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How to Answer 11 Common Behavioral Interview Questions

Part 1Why Employers Use Behavioral Interview Questions

Behavioral interview questions are designed to help employers gauge how candidates might react in certain situations based on their past behavior.

Employers use behavioral questions because they believe past behavior is an excellent predictor of future performance. By understanding how you’ve handled situations in the past, they can better determine your fit for the role and the company culture. These types of questions typically start with phrases like “Tell me about a time when…” or “Describe a situation where…”

There are also situational interview questions that usually begin with “Imagine you’re in this situation…” or “What would you do if…?”. Learn more: How to Answer 9 Common Situational Interview Questions

Skills and Qualities Assessed

Behavioral interview questions can assess various skills and qualities depending on the job requirements. Some common skills and qualities assessed through these questions include:

  • Communication: Your ability to convey information clearly and concisely to others.
  • Teamwork: How effectively you collaborate with team members on projects and tasks.
  • Problem-solving: Your approach to identifying and addressing challenges in your work.
  • Adaptability: How you handle change and adapt to new situations.
  • Conflict resolution: Your ability to manage conflicts and resolve differences in a professional manner.
  • Decision-making: Your process for making decisions and weighing options.
  • Leadership: Your ability to motivate, guide, and inspire others.

Identifying Key Skills and Qualities

Before attending an interview, review the job description and list the required skills and qualities. Evaluate your past work experiences and decide which situations demonstrate those skills. This will allow you to systematically express why you are a suitable candidate for the position.

Part 2How to Use the STAR Method to Answer Behavioral Interview Questions

The STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) is a helpful tool for structuring your responses to behavioral interview questions. Begin by describing the situation you encountered, followed by the task you needed to accomplish. Then explain the action you took to address the situation and the result of your actions.

Description
S Situation: Set the scene
T Task: Explain the challenge you faced
A Action: Detail the steps you took to address it
R Result: Share the outcome

Example:

Question: “Can you tell me about a time when you had to overcome a difficult challenge in the workplace?”

Answer:

Situation:Sure, I remember a time when I was working on a project for a client, and we were facing a tight deadline. One of my team members unexpectedly had to take a leave of absence, leaving us short-staffed.”

Task:As a result, I had to step up and take on some of their responsibilities in addition to my own.”

Action: “I immediately took stock of the situation and prioritized the tasks that needed to be completed. I also communicated with the rest of my team to ensure that everyone was aware of the changes and that we were all on the same page. I then worked long hours and weekends to ensure that we met the deadline.”

Result: “As a result of my actions, we were able to complete the project on time and to the client’s satisfaction. My team members were also appreciative of my efforts and we were able to build stronger relationships as a result.”

This answer demonstrates your ability to take initiative, prioritize tasks, communicate effectively, and work collaboratively with your team to overcome a difficult challenge in the workplace.

Crafting Your Anecdotes

Develop a series of concise, engaging anecdotes that highlight your accomplishments, skills, and experiences. Be sure to tailor your stories to the job description by focusing on situations that demonstrate the required skills. Practice these anecdotes to become more comfortable sharing them during your interview.

Remember to keep your anecdotes brief, relevant, and truthful. Use a confident, knowledgeable, neutral, and clear tone of voice as you share your experiences.

Part 3Common Behavioral Interview Questions

By reflecting on your past experiences, you’ll be better equipped to confidently address these behavioral interview questions during an interview.

