Scenario-Based Questions – 6 Reasons Why Buyers Are Asking These Questions

Published 15/06/2022
Author image
Senior Bid Writer shares their insights on how to respond to scenario-based questions If you are familiar with bid proposals, you may have seen that scenario-based questions are making a regular appearance. But are you aware of what the buyer is asking, and how to answer the questions efficiently? We caught up with one of our Senior Bid Writers, Robyn Crawford, to pick her brain on scenario-based questions.
Article cover

What are scenario-based questions?

Scenario-based questions are included within a tender and are issued by the buyer. This is so they can learn how you, the supplier, will respond to a hypothetical situation in the future. This is a great way for the buyer to learn about the supplier’s values, ethical standards and thought process.

Scenario-based questions ask for a practical-based application of the supplier’s working practices. This is a good test to see what a supplier’s priorities are. But also, how they will adapt to unfamiliar situations. They’re looking at what processes you have in place and whether they are sufficient for dealing with potential problems.

What type of scenario-based questions can occur during bid proposals?

When issuing scenario-based questions, buyers will pose potential situations that they’re looking for a response to. Here are some examples that Robyn has seen when working on tender responses, across a range of industries:

Scenario 1: Supported Living

"Your Support Workers have noted a young person, placed at your service, is regularly making excuses to stay out of the placement. The young person is respectful, polite, and gentle to the Support Workers and to other tenants. The Support Worker has also noted that the young person is bringing expensive gifts back with them when they do come home. For example, new clothes, a smart phone, and they have a lot of excess cash."

What are the identified concerns and how will you safeguard the young person and address the issues?

Scenario 2: Construction

Please explain how you would manage the safety and wellbeing of residents, in the event of a sudden failure of power supply to part of the building whilst carrying out the installation.

Scenario 3: Healthcare

Betty has end-stage dementia and has been cared for a number of years in her own home. She requires all care and is nursed in bed. Betty has an Advance Care Plan and a ‘Do Not Attempt to Resuscitate (DNAR)’ recommendation in place, written and witnessed prior to her losing mental capacity. Betty’s wish is to die in her own home, although her daughters do not agree with this decision. Neither daughter lives with Betty. 

Betty’s GP has made a number of anticipatory medications available within the house and there is an associated current drug chart in situ. 

Over the past week, your staff have reported that Betty appears a bit more frail but still appears comfortable. 

A member of your staff has visited this morning and Betty appears distressed and unsettled, is crying in pain upon movement, and is cold to touch but appears flushed in the face. The night Carer reports that Betty has been like this all night.  

What action would your staff take?

These are just a handful of questions that you could find in bid proposals. Scenario-based questions will be unique to each buyer. If you have the right policies and procedures in place, you will be able to answer the questions with ease.

But why do buyers seek answers to scenario-based questions?

There can be many different reasons as to why a buyer would be looking for a response to these questions. From experience, these are the most common reasons why:

Predicting future performance

Scenario-based questions are a great way for the buyer to assess and predict a supplier’s future job performance. Furthermore, it allows the buyer to draw a conclusion about how the supplier will solve problems, handle challenges, etc. They are also used to assess soft skills such as communication, teamwork, leadership, adaptability, and decision making.

Problems in the past

The scenario asked may provide an insight into previous failings by an incumbent provider. Therefore, the buyer will be looking to proactively address these issues. Your answer should therefore provide reassurance to the buyer – how will these problems be mitigated?

This is shown in example three. The buyer will be looking for the supplier to address how they would handle this shortfall in service. Whilst also showing how they will mitigate its reoccurrence.

Common occurrence

In some cases, there will be common occurrence within reactive maintenance. Through your response, you should breed confidence on how you will deal with these day-to-day tasks. E.g., how performance will be monitored/managed, how response times will be maintained, health and safety measures in place, etc.

High–risk occurrence

Example one refers to a young person at risk of Child Sex Exploitation. Which in supported living, is a high-risk occurrence. Here, the buyer will want you to demonstrate how your staff are trained to identify this risk. Along with the steps that you will take to keep this young person safe. The buyer will also be looking for any preventative measures. This is what the supplier is putting forward in order to prevent this from ever occurring whilst delivering the contract.

Easier for the evaluator

This type of question can be easier for panels who aren’t necessarily experienced/skilled at reviewing information or are non-specialists. For example, consider this question:

‘Can you describe how you would react if a service user was found to be under the influence of alcohol?’

This will be more accessible to a Care Assistant on the procurement panel and easier for them to assess.

Getting the best out of bidders

Scenario responses are usually easier to respond to – especially for those who are not specialists in tendering. It ensures the buyer is drawing out the best from bidders.

What are your tips when it comes to answering scenario-based questions?

After seeing scenario-based questions become a regular occurrence within bid proposals, I have become adapt in answering the questions. Here are my tips to help you with your own responses:

  • Use a step by step, methodical approach. This will demonstrate logic and critical thinking.
  • Draw on experience. If you have experience with the scenario being presented and have successfully managed this, ensure you make this clear. For example, a response for scenario two could start with:

“COMPANY have dealt with NUMBER of power failures during installation and have successfully resolved this issue by…”

  • Be factual. Although the question is hypothetical, it is important to think critically and respond as though it is a real occurrence. What exactly would you do?
  • Add value – feed innovative methods/technologies into your response. For example, training or IT systems. It is important to constantly demonstrate where you can go above and beyond the expectations of the buyer.

