In this lesson, we'll learn all about hypothetical questions and how to best answer them.


Hypotheticals, or “what if” questions, challenge you to demonstrate creativity and confidence; they also allow interviewers to assess your instinctive responses. These scenarios may be realistic, fantastical, or both.

Being ready for hypothetical questions can help you get past personal bias that may affect your interview performance. For example, if you are someone who prefers realism, you may be thrown by questions that ask you to imagine unrealistic scenarios. However, if you know that hypotheticals ​are coming, preparing for them will ensure that you won’t be caught off guard and respond poorly.

Parsing hypothetical questions

Hypothetical questions will begin with phrases like:

  • “Imagine…”
  • “If…”
  • “Put yourself in the position of…”
  • “If you could have…”
  • “It’s 2050 and…”
  • “You’re in charge of x,y,z and…”

Pro Tip: If you are someone who loves details and accuracy, you will be tempted to ask for specifics before answering. Resist this urge! This is a hypothetical situation, not a real one. If you need specifics, state them as your assumptions. For example, “I will assume that the team is co-located,” or “I will say it’s springtime​ and temperatures outside are moderate.”

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