10 Common Behavioral Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

One of the most integral parts of the job search process is nailing the interview. If you make it into a chair next to hiring managers, the answers you give in the job interview can have a major impact on whether or not you are hired. This is why it’s essential to be aware of the kind of questions to expect so you can excel.

Many companies today give interviews using behavioral interview questions. Because this is such a widespread method of asking questions, you should be prepared for it. Walking into the interview with the confidence that you can show your competency and skills will go a long way.

This guide will give you insight into what behavioral interview questions are and how they are unique from typical interview questions. In addition, we’ll share tips for how to answer any of these questions using a simple method. Finally, the guide will give you several common behavioral interview questions and how to best answer them.

What Are Behavioral Interview Questions?

Your first question might be “what is a behavioral interview?” These are specific interviews where the questions asked require a response that indicates how you act in certain situations. The idea behind behavioral interview questions is to find out your skill levels, determine how you react to stressful situations, and see how professional you are.

When an interviewer uses “tell me about a time” interview questions, it requires more than a simple answer. Almost everyone has an answer for what their greatest strengths and weaknesses are but some people have difficulty weaving a story into their answers.

One of the reasons behavioral interview questions work so well is because you need to have work experience and skills to answer them. Below are a few of the most common behavioral interview questions:

  • Tell me about a situation where you took a risk and it didn’t work out.
  • Can you describe a moment when you went above and beyond to help someone?
  • Describe a time when you solved a problem on the job that was beyond the scope of your job description.

Now that you’re aware of what behavioral questions for an interview are, we’ll share some insight into why recruiters and hiring managers use these inquiries. Then we’ll make sure you know the right way to answer any of these questions to make an interview less stressful.

Why Do Employers Ask Behavioral Based Interview Questions?

We touched on this earlier, but behavioral based interview questions and answers for interviews are extremely common since many believe they’re the best way to gauge your skills and abilities. Sometimes, the interview will be entirely behavioral questions for interview, while other times other interviewing techniques may also be a part of the process.

Harvard Business Review notes that about 80% of turnover is because of poor hiring decisions. This might be because someone hires the person they enjoyed talking to the most or because the right questions weren’t asked to ensure a potential employee would be a good fit in the workplace.

Using interview behavioral questions and answers gets more information about how you do different things through descriptions of past experiences. Instead of using simple common interview questions that require no more than a yes or no or a few words, behavioral interviews focus on experiences. You can also take a look at questions to ask in an interview for additional help.

10 Most Common Behavioral Interview Questions with Sample Answers

Now that you understand what behavioral interview questions are, you probably want advice about how to handle them in the best way possible. There is a standard method for how to answer behavioral interview questions that you can use. It’s called the STAR method.

When you answer the top behavioral interview questions, there is a simple way to do so that is structured and useful to keep in your mind. It works in four parts:

  • S stands for Situation – The first thing you want to do is describe the situation in which the rest of the answer occurred.
  • T stands for Task – Follow up by explaining the task you needed to finish so you could solve whatever issue was happening.
  • A stands for Action – Next, talk about what actions you took to complete the task in the situation you talked about.
  • R stands for Results – Finally, explain what happened in the situation when you acted while being as detailed as you can. Go into how your actions helped the organization or company function better based on what you did.

You can apply this method to any free sample behavioral interview questions and answers that you find on the Internet or elsewhere to practice. We offer a wide variety of examples of the best behavioral interview questions below that you can use to craft answers so you’re ready for your next spot in the interview room.

Communication Skills

Nearly every job involves some amount of communication, whether that’s written text, verbal conversation, nonverbal methods, listening, or visual communication. As such, an interviewer might want an example of a time when you communicated properly with a coworker, client, customer, or manager. Below are some examples of how these behavior questions for interviews might be worded and the best way to respond.

Tell me about a time when you successfully persuaded someone at a job to see things the way you do.

How to Answer This Question

As one of many job seekers, you want to make sure your answer fully satisfies the recruiter. The good news is that most of us have a lot of reasons to communicate at work so you can pull from those situations to craft an answer. You can find a sample answer below.

“I was working on a team that frequently communicated with other departments. A major client needed a new marketing strategy after the previous one failed. My team member and those on the other team had an argument about which of the two strategies should be used.

