8 Most Asked Behavioral Interview Questions (With Best Answers)
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While behavioral interview questions have always been part of the equation for job seekers, they’ve recently seen somewhat of an uptick in occurrence and importance.
Behavioral interview questions are the types that lead to storytelling. They often begin with leading, open-ended prompts, such as, “Tell me about a time when…”
Such questions can strike fear into even the most confident of speakers, but they’re very important to the process.
Behavioral questions and answers can also let you show off your personality, highlight your best soft skills, show off your problem solving skills, and dig into why your experiences make you perfect for the job.
A well-answered behavioral question will make you really stand out from a pool of experienced candidates. No matter if you have a job interview on the horizon or are just at the beginning of your job search, getting familiar with behavioral interview questions is essential.
Preparing for behavioral interview questions can help you level up and land your dream job.
What Are Behavioral Interview Questions?
Behavioral interview questions invite candidates to share specific examples of them using particular skills and handling different kinds of scenarios. They allow the potential employer to understand how your past work experience has prepared you well for future tasks and challenges.
Common openers to behavioral interview questions include:
- What do you do when…
- Have you ever…
- Describe a time when…
- What experience do you have with…
These types of questions can feel stressful if you’re not prepared, so it’s imperative that before your next job interview, you give serious thought to potential behavioral interview questions and answers.
Why Are Behavioral Interview Questions Popular?
Many companies prefer behavioral questions in interviews because they shed light on how the candidate has dealt with specific situations they may face again. Asking someone to tell a personal story also gives the hiring manager a better understanding of someone’s real personality rather than how well they have rote-learned outstanding answers to traditional interview questions.
Don’t forget that if you’ve already been asked extensive questions about your hard skills, second interview questions might focus more on your soft skills such as problem-solving and communication skills!
Like so much of our lives, our past behaviors are most predictive of our future behaviors.
According to Jewel von Kempf, head of Head of People at Coinme, there’s a reason why behavioral interview questions are so popular in job interviews.
Over the years, I have used behavioral questions in interviews to identify behavior patterns, establish if the candidate is a team fit and possibly predict future performance. I have also found these questions helpful as they add a personal element to each interview. Behavioral questions allow the interviewer to get to know the candidate on a more authentic, experience-based, and often relatable level.
In addition, since behavioral questions are more specific than traditional questions, they allow the candidate to highlight potential growth, emotional intelligence and a match for company values.
She goes on to acknowledge that for the job-seeker, the process might feel a bit daunting; however, HR personnel and hiring managers are often aware of this discomfort and do their best to smooth the way.
For some, the probing aspect of behavioral questions can be uncomfortable. We try to make them as simple and “natural” as possible by encouraging our candidates to take the time they need to think about their answers. We ensure a purpose for each question asked and that the interviewee can see how that question correlates to the job and our company values. We also train our interviewers to actively listen to each candidate’s response, keep an open mind and be aware of any bias they might have. As part of our active listening, we ask candidates follow-up.
Fortunately, you don’t have to approach this aspect of the interview unprepared. There are tools and resources available to get you on the right track.
Using the STAR Method in Job Interviews
The best method for answering behavioral interview questions is using the STAR interview method, a tactic easily remembered by its S.T.A.R acronym.
The STAR Method provides a skeleton to which you can attach a meaningful and genuine story that not only answers the question, but also shows off your communication skills, logic, and quick thinking.
The STAR method stands for:
- Situation: Set the scene and give the necessary details to answer the question.
- Task: Describe what your responsibility was and what the goal was in that situation.
- Action: Explain what steps you took to address or achieve it.
- Result: Share what outcomes your actions achieved, try and include measurable examples.
With the STAR Method in your toolbelt, you’ll be ready for any behavioral interview question thrown your way.
Common Behavioral Interview Questions with Sample Answers
The following common behavioral interview questions are applicable across a range of industries. They’ve been broken down into what sort of information the interviewer is looking for when asking that particular question as well as some of the possible ways each question can be answered.
