If you’re out looking for a new job, prepping for upcoming interviews is a top priority. However, practicing the frequently asked job interview questions won’t be enough. You’ll need to prepare for behavioral interview questions.
In this guide, we will review the top behavioral interview questions employers ask and offer tips on how to answer them. We have also included samples of real-life responses to help you level up your game.
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What Are Behavioral Interview Questions?
A behavioral interview is a frequently used technique that employers use to evaluate job aspirants based on their past behavior in specific scenarios. The interviewer or hiring manager asks behavioral interview questions to understand how a candidate performed and behaved in the past in response to particular workplace situations. Instead of asking hypothetical questions like “How would you respond if you faced a lot of pressure at the workplace?” the interviewer would ask situational questions like “Describe a situation when you were under heavy work pressure. How did you handle the situation?” You’ll need to explain what you did and what the result was.
Why Are Behavioral Interview Questions So Important?
Behavioral questions help the interviewer to learn how you would react in a specific workplace scenario and how you solve problems to achieve a successful result. The logic behind such interviews is that your success in the past can give a positive indication of the chances of your success in the future.
Behavioral questions are non-technical and focused on you. These help ascertain whether your motivations, characteristics, and personality are appropriate for the job role you’re applying for. How to answer them is something you can surely prepare for in advance. You already have the answers – all it takes is just finding the right way to present them.
Top Behavioral Questions to Master
Here are a few well-known examples of behavioral interview questions you may be asked during a job interview. Review the responses and reflect upon how you’d answer the questions, so you’ll be prepared to answer any behavioral questions successfully.
1. Describe how you handled a challenge in the workplace.
This one is a classic behavioral question that hiring companies ask. No matter the job function or the industry, your chances of encountering this question in your interviews is pretty high. What the interviewer wants to know here is how well you can perform under pressure.
At my last job, I worked on an important project scheduled to be delivered in 60 days. My supervisor said we needed to speed up and finish the project in 45 days while keeping our other deadlines intact. I took it up as a challenge for my team and me, and we effectively added a few hours to our daily work schedules and got the project ready in 42 days. Of course, my team gave excellent support, but I think my effective allocation of tasks proved a significant factor in making the project successful.
2. Have you ever made an error? How did you handle it?
We all make mistakes. That’s the hard truth. This question is not about showing your potential employers that you don’t make mistakes or you’ve never made them. Rather, it’s about showing how you tackle mistakes, get over them, and learn from them. That’s what they want to know.
Once, I mistakenly quoted the wrong membership fees to the club where I worked. I honestly explained my mistake to my supervisor, who appreciated my owning up and asked me to offer a waiver for the application fee for that particular client. Thankfully, the member joined our club despite my mistake. I learned to pay more attention to details to give accurate information in the future.
3. Explain how you set goals.
Goal-oriented people are prized assets for any company. But not everyone knows how to set their goals in an effective manner. This question is the interviewer’s attempt at getting an insight into your goal creation process to understand how effective you are at achieving them.
I had always aspired to join the fashion industry. My first job was as a sales associate in a departmental store. I decided to work my way up to the department manager within one year. By then, I would have enough savings to afford a full-time stint at design school. Though working as a department manager wasn’t my end goal, I worked hard towards it because I knew that would eventually help me achieve my main goal.
4. Describe any goal you reached and how you achieved it.
This might seem similar to the last question, but here, the interviewer is trying to delve a little more into the steps you take to accomplish your goals.
Soon after joining Company X, I wanted to achieve the ‘Employee of the Month’ title. It was challenging, and most of my colleagues didn’t take it seriously. But I wanted my picture on the wall because I’m ambitious and take pride in achievements. I worked harder and went out of my way to help my colleagues, supervisors, and clients. I received the honor in the third month. It felt great to accomplish my goal, and it wasn’t long before I moved into a managerial position, mainly due to my positive attitude and hard work.
5. Have you ever made a decision that wasn’t popular?
This question is often asked to people interviewing for a managerial or leadership position. The intent of the question is to figure out how you handle tricky, not-so-pleasant, or downright ugly situations.
Once, I had to manage a team of employees when their supervisor transferred to another city. Their supervisor allowed them to cover each other’s shifts without management consent. I didn’t appreciate the inconsistencies, with some people being given more opportunities than others. I dealt with the situation by introducing a new policy whereby all staffing changes had to be approved by my assistant. Thus, I ensured that everyone who wanted extra hours and was available at specific times could be utilized.
6. Give an example of how you worked as part of a team.
This is another one of those classic questions that interviewers ask to find out if the candidate is a team player and has a collaborative spirit.
