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Situational interview questions provide more than just a synopsis of a candidate’s job-related skills. When you ask the right questions, they provide insight into a prospective hire’s personality, how they think, solve problems, handle conflict and naturally conduct themselves – even under pressure. And that pretty much sums up some of the key traits you’re looking for in an administrative team member, right?

Use situational interview questions to probe candidates’ skills in organizing workflow, communication and persuasion, problem solving and interacting with people. They allow you to get an individual away from rehearsed responses and to provide specific examples of how they used job-related abilities to affect change and resolve issues in their past roles.

How to Write Situational Questions

Focus on your job description as you prepare your situational interview questions. Make a list of all required skills, responsibilities and personality traits. Then, formulate questions that explore exactly how a person has demonstrated these qualities in past situations. The best prospects will offer success stories that connect directly to the position. Weaker candidates will come up with vague generalities.

Here are four sample questions and some ideas for evaluating responses to them:

  1. Describe a situation where you had to collaborate with a difficult co-worker.

A strong candidate will show professionalism in their attitude and communication style. Problem-solving and conflict-resolution skills are key. Solid prospects will demonstrate they achieved a workable outcome in the face of dissent or disagreement. Weaker candidates will tend to blame others and shirk accountability.

  1. Describe a situation where you needed to persuade someone to accept your point of view.

A candidate should demonstrate empathy and active-listening skills, which have allowed them to understand both sides of a situation while at the same time, bringing about a change of opinion. They should show their strength in negotiating, and how they successfully develop and strengthen working relationships.

  1. Describe a mistake that you’ve made professionally.

Everyone makes mistakes. If a candidate refuses to acknowledge any past errors or poor decisions, this is a sign they aren’t willing to learn from them. This question is about how a person reflects upon and benefits from these learning experiences.

  1. Describe a situation where you had to take the initiative in order to succeed.

A strong response will illustrate a candidate’s proactivity. They should be able to describe a specific situation where they recognized a problem or opportunity no one else had seized upon, and then took initiative and ownership of it. Their action should show a willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty when required.

Situational questions can be an invaluable tool as you identify and hire top-performing administrative talent. If you need assistance in developing or fine-tuning your industry leading hiring process, contact the StaffMasters team today.

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