Answer Behavioral Questions in Your Job Interview

 Many employers are now doing “behavioral interviews”. Rather than focusing on your resume and reviewing your accomplishments as you have written them on paper, the “behavioral” interviewer will ask you open-ended questions that will cause you to describe real circumstances and your responses to them.

General answers about behavior are not what the employer is looking for. You must describe in detail a particular event, project, or experience and you dealt with the situation, and what the outcome was. The premise behind behavioral interviewing is that the most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance in similar situations.

What is Behavioral interviewing:

  •  Behavioral interviewing is a technique used by employers in which the questions asked assist the employer in making predictions about a potential employee’s future success based on actual past behaviors, instead of based on responses to hypothetical questions.
  • In behavior-based interviews, you are asked to give specific examples of when you demonstrated particular behaviors or skills.
  • General answers about behavior are not what the employer is looking for. You must describe in detail a particular event, project, or experience and you dealt with the situation, and what the outcome was.

Although it will be more difficult to prepare concrete answers in advance to these interviews (as opposed to traditional ones), you can and should take some time to review your understanding of yourself, your past successes and concrete examples of your accomplishments. Work on honesty, sincerity and candidness. When you start to tell a behavioral story, the interviewer may try to sort out the details by understanding your behaviors.

The interviewer will probe for more depth, detail or understanding with questions like: “What were you thinking at that point?” or “Tell me more about what you discussed with that person.”

If you’ve told a story that’s anything but totally honest, your response will not hold up through these probes.

If you have a spouse or friend that can pose as an interviewer for you, it can be helpful for you to practice answering open-ended questions, such as the following. Have your friend probe further:

  1. Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way.
  2. Describe a time when you were faced with a stressful situation that demonstrated your coping skills.
  3. Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.
  4. Give me an example of a time when you set a goal and were able to meet or achieve it.
  5. Tell me about a time when you had to use your presentation skills to influence someone’s opinion.
  6. Give me a specific example of a time when you had to conform to a policy with which you did not agree.
  7. Please discuss an important written document you were required to complete.
  8. Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.
  9. Tell me about a time when you had too many things to do and you were required to prioritize your tasks.
  10. Give me an example of a time when you had to make a split second decision.
  11. What is your typical way of dealing with conflict? Give me an example.
  12. Tell me about a time you were able to successfully deal with another person even when that individual may not have personally liked you (or vice versa).
  13. Tell me about a difficult decision you’ve made in the last year.
  14. Give me an example of a time when something you tried to accomplish and failed.
  15. Give me an example of when you showed initiative and took the lead.
  16. Tell me about a recent situation in which you had to deal with a very upset customer or co-worker.
  17. Give me an example of a time when you motivated others.
  18. Tell me about a time when you delegated a project effectively.
  19. Give me an example of a time when you used your fact-finding skills to solve a problem.
  20. Tell me about a time when you missed an obvious solution to a problem.
  21. Describe a time when you anticipated potential problems and developed preventive measures.
  22. Tell me about a time when you were forced to make an unpopular decision.
  23. Please tell me about a time you had to fire a friend.
  24. Describe a time when you set your sights too high (or too low).
  25. Tell me about a time that you demonstrated initiative?
  26. Describe a situation when have you motivated yourself to complete an assignment or task that you did not want to do?
  27. Think about a difficult boss, professor or other person. What made him or her difficult? How did you successfully interact with this person?
  28. Think about a complex project or assignment that you have been assigned. What approach did you take to complete it?
  29. Tell me about the riskiest decision that you have made. What were your considerations in making that particular decision.
  30. Can you tell me about an occasion where you needed to work with a group to get a job done? What were the challenges and difficulties and how did you face these?
  31. Describe a situation when you or a group that you were a part of were in danger of missing a deadline. What did you do?
  32. Tell me about a time when you worked with a person who did things very differently from you. How did you get the job done? Would you work with that person again if given the choice?
  33. Describe your three greatest accomplishments to date.
  34. Tell me about a situation when you had to learn something new in a short time. How did you proceed?
  35. Can you tell me about a complex problem that you solved? Describe the process you utilized.
  36. Give me an example of a time when you had to make a split second decision.
  37. Give me an example of a bad decision that you made and what you learned from that mistake?
  38. Tell me about a time when something you tried to accomplish and failed. What did you learn from that failure?
  39. Tell me about a time when you missed an obvious solution to a problem. What did you learn from that mistake?
  40. Tell me about a challenge that you successfully met.
  41. Describe a situation when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.
  42. Please tell me about one or two unpopular decisions you have made. What were the positive and negative outcomes of those decisions?
  43. What leadership positions have you held? Describe your leadership style. What aspects of your leadership style have you changed or deleted once you learned that these aspects were not successful?
  44. Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.
  45. Summarize a situation where you successfully persuaded others to do something or to see your point of view. Tell me about a time when you had to use your presentation skills to influence someone’s opinion.
  46. Give an example of when your persistence had the biggest payoff.
  47. How have you most constructively dealt with disappointment and turned it into a learning experience? Please give me a concrete example in your life.
  48. Tell me of a time when you had to conform to a policy with which you did not agree.
  49. Describe a situation in which you effectively developed a solution to a problem by combining different perspectives or approaches.
  50. Describe a time when you were faced with problems or stresses at work that tested your coping skills. What did you do?
  51. Give an example of a time when you had to be relatively quick in coming to a decision.
  52. Give me an example of an important goal you had to set and tell me about your progress in reaching that goal.
  53. Describe the most creative work-related project you have completed.
  54. Give me an example of a problem you faced on the job, and tell me how you solved it.
  55. Tell me about a situation in the past year in which you had to deal with a very upset customer or co-worker.
  56. Give me an example of when you had to show good leadership.
  57. Behavioral Interview questions to test analysis skills:

  58. Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.
  59. Give me an example of a time when you used your fact-finding skills to solve a problem.
  60. Describe a time when you anticipated potential problems and developed preventive measures.
  61. What steps do you usually follow to study a problem before making a decision?
  62. Behavioral Interview questions to test leadership skills:

  63. Give an example of your ability to build motivation in your co-workers, classmates or a volunteer committee
  64. What is the toughest group that you’ve had to get cooperation from? Describe how you handled it. What was the outcome?
  65. Behavioral Interview questions to test communication skills:

  66. Describe the most significant written document, report or presentation that you had to complete.
  67. Tell me about a time when you had to use your presentation skills to influence someone’s opinion.
  68. Technical or professional skills:

  69. As a customer service representative, tell me about a time when you have to deal with angry customers.
  70. As an accountant, give me an example of a time when you came across questionable accounting practices. How did you handle the situation?
  71. Teamwork:

  72. Describe a situation where your colleagues disagreed with your ideas. What did you do?
  73. Tell me about a time when a colleague was not doing his share of work. What did you do?
  74. Describe a situation in which you found your supervisor’s idea was not correct, what action did you take?
  75. Planning and Organization:

  76. Give an example of what you’ve done when your project plan was interrupted by unforeseen circumstances.
  77. Describe a time when you had many projects due at the same time. What steps did you take to get them all done?
  78. Motivation:

  79. Give examples of your experiences in a job that were satisfying. Give examples of your experiences that were dissatisfying.
  80. Describe a situation when you were able to have a positive influence on the actions of others.
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