At my first job as a team lead, most of my team members were new employees, so I didn’t have much to go with. I sat down with them individually to know them, their strengths, and weaknesses. I delegated tasks based on their personality and gave everyone the opportunity to share their inputs and concerns. I worked with them to make sure things moved smoothly, and in the end, we nailed the project.
7. What do you do if you disagree with someone at work?
Disagreements between colleagues can often snowball into serious workplace issues and do a lot of damage to a company’s productivity and overall work environment. This question helps a potential employer to deduce how you handle it when faced with differences in opinions, working style, or any other issue.
Once, I had a supervisor who wanted me to look for ways to outsource the bulk of the work we were doing in my department. I felt that since our department had the most staff on-premises, we had a great chance to relate to our clients effectively. I presented a solid case to my supervisor, who was ultimately convinced and came up with a compromise plan.
8. Share an example of how you dealt with a difficult client.
If you’re interviewing for a client-facing position, this question is almost inevitable.
One of our clients complained that his social media advertising campaign wasn’t working as he was driving traffic but not getting any conversions. We realized that the actual reason was that their product homepage was not very convincing. I had to communicate to the adamant client that we could not fix his ads if his homepage were unable to sell the product. I gave an ultimatum that they follow our approach, or we won’t be able to work with them. Grudgingly, they agreed to test our proposed landing page and get better results. Eventually, the client thanked us and agreed to our proposal.
9. Describe a situation when you motivated employees or colleagues.
This is another question often directed at candidates appearing for leadership or managerial positions.
Once, our department came to be managed by employees with different industry experts. Most of my coworkers were resistant to the sea changes that were being made. I immediately recognized potential benefits like maximized profits over service and was able to motivate my fellow workers to give the new process a chance to be successful.
10. How have you dealt with a failure at the workplace?
This is a critical question that can even make or break your chances of landing the job. So, you need to answer this question very carefully. What the interviewer is looking for here is to understand whether you can identify and acknowledge your weaknesses and show accountability for your failures. They also want to know if you are growth-driven or get flustered by challenges.
In my last job, we had annual training for new project managers. Since my team had run this event many times, I didn’t see the need to check-in. This resulted in a scheduling conflict, and subsequently, a full-fledged turf war ensued with another team. The issue was quickly resolved at the leadership team meeting, but the problem would not have arisen if I had enquired about it sooner. I learned a lesson to set reminders to check in about important events and projects, even if I’ve done them several times before.
11. What do you do when your team member refuses to or cannot complete their work?
This question sheds light on how well you can motivate or push others on your team to accomplish tasks — an important trait for team players. It also offers a hint at your potential as a leader.
A coworker at Company Z was known for being pathetic at deadlines. I started regularly checking in on him to assess where he was with the task – a move that irked him but did make him work faster and more efficiently. Once, when I worked with him on a time-sensitive project, we had to turn in a sales presentation together and hand it to the manager within a strict deadline. Eventually, the constant check-ins and pushing did the part, and we managed to submit the presentation well within the deadline.
12. What do you do when your to-do list becomes overwhelming?
Do you buckle under pressure? How good are you at delegating tasks? These are some of the things an interviewer wants to know when they ask you this question.
Towards the end of my final semester at the university, I got elected as the Student Council President, and I was also writing my university thesis. Once, I had to submit my thesis the next day while collaborating with other council members to organize an event for the university. I decided that if I tried to multitask, I’d do a poor job. Since my thesis was higher up in my list of priorities, I decided to finalize my paper. Instead of abandoning my council duty, I sent all my outlines for the event to the Student Council VP, requesting him to take over the responsibilities.
Our Learners Also Asked
13. What might be asked in a behavioral interview?
The most common questions that often get asked during behavioral interviews include -
- tell me about a weakness;
- tell me about a time you failed and how did you deal with it
The questions are designed to understand how well you deal with a loss and manage to turn the situation around to make the best of the bad situation.
14. How do you pass a behavioral interview?
Here are some Behavioral Interview Tips:
- Read and understand the job description completely before your interview
- Keep a list of major projects that you’ve worked on and can easily highlight during the interview
- Highlight your previous performance reviews, scores and accomplishments
- Be open and honest with your answers
- Keep a positive attitude and tone, even if the answer might put you in a bad light, turn it around to how you accomplished coming back from situation
- Practice general interview questions before you go to the interview
- Dress appropriately
15. What is the STAR method when interviewing?
The STAR method is method of responding to a behavioral-based interview question by discussing the specific situation, task, action, and result of the situation you are describing.
