Common Behavioral Interview Questions and How To Answer Them

June 10, 2021

A behavioural interview helps an employer gauge your skills, abilities, performance and suitability for a role. Behavioural interview questions may demand in-depth answers and interviewees may have to provide specific examples when giving answers. Knowing how to respond to behavioural interview questions can help you make a powerful impression on employers and increase your chances of getting hired. In this article, we discuss the common types of behavioural questions and share tips to help you answer them.

What are behavioural interview questions?

Behavioural interview questions help interviewers understand how you handle common work-related scenarios and issues. The interviewer typically wants to know how you apply your key skills, abilities and traits to your work. Consider providing examples to support your statements to ensure they're concrete and specific. Behavioural interviews help employers evaluate the thought processes, strategies and capabilities of a candidate.

Related: Job Interview Tips: How to Make a Great Impression

Types of behavioural interview questions

Behavioural questions fall under different categories, each relating to common workplace situations. Here are some types of behavioural interview questions to know:

Teamwork and interpersonal relationship behavioural interview questions

In companies, teamwork can lead to effective productivity levels. The importance of teamwork and collaboration means employers want individuals that can work with a team to achieve results. Provide examples of how you either participated in a group project or led a team to achieve a set goal. Focus on interpersonal conflicts that you solved as a team leader.

Here are some common behavioural interview questions relating to teamwork and interpersonal relationships:

  1. Have you ever had to work with co-workers of different personalities? How did you handle the scenario?
  2. Describe a time where internal disputes threatened to stall your team's progress. How did you handle that?
  3. Have you been able to motivate a team or co-worker to achieve a goal?
  4. Share an example of how you contributed to changes in work culture.
  5. What is your biggest achievement as a team leader?

Motivational behavioural interview questions

Behavioural interview questions are often used to measure your motivation and determine whether you're a good fit for the company. Interviewers may use these questions to determine whether you a motivated individual who can achieve results or incentives before taking action.

Below are some motivation-related questions:

  1. What do you enjoy most about what you do?
  2. How do you manage to stay motivated even if your job requires repetitive tasks?
  3. What motivates you to achieve results at work?
  4. Provide an example of how you set milestones for yourself.

Related: Interview Question: 'Tell Me About Yourself'

Communication skills behavioural interview questions

After teamwork, communication is another important area in business. Most roles require you to regularly communicate with co-workers, managers and possibly, clients. Given the key role of communication in business activities, most employers often want team members who can communicate effectively. Convey clear and comprehensive messages to demonstrate your communication abilities.

Below is a list of behavioural interview questions related to communication skills:

  1. Give an example of a situation where you had to persuade individuals or managers to support a project.
  2. Tell me how you handled a situation where you had to explain a complex process to colleagues or clients?
  3. Have you ever had to communicate with a frustrating co-worker? How did you handle it?
  4. Describe situations where you made an unpopular decision and relied on communication skills to build support.

Flexibility behavioural interview questions

Considering the dynamics of many industries, most companies build strategies to keep up with the progress of competitors. Most employers search for flexible employees and managers who are ready to handle any unexpected challenges that arise. These behavioural questions typically focus on your ability to adapt to unexpected or fast-paced workplace situations.

Here are some behavioural questions related to flexibility:

  1. Describe your first job experience. What was your process for learning how to complete your tasks?
  2. Share examples of situations where you had to adjust your leadership or work style to suit the current circumstances.
  3. Describe a project or task that required creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. How did you approach it?
  4. Tell me how you reacted to a big change at work and what you did to adapt to the new provisions.

How to prepare for a behavioural interview

Here are steps to help you prepare for your behavioural interview:

1. Research commonly asked questions

Before the interview, conduct online research to find common behavioural interview questions. There are resources that may provide common questions and tips on how to craft proper answers. You can typically find similar questions to what the employer might ask to help you prepare for the upcoming interview.

Related: Common Interview Questions and Answers

2. Implement the STAR technique

Most behavioural interview questions involve the employer providing a specific work-related scenario and asking how you handled it. You can use the star technique to help you develop an appropriate answer. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result.

When crafting answers using the STAR technique, you start by briefly explaining the situation and providing some context. This is where you expose the interviewer to the challenge or problem. The next step is to explain your task or role in the situation. State your contribution to solving the problem. Discuss the actions you took to handle the situation. Mention the specific decisions you made considering the challenging situation. Finally, discuss the results. Try to give clear, quantifiable examples when discussing results.

3. Practice answers

Try practising your answers before the interview to look and feel prepared. Craft answers to common questions that you can use during the actual interview. Consider thinking of skills you've used in the past or situations when you've performed effectively and be ready to use them as examples during the interview. Ask friends, family or colleagues to practice with you or rehearse in front of a mirror to ensure you look and act professionally throughout the interview.

Related: How To Write a Follow-Up Email After an Interview

Best answers for behavioural interview questions

Here are examples of effective answers to common behavioural interview questions:

Tell me about a time when you had to collaborate with a coworker whose personality greatly differed from yours.

Employers typically value candidates who can effectively communicate and remain professional with all team members in every situation. Detail your process for handling any disagreements with coworkers by demonstrating your ability to remain professional and fair as you come to a solution.

Example: My supervisor once asked me to brainstorm and present project ideas with a coworker who regularly pitched ideas that were the opposite of mine. We decided to each create our own separate lists, then share them with one another. We then selected each other's top ideas and worked together to shape them into shared ones we knew our supervisor would enjoy the most.

Have you ever struggled to meet a client's expectations for a project? How did you handle the situation?

Most employers understand that meeting clients' expectations can be challenging. They typically ask this question to understand how you approach this feedback and apply it toward improvements for the project. Demonstrate your ability to accept client input and how you work to create a final product clients enjoy.

Example: My previous client provided me with little details on an upcoming project they asked me to complete. I created the project using the knowledge I had and delivered an outcome they were unsatisfied with, so I asked them to provide me with details on what they disliked about the project. I used these comments to add improvements, which resulted in a final project that impressed them.

Describe a time when you were under significant pressure to complete a project within a tight deadline.

There may be moments when you're asked to submit a quality project quickly. Employers want to understand how well you can act under high-pressure deadlines. Share an example that explains your process for remaining decisive, rational and organized when asked to submit a task within a tight deadline.

Example: My team and I were creating an advertisement for a client that we were planning to originally release in a few weeks. Their competitors released one that day, which caused the client to urgently request us to complete ours in two days. I made the project top priority, met with the creative team and arranged for the digital ad to run ahead of schedule. We successfully launched the ad on time.

What are the top 10 behavioural questions in an interview?

Here are the top 10 behavioural questions in an interview:

  1. Explain an achievement you reached that you're particularly proud of and your process for accomplishing it.
  2. What's your process for prioritizing certain tasks over others?
  3. Do you have a system for handling multiple responsibilities in one day? Provide an example of when you once used this system.
  4. Describe your process for staying regularly updated on the progress of multiple projects.
  5. Has an unexpected challenge occurred that required you to respond quickly? Describe this situation.
  6. Describe a time when you had to make a difficult decision and how you came to that solution.
  7. What's your process for working under pressure to complete a task on time?
  8. How do you set goals for yourself and ensure you achieve them?
  9. Tell me about a time when you completed mundane tasks but still kept yourself motivated.
  10. What do you do when you have to describe complex topics using simple terminology?


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