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What are bahavioural interview questions?

Reading Time: 8 minutes

The job interview process can be nerve-wracking for any candidate, but perhaps even more so for those who are asked behavioral interview questions. These types of questions are designed to assess a candidate’s qualifications, skills, and work style by asking them to describe specific examples of past behavior in order to predict how they may behave in the future in a similar situation.

Behavioral questions are becoming increasingly popular in the hiring process because they provide valuable information about a candidate that may not be revealed through other types of questions. They allow interviewers to gather specific examples of a candidate’s skills and experiences, which can help them determine whether the candidate is qualified for the job. Additionally, by asking about specific examples from the candidate’s past, the interviewer can gain a better understanding of how the candidate is likely to handle similar situations in the future.

But for many candidates, these types of questions can be difficult to answer, especially if they are not prepared. That’s why it’s so important for candidates to prepare for behavioral questions in advance of the interview

Table of Contents

What are behavioral interview questions?

Business woman looking out over the city skyline

Behavioral interview questions are a type of interview question that ask the candidate to describe specific examples of past behavior in order to predict how they may behave in the future in a similar situation. These questions are often framed in the format of “Tell me about a time when…”, and are designed to uncover a candidate’s skills, experiences, and attitudes that are relevant to the job they are applying for. Examples of behavioral interview questions include: “Tell me about a time when you had to work on a team project under a tight deadline,” or “Can you give an example of a difficult problem you solved in your previous job?”

Why do interviewers ask behavioral questions?

Face to face interview in the office

Interviewers ask behavioral questions for a number of reasons:

  1. To assess a candidate’s qualifications: Behavioral questions allow interviewers to gather specific examples of a candidate’s skills and experiences, which can help them determine whether the candidate is qualified for the job.
  2. To predict future behavior: As mentioned, behavioral questions are based on the idea that a candidate’s past behavior is a good indicator of their future behavior. By asking about specific examples from the candidate’s past, the interviewer can gain a better understanding of how the candidate is likely to handle similar situations in the future.
  3. To evaluate problem-solving and decision-making skills: Behavioral questions often ask candidates to describe situations where they had to solve problems or make decisions. This allows interviewers to evaluate the candidate’s ability to analyze information, identify issues, and come up with solutions.
  4. To evaluate soft skills: Behavioral questions can also be used to assess a candidate’s soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, and leadership.
  5. To get a sense of how the candidate will fit in the company culture: Behavioral questions also help interviewer to understand how the candidate’s personality, work ethic, and values align with the company’s culture.

Overall, behavioral interview questions are a powerful tool for interviewers to gain a better understanding of a candidate’s qualifications, skills, and work style, which can help them make more informed hiring decisions.

What are the most common behavioral questions asked?

Handshake following successful interview

  1. Tell me about a time when you had to work on a team project under a tight deadline.
  2. Can you give an example of a difficult problem you solved in your previous job?
  3. Describe a situation when you had to handle a difficult customer and how did you handle it?
  4. Can you tell me about a time when you had to make a difficult decision?
  5. Can you give an example of a situation where you had to adapt to a change at work?
  6. Can you tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to complete a project?
  7. Describe a situation when you had to work with a difficult coworker and how did you handle it?
  8. Can you tell me about a time when you had to learn a new skill quickly?
  9. Describe a situation when you had to present a complex idea to a group of people?
  10. Can you give an example of a situation when you had to work under pressure?

It’s worth noting that the specific behavioral questions will depend on the role and the company. Interviewers usually tailor their questions to align with the specific skills and qualifications required for the job and the company culture.

How to prepare for behavioral questions?

    1. Review common behavioral questions: Review common behavioral questions and think of specific examples from your past experiences that demonstrate the skills the interviewer is looking for.
    2. Use the STAR method: STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. It’s a widely used method to structure a response to behavioral questions.
    3. Be honest: Be honest and authentic when answering behavioral questions. Don’t exaggerate or make up examples.
    4. Tailor your response: Tailor your examples to the specific job you’re applying for, highlighting how your past experiences align with the skills and qualifications required for the role.
    5. Use positive language: Use positive language and talk about successes rather than failures. If the question is about a difficult situation, focus on what you learned from it and how you overcame it.
    6. Practice: Practice answering behavioral questions with a friend or family member. This will help you feel more comfortable and confident when answering these questions in the interview.

How do you answer behavioural questions?

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When answering behavioral interview questions, it’s important to provide specific examples from your past experiences. Here’s a general structure you can follow to answer these types of questions:

  1. Situation: Start by describing the situation or task you were faced with. Be specific and give enough context for the interviewer to understand the situation.
  2. Action: Describe the actions you took to address the situation. Be specific and focus on what you did, rather than what your team or others did.
  3. Result: Describe the outcome of your actions. Be specific and quantifiable if possible.

It’s also important to keep in mind the following tips:

  • Practice: Prepare for the interview by reviewing common behavioral questions and thinking of specific examples from your past experiences that demonstrate the skills the interviewer is looking for.
  • Use the STAR method: STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result. It’s a widely used method to structure a response to behavioral questions.
  • Be honest: Be honest and authentic when answering behavioral questions. Don’t exaggerate or make up examples.
  • Tailor your response: Tailor your examples to the specific job you’re applying for, highlighting how your past experiences align with the skills and qualifications required for the role.
  • Use positive language: Use positive language and talk about successes rather than failures. If the question is about a difficult situation, focus on what you learned from it and how you overcame it.
  • Keep it concise and to the point: Avoid rambling or providing too much information. Keep your response concise and to the point, focusing on the main points.

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Here’s an example of how you might answer the question “Can you give an example of a difficult problem you solved in your previous job?” using the STAR method:

Situation: “In my previous job as a customer service representative, we received a lot of complaints from customers about long wait times on hold. This was causing a high level of customer dissatisfaction and impacting our overall customer satisfaction ratings.”

Action: “I analyzed the data and found that the majority of the complaints were coming from customers who were placed on hold for more than 5 minutes. I proposed a solution to my manager to add more staff during peak hours, and also suggested a new system of call routing that would reduce the time customers spent on hold.”

Result: “After implementing these changes, we saw a significant reduction in customer complaints and an increase in customer satisfaction ratings. The wait times on hold were reduced by an average of 2 minutes, which made a big difference to our customers.”

It is worth noting that Behavioral questions can be tricky and it’s important to answer them thoughtfully, with specific examples and results in mind. Practice makes perfect and by preparing beforehand, you’ll be better equipped to answer them in the interview.

Are you interested in improving your interviewing skills?

Dave Crumby

I have spent the last 10 years supporting companies ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies to find and the best talent around the world.  

During this time, I have:

✔️ Scanned and reviewed more than 26000 CVs.

✔️ Conducted over 7000 interviews.

✔️ Secured new jobs and promotions in 20 countries across 3 continents.

For the past 4 years I have been developing best practices and solutions to give job seekers more confidence in interviews.  I run 1:1 virtual interview workshops which show you how to articulate your values and strengths.  Just like in sport, perfect practice makes perfect interviewing.  Learn how to take on any interview with confidence with My Interview Workshop:

  • Successful Interview techniques & strategy session.
  • 1 X mock interview.
  • Feedback, recommendations, and reflections session.

Are you interested in working with me?

Email me today.

Best of luck,

Dave Crumby

Your Career Optimiser | Certified Leadership and Management Consultant

Winner of Most Supportive Career Branding Service 2022

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