15 Hypothetical Interview Questions and Tips on How to Answer Them

February 22, 2021

Companies use hypothetical interview questions to understand your behavior in the workplace. During an interview, you'll be asked a varying number of questions, which require you to employ your problem-solving skills to solve complex business challenges. Your ability to answer these questions effectively demonstrate if you're qualified for the position and if you fit in with the company's culture.

In this article, we outline what hypothetical interview questions are, the advantages and disadvantages of hypothetical interview questions,15 hypothetical interview questions to prepare for and tips to help you answer them.

Read more: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions and Examples

What are hypothetical interview questions?

Hypothetical interview questions test your skill-level at identifying and addressing commonplace situations in the workplace. The quality of your responses gives the interviewer a glimpse of the way you think about problems that approach you, preexisting assumptions you have, the curiosity you exhibit when presented with the question and follow-up questions you may ask. In other words, navigating the questions can serve you well in comparison to the answer based on your willingness to solve the problem and display the right attitude in the process.

Read more: 12 Tough Interview Questions and Answers

Advantages of hypothetical interview questions

Hypothetical interview questions showcase advantages for the interviewer and the applicant speaking to them.

Some of the advantages you have when answering hypothetical interview questions include:

Gives you a chance to define your core values

Your core values make up your belief system and ethics that drive you to make key decisions on behalf of the organization. The core values you possess unveil your professional goals and if they're aligned with your personal goals. Your viewpoint on professional development and your motivations can convince an employer if you're the type of candidate they're looking for to fill the open position at their company.

Allows you to demonstrate your collaboration skills

Your collaboration skills dictate if you can build relationships with different personalities that make up the workplace of the company you're interviewing for. You can use collaboration skills to formulate new ideas around a product or service or you can develop existing processes that have advanced your career and your previous employers. Answer hypothetical interview questions by showing when you worked with a team to reach a goal that had a mutual benefit for all parties.

Provides the interviewer a scenario when you overcame adversity

These types of questions ask you about when you've faced adversity in the workplace, and the type of answer you give needs to be tailored to the business you're interviewing with. Highlight the times when you needed to conduct research, analyze it and make a decision based on what you gathered. This is a comprehensive answer that walks the employer through all steps of a situation and what you did to make a calculated decision.

Read more: Critical Thinking Skills: Definitions and Examples

Disadvantages of hypothetical interview questions

Even though hypothetical interviews can be an indicator of your behavior, you may notice flaws that affect the quality of the interview.

Some of the disadvantages of hypothetical interview questions include:

Answers can be faked

An interviewer may be enthralled by your response and they might want to follow up to check with a previous employer about the situation you described. Therefore, it's best to stick with the facts when you're answering hypothetical interview questions, so you can put your best traits and behavior on display. The tendency of answers being faked may lead to fewer of these questions being asked, especially if they're looking for an entry-level employee or intern.

Answers can be time-consuming

If the interviewer is asking these questions at the beginning or the middle of the interview first, then there is a possibility that your response can leave less time for other important questions. The interviewer should be asking questions about your experience first before pivoting to hypothetical questions, so they can see if you're capable of working for the company. Be mindful of the questions asked of you and the sequence in which they're asked, so you can gauge their interest in hiring you.

15 hypothetical interview questions

Here are 15 hypothetical interview questions that an interviewer might ask you:

  • What would you do if you were put into a situation where you were required to put in additional effort to complete a task?
  • What if I instructed you to make a change to your schedule that warranted you to prioritize a separate obligation over finishing a task at work?
  • How would you react if you had to complete a task that made you dissatisfied with your job? How would you address this with management?
  • How do you plan on working on a large-scale objective that greatly affects the success of the company?
  • How would you respond to a problem that you discovered?
  • What if you had to work with a difficult coworker on a task?
  • What if you were expected to work with a tough client or manager on a task?
  • How would you make a great impression with a client during a meeting?
  • Tell me the way you would manage a large workload.
  • How would you approach working on a long-term project that needed to be completed by the end of the quarter?
  • If I told you that you failed, what would be your first reaction?
  • What if I told you that you had to step in for a manager to give a presentation?
  • What if I assigned you writing tasks that required you to express your creativity?
  • What if a coworker is slow to respond to the information you need to carry out a certain task?
  • Do you think you could persuade a coworker to see your viewpoint about the direction of a strategy? If so, what techniques would you use to persuade them?

Tips to answer hypothetical interview questions

Take a look at these tips to help you answer hypothetical interview questions:

State the problem, solution and the benefit of your actions

Your answers need to either acknowledge the problem or state the adversity you face first. This enables you to fully explain the solution to fix the problem and how your solution can positively impact the company.

Connect your experiences

Match your experience with each of the three steps listed earlier. The experiences from the problem stage to the benefits of the solution make it clear that you're involved with all stages of the question.

Get clarity if you're unsure about the context of the question

Always follow up with the interviewer if you're initially confused about the hypothetical question. Getting clarification makes it easier for you to process it and identify how they're expecting you to answer it. Be sure you leave an actionable response that can grow the company you're interviewing with.


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