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How Utilizing Assumptions in Your Hypothetical Answers Will Change Everything!

Jun 27, 2024

When answering hypothetical job interviews questions such as:

How would you do x?

What would you do in x scenario?

I want you to imagine…?

Utilizing assumptions will play a crucial role in helping your interviewer visualize you solving a specific challenge (memorable) as opposed to a generic challenge (forgettable).

When and How?

Always utilize assumptions when answering hypothetical questions. You should introduce your assumptions after you present your framework (if you are unfamiliar with using the C.F.A.S. Method for answering hypothetical questions watch this video). 

Let your interviewer know that you will be making some assumptions by using a simple transition statement after your framework such as:

“Before solving, let’s make a few assumptions.” 

“As a (state the role), I would assume the following items.”

“Let’s make some assumptions of a scenario I may face in this role.”

What?

Specific! The best way to show you how to be specific is to provide examples. For example, let’s use the following simple hypothetical question: How would you help a client grow their business?

Bad assumptions: “Let’s assume I want to help a large client grow their business with Google Ads.”

Good assumptions: “Let’s assume an existing Google Ads client that sells flip flops online and in brick and mortar stores throughout the US wants to start utilizing Google Shopping Ads to increase both brand awareness and revenue over the next six months.

Yes, these are very specific assumptions. And your interviewer at the moment may not 100% love that you got so specific. But when you start solving for something specific that they can picture, they will get over the fact that you narrowed your focus.

And remember, if we are proposing Google Ads to our interviewer, the assumption is that they are familiar with this subject area and this specific ad type. Otherwise, we would propose something else. The goal of assumptions is to speak to something they can picture, so that you have created a scenario that they can follow along with during your solution.

Pre-planning Assumptions:

Yup, you can pre-plan assumptions without knowing the questions! So how do you do that exactly? Think about the top five to ten likely scenarios you might face in the position and start to pre-plan assumptions around those scenarios, so when you get questions on those subject areas, you are already prepared. If you simply cannot think of scenarios, paste the job description into a generative AI tool and ask the tool to come up with ten scenarios you might face in the position.

Connectivity:

Oftentimes candidates will present assumptions, but not connect those assumptions to the solution. Connecting the assumptions benefits the interviewer as it helps them visualize the solution. It benefits you as the candidate because it allows you to solve for something specific instead of something generic.

What You May Not Have Considered:

Most interviewers take a lot of notes during the interview and then after the interview they clean up their notes. And this typically does not take place right after the interview. So why does this matter? Because your interviewer will remember those candidates that gave specifics (based on assumptions) and this will make you more likable because you are memorable whereas your competition that did not use assumptions, will not.

Conclusion:

Does utilizing assumptions in your hypothetical answers present some risk, yes, but it is minimal. The bigger risk is presenting no assumptions and expecting our interviewer to be able to follow along and not fall asleep, good luck!

For more resources visit my website - Practice Interviews and check out our AI Practice Interview App. 

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