What is an Hypothetical Interview ?

Hypothetical interviews are interviews in which the interviewer puts the candidates in an imaginary and hypothetical situation and asks for their reaction to it. This is in some aspects similar to role play. This enables the interviewer to gauge the prospective employees analytical and “people” skills.

Answering hypothetical questions such as “how would you handle a consistent late comer?” or “how would you deal with a constantly complaining and negative employee?” etc. may seem difficult and tricky. It is necessary to think for a while taking all the possible circumstances into consideration. The company’s culture and standing should also influence the final answer. There can be many answers to a hypothetical question which can be right. What the interviewer wants to understand is your general thought process and your approach.

If you feel that you need to have more information before you answer the question, you can ask for it. This sends out the impression that you want to have a dialogue with the people involved. This is a positive sign which the employers may like. Once you have a particular approach in mind, it is necessary that you elaborate it to the interviewers in a phased and step-by-step manner.

While a hypothetical interview may seem unsettling at first, you have the advantage of asking for more information. The steps to handling a hypothetical interview are quite similar to the steps involved in a typical problem solving exercise.

Collect information that is related to the issue: This sends out the message that you are a person who is interested with what is happening at the ground and genuinely seeks understanding of reality.

Evaluate the information collected: The information collected should be evaluated for its integrity and the context.

Arrange the information in a priority: Sequencing the information in this manner helps us to find out the actual turn of events which may greatly assist problem solving. This helps us view the situation from a perspective of “cause and effect”

Propose and compare solutions that are possible: In a typical situation, there can be many right answers and solutions. You need to identify the best among them. Try to engage the interviewers in a discussion on deciding the best method. This helps you project yourself as a team player who wants to take everyone “on board”.

Propose an evaluation mechanism for the effectiveness of the solution: It is necessary to ensure that the solution recommended is properly implemented on the ground and that there are methods which give the feedback on its effectiveness. Hence, propose an effective method of gathering feedback for analysis and corrections to the solutions, if necessary.