  • Can you describe a time when you had to work under pressure?
  • Tell me about a time you had to deal with a difficult coworker and how you handled it.
  • How have you handled a tight deadline in the past?
  • Can you give an example of when you had to collaborate with team members who had different opinions?
  • Describe a situation where you had to make a difficult decision at work.
  • How do you manage your time and prioritize tasks when working on multiple projects simultaneously?
  • Can you provide an example of when you went above and beyond to deliver a project or help a client?
  • Have you ever had to deliver bad news or negative feedback to a colleague? How did you approach this situation?
  • Share an instance in which you had to take a calculated risk to achieve a goal.
  • How do you stay organized and maintain attention to detail in your work?
  • Describe a time when you had to adapt to a significant change at work.
  • Can you discuss a situation where you faced an ethical dilemma and how you dealt with it?
  • Tell me about a time you failed at a task or project – what did you learn from it?
  • Explain how you’ve utilized your problem-solving skills in the workplace.
  • Share an example of when you had to deal with competing priorities.
  • How do you demonstrate leadership and motivate team members?
  • Can you describe a time when you had to persuade someone to agree with your idea or decision?
  • Tell me about a time when you made a mistake and had to take responsibility for it.
  • How do you handle conflict resolution in a professional setting?
  • Describe a situation where you had to deal with ambiguity.
  • Can you discuss a time when you proactively identified a problem and implemented a solution?
  • Tell me about a situation when you had to manage a project with limited resources.
  • How do you go about delegating tasks to team members?
  • Describe an instance where you had to learn a new skill or technology quickly to meet a deadline or goal.
  • How do you handle constructive criticism?
  • Share an example of when you took the initiative to improve a process or workflow at work.
  • Can you describe a time when you had to use your communication skills to resolve a misunderstanding or miscommunication?
  • Tell me about an instance when you had to develop a rapport with a new team member or client quickly.
  • How do you manage stress and maintain a work-life balance?
  • Describe a time when you worked as part of a diverse team and what you learned from that experience.
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These questions aim to uncover your skills, experience, and most importantly, your ability to navigate various situations in the workplace.

Part 4How to Answer 11 Common Behavioral Interview Questions

  1. Describe a time you faced a tight deadline. How did you manage your time?
    Your answer can highlight your ability to prioritize tasks, allocate extra time for critical projects, and utilize resources efficiently to ensure timely completion of your work.
  2. Describe a difficult decision you had to make in the workplace. How did you tackle it?
    Emphasize your ability to consult with relevant stakeholders, analyze data, and weigh the pros and cons of each option before making a well-reasoned decision.
  3. Describe a time when you had to adapt to a significant change at work. How did you manage it?
    Your answer should show your resilience and flexibility by talking about how you stayed composed during the transition, embraced the change, and sought training or resources when needed.
  4. Describe a moment when you had to exhibit leadership during a challenging situation.
    Your answer should emphasize the qualities of strong leadership: clear communication, confidence, setting and achieving goals, and inspiring your team to overcome the challenge.
  5. Have you ever dealt with a manager who gave unclear instructions? How did you resolve the situation?
    You might mention politely asking for clarification, paraphrasing their instructions to ensure understanding, and suggesting ways to improve communication in the future.
  6. Describe a time when you had to step out of your comfort zone at work. How did you handle it?
    Your response could focus on your willingness to take risks, learn from new experiences, and adapt to new situations while maintaining your commitment to your job.
  7. Have you ever had to work with an uncooperative coworker? How did you approach the situation?
    You could discuss the importance of understanding their perspectives, finding common ground, and fostering collaboration to achieve the best results for the team.
  8. Describe a time when you had to persuade someone to see things your way. What tactics did you employ?
    Mention your ability to listen, provide facts and data to support your argument, and demonstrate empathy while focusing on the benefits of your approach for all parties involved.
  9. Describe a time when you had to multitask. How did you manage multiple priorities?
    Discuss your use of time management techniques, such as creating to-do lists, setting goals, and delegating tasks when necessary, to ensure you effectively managed multiple priorities.
  10. Describe a time when you voluntarily took on additional responsibilities. How did you manage the extra workload?
    Your answer should showcase your proactive nature, time management skills, and ability to step up when needed while ensuring your primary tasks remain a high priority.
  11. Have you ever had to make a decision with limited information? How did you handle it?
    You could mention how you relied on intuition, sought input from others, and were prepared to change plans when new information became available.

Example Answers to Common Behavioral Interview Questions

Part 5Conflict Resolution: Best Answers

“Can you share an example of how you dealt with a conflict among team members?”

1. “In a previous role, I was part of a team that had a disagreement about the best approach to a project. To resolve the conflict, I scheduled a meeting with all team members to discuss their concerns and perspectives. I encouraged open and honest communication and facilitated a productive discussion. We were able to reach a compromise that everyone was happy with, and we successfully completed the project on time and within budget.”

