Targeted Selection Interview: Definition and 10 Examples

Updated 6 May 2023

Targeted selection interviews focus on asking about a candidate's previous professional experience. This helps companies to assess your future potential from your past actions. Learning how to answer these types of questions may help you prepare for job interviews. In this article, we explain what a targeted selection interview is, discuss why employers may choose to use this format and provide examples of targeted selection questions you may encounter during the hiring process.

What is a targeted selection interview?

Targeted selection interviews are a type of interview format that employers use to ask questions about a candidate's professional experience. It's a type of behavioural interview in which the interviewer asks about your past responsibilities, duties and decisions to assess how you may react to similar scenarios in the future. They might want to know about your previous employment, how you overcame a challenge or how you prioritise your work. Employers often ask candidates to answer using examples from their own experience.

Related: 10 Interview Hacks to Help You Prepare for a Job Interview

Why do employers ask targeted selection interview questions?

The idea behind asking targeted selection questions is that employers can determine from your past actions how you might perform in the future. For this reason, hiring managers might ask targeted selection questions during an interview to learn more about your past work experience, responsibilities and duties. They may also wish to find out more about how you react to specific workplace scenarios and how you've changed or learnt from previous challenges. The ultimate goal is to assess whether you're going to be a good fit for the company based on your prior professional experience.


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Examples of targeted selection questions

Employers may ask several targeted selection questions during an interview alongside other common interview questions. Targeted selection questions may require you to provide workplace examples you've experienced yourself, so it may help to have some answers prepared in advance. The following are examples of questions interviewers may ask you and ways you can answer them effectively:

1. Can you tell me about a decision you've made at work that you would now make differently?

This is a question that effectively asks about any decisions you regret making at work. An interviewer isn't looking to learn about the decisions themselves or what led you to make that decision, but why you want to do things differently now. This is an opportunity to show a potential employer how you've learnt from past challenges, and how you can grow from your experiences. You may wish to choose one or two examples of decisions that you could have made differently, then explain what choice you would make in the future instead.

Related: How to Use the STAR Interview Response Technique

2. Can you tell us about a time you solved a problem independently?

Employers often like to know that you can work independently and solve problems by yourself if managers are absent. They may ask you to provide examples of times when you were successful in solving problems on your own accord. Demonstrating your ability to solve problems independently shows you're not afraid to take on responsibility and can find practical solutions.

Related: 10 Problem-Solving Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

3. What approach do you take when faced with a stressful situation?

Interviewers may wish to know how you handle challenging situations, so they may ask for examples of times when you've successfully overcome stress in the workplace. Overcoming stress shows you're able to manage different scenarios positively to produce favourable outcomes. It's useful for employers to know about any stress encountered and overcome outside the office if the lessons learnt can apply at work. Employers ask these questions to determine if you have the skills and experience to work in a fast-paced and potentially stressful environment.

4. Can you describe the project you're most proud of completing?

An interviewer may ask you to describe a work project that you're proud of, as they want to know about your project management approach. This gives you a chance to highlight a successful project or piece of work and explain how you helped it to become a success. Describing a project you're proud of provides you with an opportunity to talk about what motivates you, how you manage your time and how you organise your tasks. If the project was collaborative, you can talk about how you worked well as part of a team to complete it.

5. Can you explain how you communicate with your colleagues?

If the role you're applying for requires lots of teamwork, then your interviewer may ask you about your preferred styles of communication. This helps your potential employer be confident that you can fit into the existing framework and communications structure of the company. You may wish to explain the different channels of communication you use at work and which you believe are most effective. By showing your capacity to use multiple channels, such as emails, meetings and informal networking, you can show you're readily adaptable to different scenarios.

Related: 4 Types of Communication (With Examples)

6. What motivates you to succeed?

Motivation is a key aspect of success, so employers may ask what motivates you in the workplace. Different organisations offer different motivations and incentives, so an employer may wish to know if you work best with intrinsic motivators, such as a desire to do a good job, or extrinsic motivators, such as a bonus for hitting targets, or a combination of both. This is also a chance for you to explain how you keep yourself motivated in the workplace and how you inspire yourself to complete projects, achieve targets or meet deadlines.

Related: Understanding Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

7. How do you organise and prioritise your tasks?

Interviewers may ask you to describe how you organise and prioritise tasks in the workplace. They may want to know which systems you use, how you plan your daily schedule or how you organise projects that span several weeks or months. You may find it helpful to describe a recent scenario when you used a system of organisation and prioritisation to complete a project before the agreed deadline. This shows a potential employer that you're dependable, reliable and highly organised.

8. Can you provide an example of a presentation you're proud of delivering?

Many jobs require you to have excellent presentation skills, so an employer may ask you to describe a time when you delivered a presentation and were proud of the result. This is an opportunity to explain how you put the presentation together, including your methodology, the tools you used and the skills you required. It's also an opportunity for you to show a future employer that you're confident delivering presentations to colleagues, customers or management in a public capacity.

Related: How to Make a Presentation (With Detailed Steps and Tips)

9. Have you ever disagreed with your managers? If so, how did you react?

Your future employer may ask if you've ever disagreed with decisions made by your managers so they can discover how you approached this situation. You can explain how you disagreed with a decision, but brought the subject up delicately and professionally with your team leader. This shows that you're tactful and polite but have the confidence to express yourself.

10. How do you manage conflict?

Most workplaces experience some sort of conflict, and interviewers might be keen to know how you've managed it in the past. It's useful for employers to learn more about your style of conflict resolution and how you've resolved past workplace conflicts. In answering a question like this, it may help to describe how you handled the situation and what you did to create a positive outcome for all involved.

Related: What Is Conflict Management? The Ultimate Guide

Tips for preparing for targeted selection interviews

The following tips may help you prepare for an interview:

  • Review the job description for hints. A job description lists the role's duties and responsibilities, which may provide important information about the questions that an interviewer might ask. For example, if a job description includes mediating employee conflicts, the interviewer is likely to ask you about a time you've successfully resolved such issues.

  • Prepare examples in advance. It helps to be well-prepared for an interview, so it's beneficial to preempt the questions and prepare answers before you attend. If you're preparing for a leadership role, for example, think of instances that demonstrate your ability to lead and motivate others that you may discuss during the interview.

  • Practise answering targeted selection questions. Before your interview, it may help to practise answering questions with friends, family members, colleagues or a mentor.


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