I recommended focusing on other work to let everyone cool down. When we came back together, both methods were discussed and I recommended we combine them. We created a strategy that both teams agreed on and it resulted in a boost in revenue for the client’s company.”

Give me an example of a time when you misunderstood one of your tasks at work.

How to Answer This Question

Past behavior can dictate the way you move forward and everyone knows mistakes happen. This question looks at how you would handle a situation where you misunderstood the instructions and ended up creating a positive outcome despite that. A positive ending is a must for this question, as well as others on the list.

“At an internship at my last company, I misunderstood how much time it would take to complete a project for a meeting. The deadline was two weeks away which seemed fine but I believed that was the date when we would go over the project before presenting it. Instead, it was the date when the project needed to be complete and presented.

I spoke with the manager about it as soon as I realized it and spent extra time to ensure the draft was complete. An initial meeting was held and the manager helped me ensure everything was perfect. The final project presentation went smoothly and helped the company move forward with a new initiative.”

Time Management Questions

Past experiences can also be useful in giving insight into how you handle other problems. Often, there are tasks in a time-sensitive position. The hiring manager wants to see that you have the problem-solving skills needed to handle those situations when things don’t go perfectly.

In the last long-term project you managed, how did you ensure things went completely smoothly?

How to Answer This Question

It can be a challenging situation to take track of a long-term project, but the STAR method lets you share your experiences. A hiring manager who asks this question wants to see how you manage this experience and ensure things go well across the entire course of the project.

“In a past position on the web development team, we were setting up a website for a major client. In most cases, we had a project map that was completed in two months but this project was much more detailed. Time management was essential to get things done even with a longer timetable.

I decided that planning everything out by week was the best answer. I consulted with the other team members and the work was split up across each stage. The deadline for the website was four months, but we were able to finish it in under three by being prepared.”

Describe a time when a supervisor gave you extra work without additional time and how you handled it.

How to Answer This Question

As usual, you want to go step by step through the process you used to handle a situation that could come up in any workplace. Consider a time you successfully managed a workload or otherwise dealt with the situation in a positive way. While this question is related to time management, your answer could also delve into communication and teamwork skills.

“I was a new hire at Company and workloads were different than expected. I was used to fast thinking but was having trouble with weekly reports and tasks at the end of onboarding. I was able to get things in on time but knew my quality would go down as more tasks were added.

I spoke with my manager about my work schedule and tasks. I stayed calm while explaining the large amount of work would affect quality. She was understanding and it turned out I was in a new position where they weren’t sure what would work. We worked together to define my responsibilities so I could do the best possible work with my time.”

Teamwork Abilities

Sometimes teamwork is easy, other times it can lead to a stressful situation. Hiring managers want to gauge how well you work in a team full of other people, especially those who are different from you. Even in a position where the job description doesn’t mention working on a team, it’s something that will likely come up from time to time. Knowing how to answer behavioral interview questions about it is essential.

Give me an example of a situation where a team member didn’t complete the work they were expected to do and what you did.

How to Answer This Question

Teamwork means working with people with various goals and skills. It’s not always going to be smooth sailing. A manager who asks this question is curious about how you would handle a situation where there is a conflict with a team member. This can also involve cultural fit in some situations and getting along with those you work with.

“I had a coworker at Agency who often turned in great work but it was always late. This was normally fine but we were put together to complete something very time-sensitive. We had to turn in a presentation to a manager to go over before handing it over to a client.

I started to check in to find out how the other person was doing with their part of the work from one day to the next. This wasn’t something he enjoyed but it did get him to be more efficient and quicker. The check-ins had a positive effect and the work was finished ahead of the deadline for the client.”

What did you do in the past when you had to collaboratively work with someone who was extremely different from yourself?

How to Answer This Question

Whether personal or work experience, everyone has had to do something with a person who is vastly different from them. This could be because you are of different ages, genders, experience levels, or another reason. Managers want you to show them that you have no problem working on projects with others, even if you don’t have a lot in common.

“I was working at my last job and a younger employee was brought in on a project to learn more about the typical process. I needed to know this person better so we could work together without problems. Being of different ages wasn’t an issue, but we had been trained in different ways so I had to find a way to communicate so he would understand.