2. “I once encountered a conflict among team members who had different ideas on how to prioritize tasks. To resolve the conflict, I scheduled a team meeting to discuss the issue and understand each team member’s perspective. I then worked with the team to develop a prioritization plan that incorporated everyone’s input. By doing so, we were able to reach a consensus and successfully complete the project on time.”

3. “In a previous role, I encountered a conflict among team members who had different work styles and were struggling to collaborate effectively. To address the issue, I scheduled a team-building exercise that focused on developing better communication and collaboration skills. Through this exercise, we were able to build stronger relationships and work more effectively as a team.”

 

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Part 6Managing Multiple Priorities: Best Answers

“Describe a situation where you had to manage multiple priorities. How did you handle it?”

1. “In my previous role, I was responsible for managing multiple projects with competing deadlines. I prioritized my tasks based on the level of importance and urgency. I also made sure to communicate with my team and stakeholders regularly to ensure everyone was aware of the progress and any potential issues. I was able to successfully complete all projects on time and within budget.”

2. “I once had to manage multiple priorities while working on a tight deadline. To handle this situation, I created a detailed project plan that outlined all tasks and deadlines. I then delegated tasks to team members based on their strengths and availability. I also made sure to communicate regularly with my team and stakeholders to ensure everyone was aware of the progress and any potential issues. By doing so, we were able to successfully complete the project on time and within budget.”

3. “In a previous role, I was responsible for managing multiple client accounts with different needs and priorities. I made sure to prioritize tasks based on the level of importance and urgency, and I also worked closely with my team to ensure that everyone was aware of the priorities and deadlines. By staying organized and focused, we were able to successfully meet all client needs and exceed their expectations.”

Part 7Adapting to Change: Best Answers

“Tell me about a time you had to adapt to a major change in the workplace.”

1. “In my previous role, our company underwent a major restructuring that resulted in changes to our team’s responsibilities and reporting structure. To adapt to this change, I took the initiative to learn about the new structure and my new role. I also worked closely with my team members to ensure a smooth transition. By embracing the change and being proactive, I was able to successfully adapt to the new workplace environment.”

2. “I once worked for a company that implemented a new technology platform that changed the way we worked. To adapt to this change, I took the initiative to learn about the new platform and its capabilities. I also worked closely with my team members to ensure that everyone was comfortable using the new technology. By being open-minded and proactive, I was able to successfully adapt to the new workplace environment.”

3. “In a previous role, I worked for a company that underwent a major shift in its business strategy. To adapt to this change, I took the initiative to learn about the new strategy and how it impacted my role. I was able to successfully adapt to the new workplace environment and contribute to the company’s success.”

Part 8Solving a Problem with Limited Resources: Best Answers

“Share your experience in solving a problem with limited resources.”

1. “In a previous role, I was tasked with managing a project with limited resources. I identified the critical tasks and prioritized them based on their importance. I also looked for creative solutions to reduce costs and increase efficiency, such as leveraging open-source software and outsourcing non-essential tasks. By being resourceful and strategic, I was able to successfully complete the project within budget and on time.”

2. “I once encountered a problem with limited resources while working on a marketing campaign. To solve this problem, I focused on the most impactful marketing channels and optimized them for maximum results. I also looked for ways to leverage existing content and repurpose it for different channels. I was able to successfully execute the campaign and exceed the client’s expectations.”

3. “In a previous role, I was responsible for managing a team with limited resources. To solve this problem, I first assessed the team’s strengths and identified areas for improvement. I then developed a training and development plan that focused on building the team’s skills and empowering them to take on more responsibilities. I also looked for ways to streamline processes and eliminate inefficiencies. We were able to successfully meet our goals.”

Part 9Leadership and Teamwork Behavioral Interview Answers

Question: Describe a time when you had to lead a team to achieve a goal. How did you motivate and guide them?
Answer: In my previous role as a project manager, I led a team of five to complete a critical deadline within three weeks. To motivate and guide the team, I held daily check-ins, ensured open communication, and celebrated small milestones.

Question: Can you share an example of how you demonstrated leadership skills when working with a group?
Answer: During a team-building activity, I noticed that our group lacked direction. I stepped up to coordinate tasks and assigned roles to each member based on their strengths, ultimately leading to a successful completion of the assignment.

