Behavioural Interview Techniques / Scenario Interview Questions for Executives

Scenario Interview Questions

It seems some executives dread answering scenario interview questions. Synonymous with behavioural interviews or competency-based interviews, the reality is these techniques are here to stay. Scenario interviews are a widely practised technique, though candidates sometimes do not appreciate the methodology or rationale behind it. Therefore, it is often simple uncertainty, lack of awareness or weak preparation that can strike more fear into candidates than the actual reality itself. By understanding behavioural interview techniques, scenario interview questions and expectations, it allows executives to become better prepared and answer questions more effectively, so improving overall performance.

Behavioural Interview Techniques

There is a simple rationale and methodology to scenario interviews. Put simply, evidence of past performance is a likely indicator of future performance and overall potential of the candidate. The idea is to assess how candidates react to different situations, solve problems, think under pressure, communicate effectively, make decisions and apply skills within a business or other context. This is set against pre-determined questions and selection criteria, with the same questions being asked to all candidates as a means of standardising the interview process. This gets candidates thinking deeper about what they have done rather than asking more straightforward questions.

Competency-Based Questions

Each question asked is aligned to different competencies or selection criteria. Candidates are then scored against different attributes or levels of competency displayed by answering the question. Different scenarios can be tailored to suit specific roles. An overall scorecard is calculated to see how candidates compared against one another. There may be certain weightings for certain competencies given the relative importance to the role.

Getting Candidates Thinking

The idea is to get candidates thinking deeper about what they have done (previous experiences), decision-making rationale, motivations and achievements for instance. Successfully answering scenario questions relies heavily on executives identifying credible examples that stand up to scrutiny and being asked questions with a slightly different emphasis (i.e. there is more than one way to ask the same question). Questions may also include hypothetical situations that are unlikely to happen but nonetheless get executives thinking that bit deeper about scenarios.

Staying Calm Under Pressure

Sometimes executives get themselves worked-up at interviews and put too much pressure on themselves to perform. Stay calm, listen to / understand the question and pause before launching into an answer. If unsure of the question, ask interviewers to repeat for further clarification and to bide more time to think of a credible answer. It also helps by structuring answers effectively such as by using the STAR approach (Situation; Task; Action; Result). There are limitations to this approach, but it still provides a useful approach to answering questions at interview.

Standing Out at Interview

Interviewers expect executives to prepare and deliver a good interview. Preparation is key and executives can sometimes anticipate questions likely to be asked. Having 5 or 6 strong examples help because understanding these intimately enables such examples to be applied flexibly to different scenarios. Examples give executives capabilities for answering scenario questions and provide evidence of suitability, so choose them carefully and relate these to tangible outcomes or achievements where possible. Along with other interview techniques, back this up by refining interview skills and a having clear strategy for answering questions, then executives can largely guarantee a solid interview performance.

Scenario Interview Questions Executives: Conclusion

Often some simple adjustments, effective preparation and improved awareness of behavioural interview techniques can help remove uncertainties, build confidence and positively impact performance. Mostly, it boils down to a lack of preparation and poor understanding of behavioural interview techniques that often makes candidates fearful of competency-based questions rather than the questions being asked themselves. Here are some examples of where scenario interview questions may apply for executives.

Please see our articles covering executive interviews, including a list of common scenario interview questions, improving interview preparation skills, tactical approaches and dealing with different job interview scenarios.