Obviously, your own experiences are what really count here, and our sample answers cannot account for that. Still, the following examples will give you a strong base from which to build your own answers to common behavioral interview questions.
1. Have you ever faced a conflict while working in a team? What did you do?
This question will show your potential employer how you deal with difficult team dynamics and what your method is in dealing with it.
When answering this question, be sure your answer shows that you
- Recognize that all teams can have problems
- That you have the ability to work with others even under challenging circumstances
- That you’ve developed tactics to listen to all sides of the argument
- That you are able to act and react objectively
Sample Answer: When I was working on a cross-team project, there were issues with one working group continually failing to meet their deadlines. But instead of taking responsibility, they blamed another group for sabotaging their work. The Slack channel got quite ugly. I called a meeting and allowed each person a set amount of time to outline their main grievances. Once everyone realized what the exact struggles everyone was experiencing, it was easier to work together to develop new strategies for setting achievable deadlines. The crucial thing here was ensuring that everyone felt heard and that I could help my team communicate with each other using objective language.
2. Describe a time when you were managing multiple responsibilities. How did you handle that?
Being able to manage multiple deadlines, team structures, and your own tasks is obviously crucial for any job.
This question gives you the opportunity to show that you can
- Use industry-specific tools
- Possess good communication tactics
- Know how to delegate work efficiently
Sample Answer: Last year my direct manager went on maternity leave. There was a three-week gap between her departure and her replacement. I took on her tasks in addition to mine. Initially, I felt quite overwhelmed by having all these extra responsibilities. But I was able to develop really structured daily plans by utilizing online tools such as Asana, and set really clear daily deadlines with my colleagues. By the end of the three weeks, I was excelling at managing my time and meeting all the required deadlines. I learned to manage my time in a way that allowed me to take on additional responsibility without experiencing any drop in quality. Once the replacement took over, I found I was far more efficient in my own work areas and could then use my extra time to develop a new onboarding process that once implemented saved our team a lot of time.
3. Tell me about a time when you went above the norm to deliver great service to a customer.
If the position you are going for has any kind of client-facing aspect, it’s critical to demonstrate the respect you have for your clients while highlighting how it was your actions that saved the interaction or sale. Be sure to explain the type of client you were working with, and what you learned from the experience, no matter if it was positive or negative.
Sample Answer: A client came to me after asking to switch client managers due to a conflict. They were defensive from the first point of contact and I realized immediately I needed to gain their trust. I asked them out for a lunch meeting and asked them to explain to me their bigger company goals. They shared with me the very personal story of the company’s beginning and how its success is much more about fulfilling a family legacy than financial gain. By giving them the space to see how much was at stake for them, I could really earn their trust which set up a really productive working relationship. The project went really well and they ended up referring several other major clients for us.
4. Tell me about a time you failed. What did you do to deal with the situation?
A behavioral twist on the classic “what is your weakness” question, this line of inquiry requires you to dive into the silver lining of a tough episode. Potential employees want to see how you can reflect on adversity and learn from past experiences.
With questions about past failures, it’s vital that you always add a twist at the end, pivoting to show that although the situation was a failure in the moment, what you learned through that failure has made you wiser.
Sample Answer: I was managing a project for a new client whom we were eager to impress. I told them they would have the product in two weeks, but it ended up taking longer. Even though I could communicate the change in delivery without too much trouble, it was a huge learning curve for me. I now recognize that it is better to give a slightly longer delivery period and then deliver early than disappoint by having to push the delivery date back.
5. Tell me about a time you were dissatisfied with your work. What could you have done to make it better?
As with the question above, you must be up front about a time you were dissatisfied with yourself while still remembering to include information at the end to show that through it all, you’ve learned and grown.
Sample Answer: A few years ago, I was a writer at Company Y, when I had to create some content for a company whose campaign I felt bordered on sexist. I completed the work anyway, but felt uncomfortable about my part in it and really struggled to bring my best to the table. We got the campaign done, but the whole team struggled to work well together, partly due to my unspoken annoyance and discomfort. This experience taught me a valuable lesson to share my views with my colleagues and to try and figure out a way to be my true self rather than hide it and disrupt workflow with passive energy. I now implement a time for workshopping each campaign to ensure that everyone is comfortable and motivated to produce the necessary content. This open space for communication really brought our team together and increased the quality of your work.
