10 Common Behavioral Interview Questions You Should Prepare For

By Predictive Success  |  

6.6 min read

I If you’ve ever had a job interview, chances are you’ve been asked some behavioral interview questions. These are common Behavioural Assessment questions used by all types of companies in their recruitment process. They help employers get a sense of how you behaved in certain situations at your past workplaces.

What are behavioral interview questions?

Behavioral interview questions reveal how you handled different work situations in the past. Your answers can provide a glimpse into your personality, abilities and skills. The logic behind these questions is that they can predict how you would behave should a similar situation arise in your new workplace.

While they are related to situational interview questions, behavioral interview questions focus more on your past reaction to a work event, whereas situational questions ask about how you might behave in hypothetical situations.

Why would an employer ask behavioral interview questions?

In general, behavioral interview questions are used to gauge how successful you are at problem solving, which is a key skill in most workplaces.

In contrast to more general or situational questions, behavioral interview questions can be a more concrete way to determine someone’s fit for a position – how one behaved in the past is a good indicator of how they might behave in the future.

How should you answer behavioral interview questions?

Answers to behavioral interview questions should take the form of a brief story or anecdote that illustrates your skills and strengths at a previous job.

Don’t focus too much on the details or circumstances – it’s best to give only a brief background or setup, outline the specific actions you took and why, and explain the results in concrete terms. Conciseness and accuracy are important.

While behavioral interview questions often deal with failure, don’t focus too much on the negative. You want to quickly move on to how you solved the problem and the results you achieved.

Since you want your answer to feel natural and succinct, it’s always a good idea to prepare beforehand. Plus, many employers ask similar questions, so it can’t hurt to familiarize yourself with some of the more common ones.

Here are a few general tips before we get into the questions:

  • Prepare specific examples of your past behavior based on the job you’re applying for. Even if you haven’t worked in that specific position before, try and think about how your past experience could apply.
  • Remember, the employer is looking to find out if you’re a good fit for the position, so review and use the job description carefully to craft your answers.
  • Finally, relax and take your time! Don’t feel like you have to rush to spit out a rehearsed answer. Think about the question, and take a moment to adapt your response on the fly if needed.

A handy way to remember how to answer behavioral interview questions is to use the acronym STAR. It stands for situation, task, action and result.

Situation: share context and relevant details for the challenge you were facing.

Task: outline your role in overcoming the challenge.

Action: explain what actions you or your team took, while making sure to focus on…

Result: describe the concrete outcomes of your actions.

Your practical guide to answering the top behavioral interview questions

Below are some common behavioral interview questions you may be asked during a job interview. Along with each question, we’ll give a brief overview of how you should be answering it.

Remember, this is just a general guide. You need to be prepared with specific examples and anecdotes of your own. Make sure your examples are clear and concise.

We’ve grouped the questions into three main categories: questions that deal with adapting to stressful situations and overcoming challenges, those dealing with goal setting and performance, and finally questions relating to your behavior in teams.

Adaptation questions

These questions might feel particularly negative, since they are often about problems, challenges and even failures. They are all about assessing how you dealt with these types of situations in the workplace. Remember to focus on the positive.

1. How do you work under pressure?

How to answer:

Give a concrete example of how you successfully managed a high-pressure situation. You could also include what you would have done differently given the chance.

2. Describe how you handled a challenging situation

How to answer:

This is your chance to provide a specific example of your problem-solving skills. Don’t be shy to share an experience where you failed to overcome a challenge as long as you focus on what you learned through the experience.

3. Share a situation in which you made a mistake.

How to answer:

Everyone makes mistakes, and employers understand this. What’s important to convey in your answer is how you handled it. Describe how you took full responsibility for the mistake, worked to correct it and took steps to ensure it didn’t happen again.

Goal management questions

Be prepared to talk about that time you had to juggle multiple responsibilities, got everything organized, and completed everything on time.

4. Give an example of how you set a goal.

How to answer:

This one is straightforward. Give them a specific example of how you set goals. Emphasize how realistic and thoughtful you were. Explain how you had to organize your time, identify key stakeholders, and manage expectations.

5. Give an example of how you achieved a goal.

How to answer:

Outline the specific steps you took to achieve your goal once it was set. Describe challenges and how you overcame them. In this case, the interviewer is more interested in your journey and methodology than the end result.

6. Talk about a goal you failed to achieve.

How to answer:

This question is all about seeing how you handle failure. It’s also about getting a feel for how long it takes for you to give up or seek an alternative path. Just like the question about mistakes, explain how you took responsibility and learned from the experience. Include what you would do differently next time and what you learned about yourself through the experience.

Teamwork questions

These questions seek to understand how you work with others and deal with conflict, constraints, and personality clashes. Share stories about how you worked well with others under challenging circumstances.

7. Give an example of how you worked on a team.

How to answer

Keep it specific: outline what your role was in the team, who you were working with, and what you achieved

8. Talk about what you did when you disagreed with a co-worker.

How to answer:

This is a question about how you handle conflict. Focus on the positive. Outline how you solved the problem: did you reach a compromise? Did you seek help from others? What was the end result?

9. Give an example of how you were able to motivate team members or co-workers.

Here is where you talk about your motivational skills, your leadership style, and specific strategies you’ve used to motivate your team. Remember, the interviewer is looking for a concrete example of your ability to motivate others.

10. Give an example of a decision you made that wasn’t popular. How did you handle implementing it?

How to answer:

Inevitably, some employees will react negatively when new policies are put into place. This question is about showing how you went about making a difficult decision as a manager or team leader. Describe a specific example of how you made an unpopular change in your workplace and how you dealt with any resistance or negative feedback.

There are many more behavioral interview questions out there, but they all fall into a few main categories and many of them are quite similar. Whether it’s about your ability to work in teams, handle challenges or achieve your goals, take your time in answering the question, be concise and stay positive!

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