comfortable you'd feel with the team and the company's culture, and asking good questions will help you do that.

Good luck, and let us know how it goes!
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Old 07-20-2012, 08:46 PM
52 posts, read 174,055 times
Reputation: 13
Thank you for the advice and for the link! I didn't think of it that way...after the interview, I was mulling it over and figured it was a way to get me to lay out my thought process (since it was very vague and there was no 'true' answer since I didn't have nearly enough info to answer accurately) and not my work/performance style. I didn't really give much of any answer either way so that's really good to know for the next one!
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Old 07-30-2012, 05:40 PM
52 posts, read 174,055 times
Reputation: 13
Wanted to bump this for any last minute alternate advice (interview is tomorrow). Nerves are ramping up so figured I'd check!
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