In summary

Scenario-based questions are issued by the buyer to establish if you, the supplier, can adapt easily to unpredicted situations.

They will issue questions with hypothetical scenarios, where you’ll be expected to respond with how you will handle the situation. They will be looking at what policies and procedures you have in place when reacting to issues. The six main reasons why buyers will be issuing scenario-based questions are:

  1. Predicting future performance of the supplier
  2. Identifying solutions for problems they have had in the past
  3. Common occurrence
  4. High–risk occurrence
  5. Easier for the evaluator
  6. Getting the best out of bidders.

When responding to these questions, whilst they may be hypothetical, treat them as if they were really happening. Answer in full detail how you would handle the scenario posed to you. To ensure your response is of the highest quality, here are Robyn’s tips to follow:

  • Use a step by step, methodical approach
  • Draw on experience
  • Be factual. As yourself, what exactly would you do?
  • Add value – feed innovative methods / technologies into your response.

How Hudson Succeed can help 

Now you know what scenario questions are, and why the buyer is asking them. You can begin to improve your bid response. However, our Bid Writers have great experience in answering scenario-based questions. If you feel you lack the ability to respond to these questions, let us help.

We have over 60 years of bid writing experience and an 87% success rate. Whether you’re completely new to tendering or aren’t seeing results – we can help. There are four bid writing packages available:

Tender Writing

Once you’ve found a tender you’d like to go for, send it over to us. One of our Bid Writers will write the tender response for you. We’ll provide a full Tender Writing breakdown and even submit it on your behalf.

Tender Mentor 

Tender Mentor can give your tender response a once over before you submit. Our Bid Writing Team will analyse your response, notifying you of any errors and opportunities for improvements prior to submission.

Tender Ready

During the Tender Ready service, our team will create professional policies, procedures, and case studies in your company branding. If you already have this content, we will review everything carefully to ensure that nothing is missed. Once the programme is complete, you’ll have access to three days’ worth of bid consultancy. This can be used for bid writing, tender reviews, or general advice and guidance.

Tender Improvement

The Tender Improvement package can help those who have tendered before but aren’t seeing results. Our Bid Writers will assess your previous responses and work with you to develop improved content.

Get in touch to find out how we can help your business grow.

Need help with searching for tenders?

Now you know about scenario-based questions, you might be curious about finding tenders for your business.

There’s no shortage of websites offering multi-sector tendering opportunities and leads.

Ideally, you should be searching for a sector-specific site that posts all unique, public and private sector opportunities.

Our sister company, Hudson Discover, has 11 sector-specific tendering portals. One centralised and easy-to-navigate portal can help you save time, streamlining the process.

Once signed up, you’ll have access to your own dedicated Account Manager. They’ll be able to answer any questions you may have about tendering for work. You’ll also get an email alert when new and relevant tenders are uploaded to your sector.

A subscription to one of our industry-specific portals will include:  

  • Unlimited portal access. You can browse your industry’s portal to your heart’s content. See all the opportunities that are available, intuitively categorised, and easily accessible.
  • A daily email bulletin. When you sign up to a portal, you’ll receive an email alert when new tenders are uploaded.
  • A dedicated Account Manager. They’ll handle any questions or queries you may have about the portal.
  • A free 20-minute phone consultation with a Bid Writer. Our expert Bid Consultants will chat with you about anything tender related.

What opportunities can I expect from a tender search on a Hudson Discover portal?

Hudson Discover hosts all kinds of tenders in both the public and private sectors. These are inclusive of, but aren’t limited to:

  • Open tenders
  • Restricted procedure tenders
  • Competitive dialogues
  • Negotiated tendering procedures
  • Innovation partnerships
  • Single supplier contracts
  • Framework agreements
  • Dynamic Purchasing Systems.

Discover Elite

If you want to streamline the process even further, you can sign up to Discover Elite via your chosen portal. With this service, a dedicated Account Manager will find live bids on your behalf. They’ll speak with you weekly to discuss opportunities that may interest you. This is especially helpful for those with little time to spare due to busy schedules.


Our support doesn’t end there! Our creative content agency, Vocal, are on hand to help.

The Vocal Team are not afraid to stand up and be heard. And we make sure our clients aren’t either! From small, micro businesses to large organisations, we are vocal about the things that make your business unique.

Our creative service is dedicated to growing your business through striking and thought-provoking content. We’ll take your bid and give it a complete makeover. With professionally designed tender documents, you’re sure to make an impression on the buyer!

Our team specialise in six areas, including:

  • Copywriting
  • Marketing
  • Branding
  • Websites
  • Design
  • Illustration.

If you’d like to know more about what we can do for your business, introduce yourself to the team!

Contact us to find out more!

Get the best content from Converge direct to your inbox every month.
Author image

About The Author

Hudson is a global provider of tendering and business development solutions. The Hudson Group is split into eight strands, allowing us to help businesses at every level. No matter the size or industry, we help companies, both nationally and internationally, to reach their full potential. Our team has decades of experience, helping companies to find and win the contracts they want to deliver. Last year alone, we secured over £300 million in direct contract wins for our clients.

Related Story