6. Describe a time when your team or company was undergoing some major change. How did you adapt, and how did it impact you?
Pick an example where a change directly affected your job. In your answer, display an understanding that change is a welcome part of all contemporary workplaces and that you have the resilience and resources to adapt easily and with a positive attitude.
Sample Answer: Late last year, my team transitioned from the office to fully remote positions. I actually maintained a place in the office with the option of remote but lost my daily team. In the beginning, I was really angry and felt that the management had failed to recognize the importance of us sharing a workspace. But after some reflection, I was able to see how the loss of my team could be an advantage. I reorganized my work weeks so that I was choosing to work when it suited my personal productivity cycle instead of being stuck to the whims of the team. I organized for us to meet up one afternoon a week in a coworking space so we could still enjoy our team dynamics without some of the distractions I hadn’t realized we were creating. I also took a work-away vacation to Croatia, something I would never have considered before the transition. This really increased my respect for my managers that they trusted me to get my work down without looking over my shoulder.
7. Tell me about a time when you had to rely on written communication to explain your ideas to your team.
Being able to communicate using a variety of different methods is essential. This question allows your potential employee to understand how well you can work with limited resources. Prepare various answers that best fit the position you are interviewing for.
Sample Answer: In my last position, I worked in an international office. I noticed that not everyone was contributing to our regular feedback and brainstorming sessions. These usually consisted of people being asked to verbally respond to provocations about our procedures and projects. On reflection, I realized that this was likely because some people in our team were shy about speaking in English in front of a large group of their colleagues. I changed the format of the feedback so that people could choose to either contribute verbally, through writing a post-it note or even using emoji-type stickers to express their reactions to certain things. By giving more options for communicating, we experienced a much larger cross-section of people contributing and our project processes improved exponentially when everyone was able to share their thoughts and offer their ideas.
8. Tell me about a time you set a goal for yourself. How did you go about ensuring that you would meet your objective?
Questions about motivations are key to helping potential employers understand you.
- What is it that keeps you going and excited about your job?
- How do you envisage your future and how driven are you to get there?
Align this answer to your potential future workplace by researching any training or mentorship programs they have and include these details in your answer.
Sample Answer: When I started at my last company we were relying heavily on three long-term customers for 80% of our work. While we were doing okay, I could see the risk if any one of these companies left. I made it my mission to diversify our client base to increase our security as well as tap into new markets. This idea wasn’t fully supported by my manager at the time, so I had to work without much assistance in the beginning. Twelve months into the job, I had managed to secure four more large ongoing clients that meant we would remain viable even if two of our regulars would leave suddenly. Three months later, two of our major clients merged and left us. But thanks to our more diverse portfolio, we were able to weather the storm. It felt great to know that my actions and forward-thinking were what saved the company in this tough time. I still look back on this time with pride.
Approaching Behavioral Interview Questions and Answers
As you can see, in approaching different types of behavioral interview questions and answers, you can always find a way to answer honestly while still putting your best foot forward and showing your value as a potential future employee.
To make sure you’re ready
- Research different types of common behavioral interview questions
- Think through how you might strategically answer the most common ones
- Recruit friends to hold a mock interview in which you practice your answers aloud
This system can prove quite helpful in preparing for your next job interview.
Teamwork, Time Management, and Other Important Emphases
No matter which behavioral interview questions you face, make sure that as you answer them, you cover some of the most important concepts that hiring managers are looking to evaluate
- Time Management
- Critical thinking
Keeping these core traits in mind will help you shape your answers in the most helpful way.
Access More Answers with Lensa
Behavioral interview questions and answers aren’t the only topics we cover. We have the tools and resources to prepare you with sample answers for many different types of interview questions. To learn more, start with our complete guide on interview questions and answers.