25 examples of behavioral interview questions and how to answer them
When heading for an interview, applicants should be prepared for any questions they are asked. Many candidates prepare to talk about their past experience and how it fits into the role, but many overlook the questions that ask them to describe how they find themselves in the workplace, better known as behavioral interview questions.
âI have a reputation for being a tough interviewer, but I don’t think that’s it,â said Tara Cassady, executive vice president of client services for the Americas at Cielo, a global recruitment process outsourcing partner. âI have structured behavioral questions that ask for details. I don’t have a conversation with the person, I interview the person. Overall, the interview process got a bit lax as the market got so tight and people were generally wondering, “What’s their likability factor?” Â»As opposed to a real interview for the skills and specificities to be achieved in the context of the job.
Targeted behavioral interview questions allow a hiring manager to test whether a candidate has a specific soft skill or difficult skill needed for that role by asking them to look back on their career and set examples. As a result, the candidate should come prepared with stories to best answer the behavioral interview questions.
âWhen we spend time as an interviewer and interviewee, we have to be prepared,â Cassady said. âUsing behavioral interview questions prepares the interviewer and helps determine if the interviewee is prepared. It can absolutely make the right candidates stand out.
In this article, you will learn:
- What is a behavioral interview question
- Why are behavioral questions used
- 25 examples of behavioral interview questions
- How you best answer behavioral interview questions
- How you can practice behavioral questions before the interview
What are the behavioral interview questions?
Behavioral interview questions are questions that recruiters ask in order to better understand how you react to certain situations.
These behavioral interview questions, sometimes referred to as anecdotal interview questions, ask candidates to tell a story about specific cases in their careers. These types of questions give hiring managers more insight into a candidate’s work style and personality, but they also allow the candidate to prove why they are the best person for the job.
When asking a candidate a behavioral question, they should prepare stories that showcase them in the best possible light.
Why are behavioral questions used?
Used correctly, you will find that it can be used to look for consistency in answers and how to identify how an employee will turn out with specific questions. Are we going to assess soft skills such as problem solving or critical thinking or their speaking skills?
The other thing you can assess when deciding to use these kinds of interview questions isâ¦ is the candidate prepared? Is the interviewer able to compare and contrast the details? So are they using the interview guide? So there are some things my interviewer is willing to use behavioral questions because he has documented questions, it’s structured, he looks at the answers, he can compare and contrast one interviewee with another, and then we also look for consistency in behavior because the interviews answer the questions.
Examples of behavioral interview questions
Behavioral questions about decision making and problem solving
- Q1: Describe a situation in which you used common sense and logic to solve a problem.
- Q2: Give me an example of a time when you had to be quick to make a decision.
- Q3: Can you tell me about the last time you had to act and there was no formal procedure on how to do it?
- Q4: How do you go about a task you’ve never done before?
- Q5: Can you tell me about a time when you had to deal with a client who made unreasonable or stretched requests and how you created a win-win situation?
- Q6: We have all been asked on occasion to perform tasks to achieve a goal where the instructions are really ambiguous. Can you tell me about a time when this happened to you and what you did to achieve the goal?
Behavioral questions on leadership
- Q7: Have you ever had a hard time convincing others of your ideas? How did you handle the situation and were you successful?
- Q8: Describe the most difficult group from which you had to gain cooperation.
- Q9: Can you tell us about a time when you took the initiative for a project?
- Q10: How do you manage the results of your team members?
Behavioral Motivation Questions
- Q11: Tell me about a time when you went beyond the call of duty.
- Q12: Give me an example of a situation where you positively influenced the actions of others.
- Q13: Give an example of a goal you achieved and tell me how you achieved it.
Behavioral questions on communication
- Q14: Describe a situation where you were able to communicate with another person who did not like you personally (or vice versa).
- Q15: Describe a time when you had to use written communication to convey an important point or idea.
- Q16: Have you ever inadvertently offended or upset someone? Can you describe the details?
Behavioral questions on interpersonal skills
- Q17: Give me examples of what you have done in the past to promote teamwork.
- Q18: Give an example of an unpopular decision you made, what the result was and how you handled it.
- Q19: What was your relationship with the best boss you ever had?
- Q20: Can you tell me about a time you let someone down? How did you deal with this?
Behavioral questions about planning and organizing
- Q21: When planning your time, what method do you use to decide which items take priority?
- Q22: Describe how you handled a sudden disruption in your schedule.
Behavioral questions on professional feedback
- Q23: What’s been the toughest criticism you’ve received so far in your career? What did you do with it?
- Q24: Can you describe the details of a time when you were unfairly criticized?
- Q25: When was the last time you received constructive feedback? what was that? What did you do with it?
How to answer behavioral questions during an interview?
Many professionals, including Cassady, suggest using the STAR method to answer behavioral interview questions.
The STAR method is a procedure that can be used to provide thoughtful answers that contain fully formed starts, middle and ends. STAR stands for Situation, To Do, Action You Took, and Outcome. This method allows you to tell a story that begins with the situation, moves on to the task assigned to you, takes the action you took, and ends with the outcome of what happened in that particular case. These stories are the most impressive for interviewers because they show how you actually act in the workplace.
âI can tell when I’m interviewing if anyone has thought about the interview before showing up for the interview in terms of specific or in-depth answering the questions,â Cassady said.
According to Cassady, the characteristics of a good behavioral maintenance response are:
- Authenticity. While candidates should be prepared to answer these interview questions, it shouldn’t sound like you are reading a script when it comes time to speak with the hiring manager. Prepare some stories, but make sure you don’t over-prepare and look like a robot on the day of the interview.
- Specificity. Being able to provide specific details versus general details is essential to getting answers to behavioral interview questions. When Cassady asks interviewers how they handle the results of their team members, she doesn’t want to hear that they just take a look at the data. Rather, she would prefer a story that shows how you’ve handled performance in the past.
- Clarity. If you tell stories that don’t make sense to the hiring manager, there’s a good chance you won’t get the job. Being clear while telling your stories is important in answering behavioral interview questions, which is why the STAR method is so useful. “This ability to tell the story and answer the question will be an impressive answer to a behavioral interview question â, Cassady noted.
How do you practice behavioral questions before an interview?
The best way to practice responding to behavioral interviews before an interview is to tell the stories before the interview.
âPreparation is always the key to an effective interview,â said Cassady.
First, you need to think about situations in your career where you have demonstrated particular soft skills that the questions relate to.
Next, you should use the examples of the behavioral questions to make a list of situations that will be useful to discuss in the interviews. You can go even further by writing each situation according to the STAR method.
Most importantly, you should practice telling someone these stories. Most people don’t have a professional interview coach to train with, so instead take a friend or family member and provide them with a list of behavioral questions they can ask you.