Rather than teaching him my method, I helped him understand what was being used for the project and how to handle the tasks involved. I gave him tasks that taught him the things that would be useful on the job. It turned out he learned quickly and was part of a team faster than most. The project went off without a hitch.”

Adaptability Questions

Being adaptable and capable of decision-making under different situations is a must in many jobs. Some of the behavioral interview questions you experience will likely fall under this heading. When you build interview answers to questions like these, you want to show that you can handle different situations, processes, and practices.

When you started in this line of work, what was your first job and how did you become capable on the job?

How to Answer This Question

With these types of questions, a manager or supervisor wants to know how you are proactive and capable of taking the reins to become an asset to a company. Since this is a more specific behavioral interview question, you already know what situation to talk about and can focus on the rest of the information you want to convey.

“My first job was as a junior engineer at Company. While I knew a lot about the field, my experience was low. This made it a difficult situation to get started with. I was doing a lot of work but getting less done than I thought was expected.

I took time out at home to learn more about the engineering process as it related to the job. I also spoke with other employees at work to learn more and get input on the tasks I was responsible for. After several months at the job, I better understood the role and was much more productive.”

When was the last time you needed to adapt to a major workplace change and what occurred?

How to Answer This Question

With the world moving at a rapid pace, workplaces often experience change. Since managers are highly aware of that, they may ask behavioral interview questions related to that. This is another way to gauge how you adapt to the workplace when things aren’t going the way they normally are.

“I was an account manager at Agency and there was a need to change our software and move the data elsewhere. The tool we were using didn’t scale and pricing was increasing. I was responsible for choosing a new tool while handling my regular tasks.

I spoke with sales associates to find out what features they wanted to have. Through research and communication, I was able to find a tool that did everything the new one did and more. I learned the tool quickly and made a video for the rest of the team. The transfer was completely ahead of time and the team was happy with the change.”

Leadership Qualities

When you go through the interview process, you may be asked about leadership qualities. This is especially likely if you are applying as a senior member of a team. Even if not, the interview method might take into account potential upward movement for someone who takes a position. It’s best to be prepared for these leadership behavioral interview questions.

Tell me about a time when you needed to work on a project you had no experience with. What was your process and what did you learn?

How to Answer This Question

Leaders should be capable of stepping in and helping when things change and this question looks at that. It could also act as an adaptability question at the same time. You want to ensure that you have an answer that shows how you handled the situation well and turned it into something positive

“In my past position at Organization, a manager needed to leave for a month due to a medical issue. He was able to give a week’s notice. I was asked to fill in and knew the basics but had no training for the position. I felt confident it was something I could handle so I agreed.

I brought in my team and let them know what was happening. I told them I was inexperienced and would be happy to receive feedback. I also had the chance to take a lunch and speak with the manager who was going on leave to get my question answered. I was able to get through the month without issues. Due to my success, I move into a team manager role within the year.”

Describe a time when you were successful in delegating tasks to team members.

How to Answer This Question

Delegation is an important skill for anyone in a leadership position and these behavioral interview questions for managers delve into how you have dealt with it in the past. As with all the other sample STAR questions, you want to describe a specific situation, task, and action that led to a result, which you also go into the details about.

“When I took my first leadership position, I quickly realized that I needed to know all the members of the team for delegation to be done smoothly. As many members were recruits, I didn’t have a lot of information to go from the start.

I made time to sit down with each person and get to know them. I learned about what they were good at and what their weaknesses were and used that to delegate tasks based on that knowledge. This meant the team members were happy with the work they were given and let us start with a positive relationship.”

Key Takeaways About Behavioral Interview Questions and Answers

Now that you know situational interview questions, you can come up with past experiences to pull from to answer questions eloquently and completely. The common behavioral interview questions listed here will give you a chance to brush up on your skills. You can also learn other interview tips to ensure you come off as professional and knowledgeable.

Once you make it through the process, make sure you send a thank you email after the interview. This keeps you on the hiring manager's mind and can tip you over the edge in terms of being favored for a position you want. Good luck out there chasing your dreams!

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