Part 10Time Management and Organization Answers

Question: How do you prioritize tasks when faced with multiple urgent assignments?
Answer: I create a list of tasks, then rank each item based on importance, deadline, and effort. I tackle the high-priority assignments first, and also break them down into smaller tasks to make the workload manageable.

Question: Describe a situation where you had to juggle multiple responsibilities effectively. How did you handle it?
Answer: As a marketing coordinator, I was responsible for managing an event, creating social media content, and designing a newsletter at the same time. I used a project management tool to plan my tasks, set deadlines, and track progress. By staying organized and maintaining open communication with stakeholders, I efficiently completed all responsibilities.

Part 11Communication Behavioral Interview Answers

Question: Describe a time when you resolved a conflict between team members. What was your approach?
Answer: Two team members had a disagreement about project execution, leading to tension and delays. I facilitated a meeting for open discussion, allowing each party to express their concerns. After understanding both perspectives, I helped them reach a compromise that satisfied both and allowed the project to move forward.

Question: Can you share an example of how you improved communication within a team or with external stakeholders?
Answer: As a project lead, I noticed that emails between team members had created confusion and misinterpretation. I proposed implementing a communication platform for real-time collaboration, leading to improved communication and reduced response time among the team.

Part 12Tips: How to Answer Behavioral Interview Questions

Sharing Your Success Stories

When answering behavioral interview questions, start by sharing your success stories. Think of situations where you demonstrated initiative, made an impact, or solved a problem under pressure. Use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, and Result) to structure your response: briefly describe the situation, what your responsibility was, the actions you took, and the positive results that followed. Be concise and focus on the specific actions that demonstrate your abilities.

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Demonstrating Soft and Technical Skills

It’s essential to showcase both your soft and technical skills during behavioral interviews. To do this, include examples that highlight your communication, teamwork, leadership, and time management abilities, as well as your expertise in your field. Use specific anecdotes to show how you’ve applied these skills in real-life situations, and be prepared to explain how they have contributed to your success.

Discussing Conflicts and Failures

Not every behavioral interview question will focus on your successes. Some questions may ask about conflicts or failures you’ve experienced. It’s important to be honest and show how you’ve grown from these moments. Describe the situation, your role in it, and the steps you took to address the issue. Highlight the lessons you’ve learned and how you’ve applied them to improve in your role. Remember, it’s okay to discuss setbacks as long as you demonstrate a growth mindset and your ability to adapt.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I prepare for a behavioral competency-based interview?

To prepare for a behavioral competency-based interview, review the job description and identify the key competencies required for the role. Next, think of specific examples from your past experiences that demonstrate your ability to showcase these competencies. Practice using the STAR method to structure your answers and remember to be specific, concise, and honest.

What techniques can be used in preparation of behavioral interview questions?

Some techniques to prepare for behavioral interview questions are:

  1. Identify key competencies for the job role.
  2. Reflect on your past experiences and identify relevant examples.
  3. Structure your answers using the STAR method.
  4. Practice your responses out loud and with a friend or family member.
  5. Anticipate follow-up questions and prepare your responses accordingly.

Can you provide some examples of behavioral interview questions for freshers?

For freshers, interviewers may focus on questions related to teamwork, adaptability, or problem-solving, such as:

  1. Tell us about a group project you worked on during your studies.
  2. Describe a challenging situation you faced in college and how you overcame it.
  3. Explain how you have adapted to a new environment or situation.

What are some common behavioral questions for managerial positions?

Common behavioral questions for managerial positions can include:

  1. Describe a time when you had to deal with a conflict within your team.
  2. How have you successfully managed a large project or team in the past?
  3. Explain how you have motivated your team or an individual employee to achieve their goals.
  4. Tell us about a time when you had to make a difficult decision and its impact.

Preparation is key when it comes to tackling behavioral interview questions. To ensure you’re adequately equipped for the interview, familiarize yourself with some of the most common questions of this type, and take the time to reflect on your own experiences and how they relate to the position you’re applying for.

Related: How to Answer 9 Common Situational Interview Questions

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