16. What is your weakness best answer?
When answering this question, make sure you choose a skill that is not essential to the current job you are applying for. You can also choose weaknesses that might show you as a hardworker or also highlight how you are actively overcoming your weaknesses to become a better employee.
Example: I consider myself a multi-tasker which can sometimes become a weakness as I can become overwhelmed when I get pulled in different directions. I am currently work on improving myself by using a list of productivity methods such as checklists and timers to ensure that I can organize my tasks according to priority.
17. How do you handle stress?
Here are some great tips to prevent or handle stress:
- Find the right balance between work and personal life
- Learn when to unwind and turn off the screen
- Eat well and exercise regularly
- Do something that helps you de-stress such as reading a book, dancing, singing, going for a walk, etc.
- Connect with supportive people who can help you relax
- Practice meditation or yoga
- Sleep well
18. How do you answer why should I hire you?
The answer to this question differs depending on the job that you are applying for. However, it is always best to highlight your skills and how they are relevant to the field that you are applying too, talk about your experience that you might think can help the company. Talk about how you can be a great addition to the team and how you can help the company grow and achieve better targets.
19. Have you ever faced blocks in your work? How did you solve it?
Describe when you have faced blocks. This answer can contain multiple situations, so keep each story very brief; you also have to tell the steps you took to clear the blocks.
Most Common Problem Solving Behavioral Interview Questions
20. Give me an example of where you used logic to solve a problem?
Tell the situation where you had to logically take actions, starting from the problem, your approach, and finally, the result.
21. Explain the time you took the initiative on a project?
This question aims to test your energy level. Your answer must show your enthusiasm for taking the initiative. The question will also hint at your passions as you will most probably take the initiative on your passionate projects.
22. Describe how you benefited your team or company using your problem-solving skills?
This question is to check your helping mentality. Show that you think about others when applying your skills.
23. Tell me about a situation where you used creativity to overcome a dilemma?
Here, you should tell how you got a surprising solution to a problem. Also, focus on whether your process has a structure or is spontaneous.
24. What's the best idea you have come up with on a team-based project?
Best ideas are usually the ones for which you get the most praise. However, sometimes that may not be the case if the execution was behind the scenes. When answering this question, try to think of both of these scenarios.
25. How do you approach problems? What's your process?
It is better to explain your approach with examples. However, you must first tell your reasoning behind choosing this process; then, you can give one or two examples showing the usefulness.
26. Tell me about that time when someone consulted you for a problem?
Show your attitude towards the person who approached you. For example, tell the interviewer how you listened and asked questions and how much time you took to solve the problem. In addition, tell them you checked with the person to know if they solved it. Finally, give reasons for either decision.
27. Mention 3 improvements you made in your most recent position?
Ensure you have several examples where you made improvements, and tell them why you consider them as improvements. Moreover, It would be better to describe the process and the inspiration for these.
Working in a Team
28. Are you a team player?
If yes, tell them the situation. Your answer can include the number of team members, the problem, the solutions, and the process; you can also mention if you liked working with a team.
29. What do you like more - working in a team or as an individual?
For this question, you need to tell why you think you are better with a team/alone. Then, exemplify your answer with examples; mention the results clearly that shows your strength.
30. Give me an example where you worked well with a team?
The example must have a detailed explanation of the problem. It is also better to mention why you worked well and tell the interviewers what you liked about the whole experience.
31. What role do you assume when you work within a team?
This answer should depend on the desired role for which you are applying. You may have assumed several functions in your career; tell the one highlighting the skills required for this job. For example, for a management position, tell them about a situation where you were the leader.
32. Have you worked on different types of teams? What was your favorite?
Focus on the benefits of working with each team you have worked with, then tell them which type you liked most. Next, give reasons for liking that particular team. For example, did you like the culture? Did you like their work ethics?
33. What do you do if you disagree with another team member?
Tell the interviewer about your process of dealing with disagreements. Explain the process by describing an experience; explain your thought process.
34. Describe a time when you disagreed with another team member. How did you resolve the issue?
Describe the situation where you had to disagree with a team member. Mention the reason for your disagreement and your approach to solving it. And speak about the result; for example, were you able to convince the other person?
35. Tell me about that time when you failed a team project. How did you overcome it?
Explain the project, its requirements, and why you failed it. Also, speak about the things you did after the failure; for example, tell them the steps you took to reduce this type of failure in the future.
Behavioral Interview Questions on Biggest Failures
36. Tell me about a situation where you failed?
Failure is alright, and you should not feel ashamed to describe your losses. However, your answer must include the goal of the task and the reason for the failure. Ensure that you mention the things you did to learn from the failures. In addition, never blame others for your losses.
