To help hiring leaders identify the best candidates for technical roles, we gathered situational interview questions from professionals in various industries. From “How do you navigate unclear situations?” to “How do you remove roadblocks under deadline pressure?”, these experts, including CEOs and HR managers, share their top situational questions to ask during a technical role interview.

How Do You Navigate Situations with an Unclear Path?

Beyond the realm of behavioral interview questions lies a powerful tool in the hands of hiring leaders—the situational interview. Picture this: You’re presented with a hypothetical scenario, and your task is to showcase your problem-solving prowess by providing a thoughtful resolution or response. These questions serve as a litmus test, gauging your ability to foresee potential workplace challenges and your aptitude in tackling them head-on.

So, what’s one example of such a thought-provoking query that hiring leaders may pose during your technical interview? Imagine being asked, “How would you navigate a situation where you’re assigned a task, but you’re unsure about how to complete it?” This inquiry delves into your ability to navigate ambiguity, assess complex problems, and chart a course toward a successful outcome.

Thomas Miller
Sales and Marketing Manager, Chilli Pilates

How Do You Deal with Stakeholders Outside Your Team?

The questions I would ask a technical role would depend on their expected task. Ideally, a tech lead should be a lateral move from a senior position. They are not meant to be an engineering manager.

When interviewing for a tech role position, I would inquire about recent challenges in dealing with stakeholders outside the team and how they would handle those situations relative to system design and their coding abilities. Additionally, asking about team processes, ownership, PR policies, and conflict resolution regarding implementation and design can provide valuable insights.

In a more hierarchical view of tech roles, the interview questions should be designed to filter out tech leads that create unworkable designs. Personally, I would prefer an inexperienced tech lead who promotes collaboration over a competent tyrant, as nobody can be an expert at everything.

Paw Vej
Chief Operating Officer,

How Do You Approach Conflict Resolution?

Hiring leaders can ask an applicant to describe a conflict they recently had. This allows them to share a mistake they may have made and how they got themselves out of it. Problem-solving skills are essential in almost any role, and this allows the interviewer to understand how strong those skills are

Christy Pyrz
Chief Marketing Officer, Paradigm Peptides

Describe How You Handle Miscommunication

No matter how technical the role is, the candidate needs to have emotional intelligence and people skills. We always make sure to ask situational questions that tell us something about how candidates see their interactions with others.

“If your direct manager came to you, and was upset that you had not completed X, but it was outside of your normal role, and no one had communicated that you needed to take care of it, how would you handle the situation?” Some will start their answer with “I would tell the manager to calm down…”. That is not the way to handle it. Calm, direct communication is.

Rick Berres
Owner, Honey-Doers

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How Would You Explain a Complex Topic to a Confused Client?

“How would you explain complex topics to team members or clients who do not understand the technical details of the project?

Asking a candidate to explain a complex technical skill set to an individual with no experience or prior knowledge provides the interviewer with an example of their communication style, demonstrates their level of comprehension of the technical skill or complex topic, and allows the interviewer to ask follow-up questions to further assess the technical skill level of the candidate based on the needs of the role.

Nikki Steel
Talent Acquisition and Human Resources Manager, Prager Metis CPAs

What Steps Do You Take to Resolve a Technical Issue?

“Tell me about a time when you had to troubleshoot a technical issue. What steps did you take to resolve the issue?”

This question is designed to assess the candidate’s problem-solving skills and their ability to think critically. The hiring leader is looking for the candidate to be able to:

  • Identify the problem
  • Gather information about the problem
  • Develop a plan to resolve the problem
  • Implement the plan
  • Test the solution
  • Verify that the problem is resolve

The candidate’s answer to this question should be specific and provide details about the steps they took to resolve the issue. They should also be able to articulate the lessons they learned from the experience.

Brenton Thomas
CEO, Twibi

How Do You Resolve Roadblocks on a Tight Timeline?

“Imagine you’re working on a project with tight deadlines, and you encounter a critical technical issue that is impacting the progress. How would you approach this situation and what steps would you take to resolve it?”

This question presents a realistic scenario that candidates may encounter in a technical role and assesses their problem-solving skills, critical thinking, and ability to handle pressure. It allows hiring leaders to gauge how candidates analyze complex problems, communicate their thought process, and devise effective solutions.

Through this situational question, hiring leaders gain insights into a candidate’s technical expertise, problem-solving skills, decision-making capabilities, and their ability to handle challenges in a professional setting. It helps assess their suitability for the technical role and their potential to contribute to the success of the team and organization.

Harsh Verma
SEO, CodeDesign