How would you handle the following situation?

  | James Innes

How would you handle the following situation?

Alternative and related questions:

What would you do if you were presented with the following scenario?

The meaning behind the question:

Often, an interviewer may pose a hypothetical, scenario-based question telling you to imagine yourself in a difficult or negative situation and asking how you would deal with it.

By confronting you with an unexpected situation and getting you to think on your feet, they can tell a lot about how you would actually react under such circumstances.

Your answer:

The answer you should give will of course depend on the precise scenario the interviewer outlines. You need to try to identify what their expectations of you would be under the circumstances – and highlight the skills and techniques you would use to deal with the situation.

For the purposes of the example below, please imagine the following scenario:

You are a receptionist working on the front desk when all of a sudden a fax arrives, several phone lines start ringing, an important client walks in and a courier turns up with a package that requires your signature. How do you cope with this situation?

In this example, you should be able to identify that the interviewer is probing your ability to prioritise, to ‘fire-fight’ – and to not panic!


My first priority would be to answer the calls while simultaneously presenting the waiting clients and the courier with a professional and friendly smile. The calls can be answered and either be put straight through or be put on hold, allowing me to deal with the client and then the courier thereafter. The people waiting in front of me are able to see just how busy I am, whereas those on the phone will simply feel ignored if their calls are not answered promptly – and may hang up. Having successfully prioritised the calls and the visitors, I would then be able to respond to the fax when there is more time.

The Interview Question & Answer Book

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