37. Have you ever made a mistake?
Everybody makes mistakes, but an honest person admits it, learns from it, and moves forward. Therefore, answer this question by mentioning the situation of the problem and speaking about the reason for your mistake without blaming on situation or people.
38. Tell me about a big mistake you made on a job and how you handled it?
Describe a situation where you made a mistake that had a wide impact; usually, you might have been in a leadership position. Descriptions should include the reason for your mistake and the steps you took to solve them.
39. Tell me about that time when you didn't meet your goals?
Tell the interviewer a story to answer this question. Was it deliberate to achieve something, or was it a mistake? Mention the end result of not meeting your goals; Did you learn a new skill?
40. What is your biggest regret at work?
Ensure you don't talk about personal regrets. And it is fine not to have any regrets; you may not regret mistakes as they did not cause much harm and did teach a lot. However, if you do have regrets, it is better to be honest about them.
41. Are you someone who learns from failures?
Everyone learns from failures, but this question aims to know how you learn from failures. So mention things that you keep in mind during failures; tell them how you analyze the mistakes.
42. Tell me about a situation where you tried something risky and failed?
Describe a situation where you tried something despite having a low probability of success. Mention why you chose to do it, and try to keep the whole answer very lighthearted.
43. Tell me about a decision that you have regretted and how you overcame it.
Don't be afraid to show vulnerability while answering this question. This question aims to understand your ability to bounce back from a failure; mention the steps you took to overcome the damages caused by the decision.
Most Common Leadership Behavioral Interview Questions
44. Give me an example of when you had to assume leadership for your team.
Describe how your thought process while assuming leadership. What were your initial steps? How did you find the right people for delegating tasks? Also, mention the part of the experience that you liked the most.
45. Have you ever had to set goals for a team?
Mention what you like about goal setting for a team and how it is different from setting a goal for yourself. Explain your position with an example from your career; describe the situation, including the type of project, goals, stakes, and urgency.
46. Give me an example where you set a goal and tell me how you achieved it.
Describe how you set a goal, why you had to do it, and how quickly you had to achieve it. Then explain the steps you took to ensure achieving the goal.
47. Describe a time when you were able to motivate the unmotivated team members.
Explain how you inspire people around you. Do you use stories or rhetoric? Also, mention how you identify unmotivated team members in your area.
48. Tell me of a time when you postponed making a decision.
Ensure that you give a reason for postponing the decision. For example, you might feel overwhelmed and not want to make mistakes or think you need some time to learn the situation. Be honest about the reasons.
49. Give me an example of when you delegated work across an entire team.
Tell them about the time when you were leading a group; mention how you picked appropriate members for the tasks. Did you let them volunteer? Also, mention if the project was a success.
50. How do you juggle multiple projects?
Mention the steps you take while juggling multiple projects. Do you use notes or software to manage it? How do you communicate with the members involved in the project? Here, you can show off your experience with multiple project management software.
51. Have you ever had to counsel a difficult team member?
Tell them how you approached the team member. Did you try to let the person figure out the problem on their own? Or did you explain the situation yourself? Also, mention the result of that counseling session.
Most Common Personal Behavioral Interview Questions
52. Tell me about a situation where you worked well under pressure.
While answering this question, ensure you clear the situation's stakes. Also, speak about why you think you were able to do a good job during the work pressure.
53. What is the most challenging work situation you have ever resolved?
Describe how you identified the most challenging situation because workplaces usually have several. Then explain you're going through the process to solve the problem and provide the steps you took to resolve the situation.
54. How do you handle unexpected challenges?
Explain what you do when you face an unforeseen challenge. Tell a story about where you had to face such a challenge; focus on the steps and tell them why you didn't expect that situation.
55. Have you ever been lied to? How did you handle that?
Describe your feeling when you came across a lie. Did you confront the person immediately, or did you softly let them know that you knew about the lie? Also, mention whether you justify the person for lying in that situation.
56. Tell me about a time when you disagreed with a supervisor.
Explain the reasons for your disagreement. And describe the situation in detail, including the result of that disagreement. Do you consider that situation productive?
57. Have you ever faced conflict in your job?
Answer this question with a story where you faced a conflict. Show them how you managed to understand the situation and took the necessary steps to rectify it. In addition, tell them if you like conflicts.
58. Tell me about the time when you had to work unexpectedly on your own.
Another question is where a story is necessary; you should tell them why you didn't expect to work alone. In addition, mention your process for working alone vs. working with a team.
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