48 The “Hypothetical Problem”

48 The “Hypothetical Problem”

Human Answer


Sometimes an interviewer will describe a difficult situation and ask, “How would you handle this?” Since it is virtually impossible to have all the facts in front of you from such a short presentation, don’t fall into the trap of trying to solve this problem and giving your verdict on the spot. It will make your decision-making process seem woefully inadequate.


Instead, describe the rational, methodical process you would follow in analyzing this problem, who you would consult with, generating possible solutions, choosing the best course of action, and monitoring the results.

Remember, in all such, “What would you do?” questions, always describe your process or working methods, and you’ll never go wrong.

ChatGPT Answer

When answering a hypothetical problem question in an interview, it's important to demonstrate your problem-solving skills and thought process.

One way to answer a hypothetical problem question is to use the STAR method. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result.

For example, if the interviewer presents a hypothetical problem of "How would you handle a situation where a team member was consistently underperforming?"

  • Situation: A team member is consistently underperforming, and it's affecting the team's productivity.
  • Task: Address the issue and improve the team member's performance
  • Action: I would first schedule a one-on-one meeting with the team member to understand the reasons behind their underperformance. I would also gather feedback from other team members to get a complete picture of the situation. Then, I would create a performance improvement plan with specific goals and deadlines. I would also provide the necessary resources, training and mentoring to help the team member improve. Finally, I would hold regular check-ins to track progress and make adjustments as needed.
  • Result: By taking these actions, I would be able to identify and address the underlying issues, improve the team member's performance, and ultimately increase the team's productivity.

Another way to answer a hypothetical problem question is to use the problem-solving process.

  • Identify the problem and gather information
  • Analyze the information and identify possible solutions
  • Evaluate the solutions and choose the best one
  • Implement the solution and monitor the results

It's important to note that when answering a hypothetical problem question, you should be clear, concise and demonstrate a logical thought process.

Show that you can break down the problem, consider multiple solutions and choose the best one. And also, emphasize on your ability to work as a team and involve other stakeholders if necessary.